If you’ve watched Kenya Barris’ work—his sitcoms specifically, you know that a lot of the work is autobiographical. “black-ish” was about his family and their challenges traversing various tax brackets. And “Black AF” is a more raw version of this story. Netflix allows for more freedom than ABC. And this time, Barris is portraying himself in his own story.
During his sit down with T.I. for his podcast expediTIously, he spoke about telling his story with authenticity even when it’s personally difficult, like his divorce from his wife Dr. Raina “Rainbow”r Edwards-Barris. See what he said about this period of his life below.
Kenya Barris: I’m going through a divorce right now. Who knows what’s going to happen with that but…
T.I.: You mean in real life you are?
T.I.: Well damn.
Kenya: It is part of life. When I was growing up, we didn’t have—I never saw Cliff and Clair argue. If you look at sitcoms and our stories, we’re supposed to be okay. But 52% of marriages don’t work. And the notion of understanding—We didn’t know about therapy or really understand it. We didn’t know about really having the church or other married friends that would have given us the skeleton to make it in another sort of way. So I feel like talking about that to a generation of people who might be going through what I’m going through, it makes them say, ‘Hey, there’s other people out there like me. Maybe we can make it. Maybe we can’t.’ I just want to be as real with my sh*t as possible. It is the toughest thing I’ve ever been through in my life.
T.I.: Especially when you have to go through it in the public.
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Kenya: Somehow, some f*cked up way, it got announced on my birthday I didn’t file on my birthday but it got announced on my birthday. I don’t know that people care about me getting divorced. I’m not anybody, especially at that point. And all of a sudden it’s in the papers as I’m getting off the plane coming from Atlanta. I have my wife calling me. I have my daughter who’s a sophomore at USC calling me. I have my daughter, who’s a senior in high school, calling me because her friends are talking about it. I’m just not used to…it’s a different world than I ever expected and I’m trying to experience it with the audience in real-time. This is all happening to me as it’s happening on air.
He also discussed the opinions the public had on his Netflix show, “#BlackAF”.
Kenya: People have called me and told me ‘this is my favorite show’, people have called me and said ‘I hate this.’
T.I.: [Re: Rashida Jones and colorism outrage on social media] What do you think hurt people’s feelings about that?
Kenya: I won’t speak on Rashida but I will say this about her: she’s the only person I ever wanted to do that role. She did it in a way that is perfect. She held me up and carried me through that. I feel like she’s done a pitch-perfect job. This was based on my family. She’s playing a version of my wife who is biracial. My kids look like those kids, who are amazing. If you dug just a little bit under the surface you will find this is biographical.
Barris and his wife, Dr. Raina Barris-Edwards were married in 1999. The couple previously filed for divorce in 2014 but reconciled and withdrew the papers in 2015. They share six children together. Barris has claimed that he was willing to provide financial support for his wife.
You can watch the full interview in the video below.
This article was originally posted on MadameNoire.com