“I’ll be with my kids on the weekends and my two middle daughters,” he says. “I heard rumbling upstairs and I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ I let it go on for a while. And finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I go upstairs and they had my sons in their karate gees with full head gear on,” he says, giggling. “And they were having a fight club upstairs, fighting each other for bets. And I felt I had to do this. So in some effort, I do find a lot from my family.”
Barris is the foundation of who and what you see when tuning into Black-ish. Raised in Compton, he found creative and financial success when partnering with childhood friend Tyra Banks to create America’s Next Top Model. Its international success led to him becoming a writer for numerous projects, including The Game and Are We There Yet? He married a doctor named Rainbow (same as Tracee Ellis Ross’s character on Black-ish). And like his characters Rainbow and Andre Johnson (Anthony Anderson), Barris raises children while struggling to maintain his blackness in a world of upper class, White neighborhood living.
“Because they’re growing up in a different environment than I did, it’s easy for them to fall out of the idea that ‘I’m Black in America,’ ” says Barris, whose new season of Black-ish includes storylines on the N-word and guns. “But every now and then, it rears its head up to them. And they’re like, ‘What? Why did this happen?’ And I’m like, ‘You know why that happened?’ And I hate to be that guy. But I just try to make sure they’re aware and careful, especially my sons.”
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