The 1990s was a fantastic era. Aside from fashion and chart-topping R&B groups, the decade also gave the world some of television’s best Black sitcoms. Classics like “Living Single,” “A Different World,” “Martin,” and the “Fresh Prince of Belaire” exemplified black representation at its peak.
The end of these shows left a small void in the sitcom space for Black entertainment. While some shows held their ground, it wasn’t the television takeover of the 1990s. Then there’s “Black-ish,” a sitcom about Andre Johnson and his family’s suburban life. It describes the joys and difficulties of navigating life as a Black person, particularly in a specific tax bracket. Kenya Barris is the mind behind this concept.
Kenya Barris was born in Inglewood, California, and pursued his passion for media arts by graduating from Clark Atlanta University in 1996 with a degree in mass media arts. After finishing his degree, the 48-year-old went on to carve out a niche in the industry by writing for and working on hit shows such as “Soul Food,” “Girlfriends,” and “Listen Up.”
However, the writer and producer did not always walk down “easy street” in his career. During an Essence interview, television icon Jackée Harry admitted that she was not nice to Barris when he worked on the set of “227” delivering scripts.
Sheryl Lee Ralph and Jackeé Harry on learning to keep their egos in check. “You know who used to bring me my scripts from 227? Kenya Barris. I wasn’t nice to him. See, look at me now.” pic.twitter.com/22Vc9wLpV5
— Brande Victorian (@Be_Vic) January 4, 2023
Barris has not only created an entire television universe with shows like “Mixed-ish” and “Grown-ish,” but he has also contributed to the big screen, with credits on “Girls Trip” and “Coming 2 America.” He was even able to return to Harry and tell him about their interactions in the 1980s.
Harry’s recollection of his interaction with Barris could be evidence of how hard work and perseverance pay off. Furthermore, Kenya Barris’ $75 million net worth, as reported by Celebrity Net Worth, could be a testament.
And, with no end in sight, let’s take a look inside the empire Barris is constructing.
Barris has written scripts for several of his shows. He has, however, given his full support to several projects in which he served as executive producer.
His credits as a producer include “Black AF,” a Netflix series loosely based on his real life, “Entergalactic,” and others.
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Barris announced the formation of a music label in collaboration with Interscope Records.
Kenya Barris, a husband and father of six, hopes to complete his artistic picture with this music venture, known as Khalabo Music.
“Kenya touches people in so many different ways, and he wants music to be part of that experience, so the conversation is not just about, ‘Let me find this one artist and make the best record,’” Interscope Geffen A&M Records Vice Chairman Steve Berman told The Hollywood Reporter. “He wants to find the artists and be able to plug music into his universe in many different ways. It’s the complete picture with him.”
Barris has signed multiple massive deals with media companies through his production company, Khalabo Ink Society, in order to expand his creative footprint.
According to Variety, Barris has signed a $100 million deal with Netflix to produce exclusive series for the streaming service.
However, The Hollywood Reporter reported in 2021 that the creative star was leaving his Netflix deal to take a stake in BET Studios, a platform designed to “offer Black creatives an equity stake and a place to produce for outlets within and outside the media conglomerate.”
“Kenya Barris — who left a nine-figure Netflix deal for a stake in the venture — Rashida Jones and ‘SWAT’ co-creator Aaron Rahsaan Thomas will be principal partners in BET Studios. “Aisha Summers Burke, a former Warner Bros. TV executive, will lead the studio as executive vp and general manager,” the outlet reported at the time.
Barris told The Hollywood Reporter in 2022 that he made the right decision.
“Everything worked out,” Barris told the outlet in an interview. “I’ve got two shows on Netflix right now. I have a movie on Netflix, a very, very expensive movie.”
According to the report, the “expensive movie” at Netflix that Barris is behind is called “You People,” starring Eddie Murphy, Nia Long, Lauren London, and Jonah Hill.