“Black Excellence. It Don’t Even Surprise Me.” Deon Cole Talks Blackish, Grown-ish And Game Shows
I am super late on the genius that is Kenya Barris and the comedic brilliance of the cast of “Black-ish” , but I felt obliged to get a background of Yara Shahidi’s character, self-absorbed and apple of her father’s eye, Zoey before tuning into the series premiere of the spin-off “Grown-ish” on Freeform. Surprisingly one of the characters who ended up making me laugh until my sides hurt was “Charles”, character Dre’s colleague and mortal enemy of one half of the Johnson twins played by the hilarious Deon Cole.
Cole can’t be caught on every single episode of the ABC series and it’s probably because he’s moonlighting as one of Zoey’s college professors on “Grown-ish” and juggling hosting “Face Value” a BET game show based on stereotypes, TBS’s “Angie Tribeca” and shooting an upcoming film with fellow comedian Katt Williams. In between his many gigs, the 46-year-old found a little bit of time to sit down with Global Grind to discuss his many different projects, what it like working with the kids of “Black-ish” and why he’s committed to being “blacker” than he’s ever been.
He says the kids of “Black-ish” are just as special in real life as they appear on screen, even Marsai Martin who plays his character’s “mortal enemy”:
“Basically with all the kids on the show, they’re just like on another planet. I’m not even lying.”
Furthermore, he said it makes perfect sense that Shahidi landed her own spin-off:
“So, it was just inevitable that she would have her own show, period. It made sense—timing is everything.”
“She’s a monster, she’s a monster. I’m not even lying—I can’t wait until everybody sees the rest of this show.”
“I’m going to tell you something, man. If you sit down with that young lady, in minutes you’re going to see why she has her own show. Yara is so bright, she is so beyond her time. I mean, unreal sometimes.”
Cole also shared that although he’s crazy busy with filming, he’d rather be busy than bored:
“I was filming all four at the same time—actually, I started filming ‘Angie Tribeca’ the week right after ‘Grown-ish’. Also, there was this movie I was doing with Katt Williams—so I was doing ‘Grown-ish’, ‘Black-ish’, this movie with Katt Williams, it was crazy.”
“I’m not complaining…because I remember when I didn’t have anything to do.”
Cole also talked about his gig hosting BET’s “Face Value”, an idea that comedian Wanda Sykes approached him with on the set of “Black-ish”. He shared the show explores stereotypes among all races and was originally a funny joke made by Sykes on set, but he suggested for it to be a full show. He credits Steve Harvey with paving the way for black comedians to make their mark on game shows:
“To be honest with you, man, black excellence. It don’t even surprise me. We just got to have the chance—Steve Harvey blew the door off that s**t, as far as just putting his flavor on it. There’s a difference between having a game show host and having a personality as a game show host—somebody that you know and respect that’s funny. Steve Harvey brought himself to the game show and how you would feel if you were in Harlem watching it, you know what I mean?”
He also shared how recent trip to Morehouse College has inspired him to be the “blackest” he’s ever been:
“I have been the blackest I have ever been.”
“I’ve been preaching it. I’ve been getting the word out. I’ve been telling people ‘Stop talking white at work. Talk how you talk and if they fire you, you got a lawsuit. Simple as that.’ Everybody else is out being themselves at work, so I don’t understand why black people have to change the way they talk in order to be accepted. So that’s what I’ve been telling people: ‘Be as black as you wanna be.’”
“Be who you are. I did good with it. I’ve been preaching it and I’m gonna keep on preaching it too, watch.”
You can read the hilarious interview in its entirety here.