Kenya Barris is showing no signs of slowing down.
Over the past several years, the 45-year-old multihyphenate has directed, written, produced, and even starred in several big and small-screen projects, the most popular of which is arguably the Ish TV franchise. Barris introduced that universe in 2014 with the critically acclaimed ABC sitcom Black-ish, and has since developed the Grown-ish and Mixed-ish spinoffs, with a possible third on the way.
During a recent interview with Deadline, Barris spoke about his plans to expand the franchise with another series. And although he kept details to a minimum, Barris told the outlet he had something “special” in the works.
“We’re brewing it, yeah. It’s something I’m really super excited about,” he said when asked about a fourth Ish sitcom. “Yeah, we’re brewing it, and hopefully it gets done, and adds to that world in a really special way.”
He was then asked if he would face any challenges creating another spinoff, as he prematurely ended his contract with ABC Studios for a massive Netflix deal. Barris doesn’t believe there will be any issues.
“Not if I stay, contractually if I stay within that world. No,” he said. “It’s actually sometimes a little bit nicer to go and do network television because it’s a little bit freeing in a different kind of way because you get to tell different kinds of stories.”
Barris also spoke about developing the Netflix sitcom #blackAF, in which he stars alongside Rashida Jones, Genneya Walton, and Iman Benson. He explained that the series was “scratching a different itch,” as Netflix afforded him more creative freedom.
“… I felt like I could be really honest, and really truthful, and really sincere, but at the same time do it in a way that felt edgy, felt different, felt like it was truer to who I really was …,” he said. “I felt like I wanted to be as honest as I could, and that’s one thing that Netflix really allowed me to do. But I also felt like I wanted to speak to people in a way that they hadn’t been spoken to before about things that I thought were really important. Some of those things I couldn’t have talked about at ABC. It was super tantalizing.”
Barris is now looking to create a Juneteenth musical with Pharrell Williams and is in the early stages of developing #blackAF season 2. He told Deadline he has been thinking about the show’s next chapter but is waiting to reunite with his team before he really dives in.
“I won’t really, really, really get into it until we’re in the room because I want it to be fresh,” he said, “but I definitely know I want to talk about real shit. We want it to be really special.”