Are You Tired Of Talking About Diversity In Hollywood? This Showrunner Is
During a Television Critics Association panel on Thursday (Aug. 4), Black-ish creator Kenya Barris made it known that he’s over the “D” word in Hollywood. Diversity, that is.
A journalist asked Barris about the percentage of African Americans that tune into the hit ABC comedy, interjecting that there was initially “uncertainty about how [the show] was going to be received by the African-American community” and Donald Trump “weighed and tweeted something about it being racist,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“I will be so happy when diversity is not a word. I have the best job in the world and I am constantly having to talk about diversity. I have the best actors. It’s ridiculous,” Barris responded. “We’re in a time when everything is about black and white, and this and that. We get opportunities and we are happy to be the people who can step up and say, ‘We can do this.’ But these are amazing actors. It doesn’t matter who is watching our show. The fact is that they’re watching it.”
As we all know, Black-ish has amassed a large following and success since its 2014 debut (recently racking up three Emmy nominations: one each for Anderson and Ellis and then one for the series itself) but for the showrunner, questions as much plague the show. Instead of focusing on the talent, the tunnel vision focus on diversity distracts from the mission of the show, and Barris is fed up. “I feel like every question at every panel … I’m so tired of talking about diversity. These are amazing, talented actors and amazing writers who give their all … and it’s clouding the conversation.”
Tracee Ellis Ross, who was seated next to her co-star Anthony Anderson, chimed in on the conversation. “Is that a question that you’ve asked other shows that are not predominantly of a certain color?” she asked the journalist to which he admitted, “Not necessarily.”
An visibly emotional Barris continued, “We’re so divisive as a community and we always have to box everything in, and I kind of feel like, isn’t it just a good family show? It’s specifically about a black family, but don’t you see yourself in it? Don’t you see your family reflected in it? Why is that important who watches the show? Why does it matter? Why do we have to keep having these conversations? Why can’t we just look at the show for what it is and celebrate these actors?”
What are your thoughts on this discussion and general conversation of diversity in Hollywood? While we as a people have fought raucously to be respected in the entertainment industry, is the push for diversity positive or negative in the overall scheme of things?