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Kenya Barris

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Kenya Barris
Barris in 2016
Born (1973-08-09) August 9, 1973 (age 50)
Other namesKenya 'Yee' Harris
Alma materClark Atlanta University
  • Film and television writer
  • producer
  • director
  • actor
Years active1997–present
Rainbow Edwards Barris
(m. 1999; sep. 2022)

Kenya Barris (born August 9, 1973) is an American film and television writer, producer, director, and actor. He is best known as the creator of the ABC sitcom black-ish (2014–2022).

Early life and education[edit]

Barris, the second-youngest among four siblings, was born to Tina, who worked as a real estate agent, and her former husband Patrick, who was a factory worker at General Motors. Barris grew up in Inglewood and Pacoima, California.[1] He was named after the country of Kenya, which his father had visited.[2] His parents divorced when he was a child.[3]

He is an alumnus of Clark Atlanta University where he started out studying medicine.[4][5][6]


Barris has created numerous television shows, including the critically acclaimed Black-ish. The award-winning series also has two spin-offs, Grown-ish and Mixed-ish,[7] and a third potential spin-off Old-ish.[8] He was a writer for The Game, Girlfriends, and Soul Food.[7][5][9] Barris co-created and produced America's Next Top Model with Tyra Banks.[10] He penned the film Girls Trip. He co-produced the 2019 film Little[11] and co-wrote the screenplay for the 2019 theatrical release Shaft.

In 2020, Barris made his acting debut in #BlackAF, a series he developed for Netflix, co-starring Rashida Jones and Iman Benson.[12][13][14] In October 2020, Barris announced that he would write, produce, and direct a biopic on comedian Richard Pryor for MGM.[15]

Also in 2020, it was reported his production company, Khalabo Ink Society, was considering a deal with ViacomCBS.[16] His company entered a multi-project development deal with Audible in 2021.[17]

In 2021, it was reported that Barris was developing a potential television series, Brown-ish, with Eva Longoria.[18]

In August 2022, it was announced that Barris would write and direct a modern remake of The Wizard of Oz.[19] In January 2024, he confirmed that he finished penning the script for the film and announced that he is also in development on a modern remake of It's a Wonderful Life, with the intention to cast a person of color in the lead role of George Bailey.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Barris married anesthesiologist Dr. Rania "Rainbow" Edwards Barris in 2000. They have six children.[21] His wife filed for divorce in 2014, and Barris filed for divorce in 2019: the couple reconciled and withdrew their divorce petitions both times. Barris filed for divorce a second time in 2022.[22][23][24][25]



Title Year Credited as Studio Notes
Writer Director Producer Other
Barbershop: The Next Cut 2016 Yes No Yes No Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Warner Bros. Pictures Co-producer
Co-written with Tracy Oliver
Girls Trip 2017 Yes No No No Universal Pictures Co-written with Tracy Oliver and Erica Rivinoja
Little 2019 No No Yes No
Shaft Yes No Executive No Warner Bros. Pictures / Netflix Co-written with Alex Barnow
The Witches 2020 Yes No No No Warner Bros. Pictures Co-written with Robert Zemeckis and Guillermo del Toro
Soul No No No Yes Pixar Animation Studios Special thanks[26]
Coming 2 America 2021 Yes No Executive No Amazon Studios / Paramount Pictures Co-written with Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield
Cheaper by the Dozen 2022 Yes No Yes No Disney+ / Walt Disney Pictures / 20th Century Studios Co-written with Jenifer Rice-Genzuk Henry and Craig Titley
You People 2023 Yes Yes Yes No Netflix Directing debut
Co-written with Jonah Hill
White Men Can't Jump 2023 Yes No No No Hulu / 20th Century Studios Co-written with Doug Hall
The Underdoggs 2024 No No Yes No Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
The Wizard of Oz TBA Yes Yes No No Warner Bros. Pictures / New Line Cinema Co-production with The Hideaway Entertainment and Temple Hill Entertainment
It's a Wonderful Life TBA TBA TBA TBA TBA Paramount Pictures TBA

Television series[edit]

Title Year Credited as Network Notes
Actor Creator Director Writer Executive
Girlfriends 2000–2008 No No No Yes No UPN/The CW
America's Next Top Model 2003–2018 No Yes No No No UPN/The CW/VH1
Soul Food 2002–2004 No No No Yes No Showtime
Like Family 2004 No No No Yes No The WB
Listen Up 2004–2005 No No No Yes No CBS
The Game 2006–2014 No No No Yes No The CW/BET
Are We There Yet? 2011–2012 No No No Yes No TBS
I Hate My Teenage Daughter 2012–2013 No No No Yes No Fox
Black-ish 2014–2022 No Yes Yes Yes Yes ABC
Grown-ish 2018–2024 No Yes No Yes Yes Freeform
Mixed-ish 2019–2021 No Yes No Yes Yes ABC
Astronomy Club: The Sketch Show 2019 No No No No Yes Netflix
BlackAF 2020 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Character: Kenya Barris
We the People 2021 No No No No Yes
Entergalactic 2022 No Yes No No Yes Television special
The Vince Staples Show[27] 2023 No No No No Yes Pre-production
Diarra from Detroit 2024 No No No No Yes BET+


