Black-Ish’s Kenya Barris Highlights Deon Cole’s Ability, And Talks Larry Wilmore

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As season 2 of Black-ish rolls out, producer Kenya Barris caught up with The New York Times to speak on different elements on the show. In his interview, Kenya went on to explain how he adjusted when Larry Wilmore shifted to Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show. He then shared his feelings on Deon Cole’s involvement on the show which he calls Deon a left-handed actor.

NYT: How much input does Larry Wilmore have now that he has his own show? He started as the show runner of “black-ish,” but had to leave before it even launched.

KB: Larry will always be felt, because Larry is my brother and we’re still very close friends. He doesn’t weigh in on a daily basis, because he has a daily show that takes up a lot of his time. But I call him constantly and ask for advice and mentorship, which he never fails to give me.

NYT: What was it like having to transition into being a show runner when he left?

KB: Terrifying. I had had shows before, but never at this level. We had developed this partnership between us that was such a great Batman and Robin-type thing. But if Larry had still been here, even though I probably would have had the same amount of input, my voice would not have been heard as loud. And I wouldn’t have been able to develop as a writer in the way that I have, because Larry is such a big presence. It would have been The Larry Wilmore Show. And I think Larry knew that, too.


NYT: Charlie strikes me as the secret M.V.P. of the show. How do you keep him as funny as he is without making him completely ridiculous?

KB: A lot of that is just Deon Cole’s natural ability. We knew it was going to be Deon when we were writing the character. I’m a huge fan of writing for people rather than writing and then trying to wedge people in. I’d love to know who the people are before I can write for them. For me, it’s a much more organic way to create characters.

But Deon to me always was — I call them left-handed actors. Danny McBride is one. Jack McBrayer from “30 Rock” is one. Actors who take a line and say it back in a way that you never thought it should be said, and it’s better than you thought it would be, but it’s completely different.

You can read the full interview, here.

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