Diversity in the entertainment industry is going to be a hot-button topic for a while, but with the breakout success of ABC’s comedy Black-ish, which helped to open doors for others like Master of None, Insecure and Atlanta, progress is underway. Black-ish is among those that has broken barriers, and from recent police-brutality incidents to the use of the N-word, the show is not afraid to feature issues that fall into the zeitgeist and prompt viewers to take a cognizant look at society.
Case in point, the premise of tonight’s episode centers on the concept of nepotism, particularly with how it relates to African-Americans and getting the opportunity at prominent positions. In it, the eldest daughter Zoey (played by Yara Shahidi) lands an internship at the prestigious Teen Vogue magazine through her father Dre’s (Anthony Anderson) work connections. This brought up an interesting conversation during a panel discussion, hosted by Teen Vogue editor Elaine Welteroth (who also makes a cameo in the episode), on the perspective of nepotism and how it perhaps can be the answer to universal inclusivity.
Speaking to a crowd of youngsters following an advance screening of the episode, titled “Nothing but Nepotism,” creator and EP Kenya Barris commented on how nepotism has shown to lead to progress within minority representation. “We are starting to see a generation benefit [from nepotism],” he said, insisting that didn’t necessarily have to be someone in your family. “We’re all looking out for each other, and there are more of us doing more things — forming a salon, a collective group of people who are trying to bring about excellence. “
Barris urged minorities in positions of power to continue this trend and not “be afraid to be open” to usher in up-and-comers. “I’m not embarrassed, I’m hooking my people up,” he declared. But don’t assume that means anyone with a half-baked spec script. “All I need are people who are ready to be walked in.”
Just yesterday, ABC announced an official pickup for Barris’ new comedy Libby & Malcolm, which centers on an interracial couple and their family dynamics. “I got the call from Channing [Dungey], a black woman that runs the network and Jamila Hunter, a black woman that runs comedy and it was like, ‘Whoa, this is interesting. I have a black show, and the black boss and the other black boss called me.’”
On the current wave of programming, he said, “There is this amazing collective group of people who are going to change the way we see the world,” citing such show creators as Donald Glover and Issa Rae. They’re not going to change to ‘black world,’ they are going to change it to the world.” He continued, “There’s something [different] happening right now, and I am so blessed to be a part of it.”
Black-ish airs at 9:30 PM Wednesdays on ABC.