In 2019, Black-ish won several NAACP Image Awards. It was named best comedy series and Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson took acting honors. Black-ish was the winner of the Entertainment and Children's Peabody Award in 2016.[28] Barris and Black-ish also won the 2017 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series.[29] Barris was nominated for the same award in 2018. He was also nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2021, and a PGA Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Comedy for Black-ish in 2014.[30] In 2016, Barris won the Rod Serling Award for Advancing Social Justice Through Popular Media.[31]

In 2018, he donated $1 million to Clark Atlanta University, and was granted an honorary doctorate in humane letters.[32]


  1. ^ "blackish Creator Kenya Barris' Life Story: Poverty to Hollywood Success". Peoplemag. Retrieved 2023-11-05.
  2. ^ Ito, Robert (September 6, 2015). "Mostly Joking: "Black-ish" creator Kenya Barris's balancing act". The California Sunday Magazine.
  3. ^ Nussbaum, Emily (April 18, 2016). "In Living Color". The New Yorker.
  4. ^ "You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes : Kenya Barris Returns".
  5. ^ a b "Kenya Barris On 'Black-ish' And What Kids Lose When They Grow Up With More". NPR.org.
  6. ^ "The True Story Behind Golden Globe Nominee black-ish: Creator's Path from Poverty to Hollywood". Peoplemag. Retrieved 2023-11-05.
  7. ^ a b Nussbaum, Emily (April 25, 2016). "In Living Color" – via The New Yorker.
  8. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (2021-05-18). "ABC Boss On Status Of 'Old-ish' & 'Brown-ish', Expanding 'Black-ish' & 'Modern Family' Universes And Passing On Alec Baldwin/Kelsey Grammer Comedy". deadline.com. Retrieved 2021-06-09.
  9. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (August 21, 2015). "'black-ish' Creator Kenya Barris Inks Overall Deal With ABC Studios".
  10. ^ Nussbaum, Emily (April 25, 2016). "In Living Color". The New Yorker.
  11. ^ Harriot, Michael (January 9, 2019). "#BlackGirlMagic: Black-ish Star Marsai Martin Set to Become Youngest Executive Producer in Hollywood History". The Grapevine. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  12. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (2019-05-10). "Kenya Barris & Rashida Jones To Star In Barris' First Netflix Series 'Black Excellence'". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-09-03.
  13. ^ Rico, Klaritza (2020-03-19). "TV News Roundup: Showtime Releases 'Billions' Season 5 Trailer". Variety. Retrieved 2020-03-21.
  14. ^ "#BlackAF". IMDB.
  15. ^ Kay, Jeremy (2020-10-26). "MGM, 'Black-ish' creator Kenya Barris line up Richard Pryor biopic". Screen. Retrieved 2020-10-26.
  16. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (2020-10-31). "Kenya Barris In Talks With ViacomCBS To Partner In New Studio, Eyes Exit From Netflix Deal". Deadline. Retrieved 2020-11-05.
  17. ^ "Kenya Barris' Khalabo Ink Society Strikes Exclusive Deal with Audible | About Audible". www.audible.com. Retrieved 2023-02-21.
  18. ^ "Kenya Barris Is Developing a 'Brown-ish' Series With Eva Longoria | Entertainment Tonight". www.etonline.com. Retrieved 2023-02-21.
  19. ^ "Kenya Barris to Write & Direct Reimagining of 'Wizard of Oz' for Warner Bros; Khalabo Ink Society Producing". 15 August 2022.
  20. ^ Sharf, Zack (2024-01-20). "Kenya Barris' Richard Pryor Biopic Is a 10-Episode Series; New 'Wizard of Oz' Is Set in Inglewood and 'It's a Wonderful Life' Remake Has POC Lead: 'I'm Still a Believer in IP'". Variety. Retrieved 2024-02-22.
  21. ^ Italie, Leanne (May 1, 2018). "Pearls of parenting wisdom from the real Bow Johnson". Associated Press.
  22. ^ Canfield, David (May 17, 2018). "How black-ish reflects the life of its creator — and his wife, Rainbow Edwards-Barris". Entertainment Weekly.
  23. ^ "'Black-ish' Creator Kenya Barris to Divorce Wife of 20 Years". The Hollywood Reporter. August 12, 2019.
  24. ^ Naumann, Ryan (May 21, 2020). "'Black-Ish' Creator Kenya Barris Calls Off Divorce From Wife Rainbow". The Blast.
  25. ^ Saad, Nardine (2022-06-08). "'Black-ish' creator Kenya Barris files for divorce from wife Rania for a third time". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2022-09-23.
  26. ^ 'Soul' Filmmakers on Alternate Endings and the Meryl Streep Movie That Influenced the Story
  27. ^ Deville, Chris (6 September 2022). "Vince Staples Will Star In A Netflix Sitcom Loosely Based On His Life". Stereogum. Archived from the original on 6 September 2022. Retrieved 6 September 2022.
  28. ^ "75th Annual Entertainment & Children's Programming Winners". Peabody Awards. 4 May 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  29. ^ "48th NAACP Image Awards". 48th NAACP Image Awards. NAACP Image Awards. Archived from the original on 19 March 2017. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  30. ^ "Kenya Barris Awards". IMDB. IMDb.com, Inc. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  31. ^ Lewis, Dave (11 November 2016). "Creator of 'black-ish' Kenya Barris to receive the 2016 Rod Serling Award". ENTERTAINMENT/TELEVISION. L.A. Times.
  32. ^ Suggs, Ernie. "Blackish creator to give million-ish to Clark Atlanta University in Grown-ish gift". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. AJC.

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