Inside The Writer’s Room | Family Reunion | Netflix

– [Woman] It’s interesting
when people ask how it is to be in a all black writer’s room and telling black stories and it’s like, well, we’re just telling stories– – Stories, right.
– But we’re black. (film projector running) – Ooh, look at you,
fitting into Jade’s jeans. – These aren’t Jades’s, these are mine. – Oh! – I think they look cute. – Sure, if you’re
dropping it like it’s hot at a Nicki Minaj concert. (audience laughs) – What you know about Nicki Minaj? – Child, I’m in the
shade room every morning with my coffee to get my tea! – I mean, growing up a kid,
like upper middle class, black kid from the
suburbs, this is very much a fish out of water story and I feel like my whole upbringing was
kinda fish out of water. Trying to find where I fit in whether it’s too black for the white kids, not black enough for the black kids and I feel like all the kids
on our show are coming to terms with what version of black they are, they’re coming of age and
it’s that much layered deeper because their black on top of it. So there are these expectations of who they’re supposed to be and it’s like well, no wait a minute, I don’t do that, but why can’t I do this? And I very much relate to that. So I think I bring that to the room and along with I’ll always wanna explore my kinda political
issues and social issues. – Yes you do.
– Yes, you do. – But no it is in one of
the rooms so I bring that that fist clenching pitch
whenever it’s necessary. But yeah, that is everything I’m kind of passionate about right now so it’s very much in my work. – The journey started way before it actually happened for me. I am from East Cleveland, Ohio, came here to be a writer
right after college and got a manager almost immediately, got dropped even faster. Because she was like I’m no longer repping baby writers. and worked in production for awhile ended up getting pregnant, leaving the business for awhile and just being extremely unhappy. I was in corporate America for awhile and then I started doing
writing on the side. You know, freelance for punching up scripts and having people tell me
you know what, you’re funny, and you should really really think about, you know, leaving your job. Be poor! And be a writer. Well try! So it’s funny because I got laid off and that was probably the
biggest blessing ever! And I said, you know
what, I’m gonna try it and started writing. And I wrote tons and tons of pilots, tried for managers and
then it took one person, a mentor at the time, she said, “You know what, your writing,
your stories are great, “you should tell your story. “I promise you if you tell your story, “you’re gonna kill it!” I told my stories and immediately
doors started opening. I did it and immediately got in, took several meetings and actually had the opportunity to say no to a project
even though I was broke, but it was a conversation
that I had with my manager and she said “You know what, “you’re breaking into this industry, “don’t go for something “that you know is not
going to do you any favors. “It’s not going to help you. “If you don’t feel like this
is your voice, don’t do it.” So I’m like, you know what, I can eat Ramen for
another month, okay, fine. Turned that down and soon as I did, you guys called. It’s crazy how things happen. – Less than a year after
being in LA to act, I ended up getting staffed
on Eve as a writer. So, for me the real journey
was trying to, trying to, trying to, trying to act and then it was obvious that writing was the thing I was supposed to be doing, which makes sense, because I always felt like, I had all these ideas and when you’re an actor nobody wants to hear your ideas, nobody wants to hear,
you know what I mean? So, it was a really natural fit to come in and been doing it ever since. – For a long time, I was the only black writer
in a white room, you know, and they wanted me to have the flavor this and that blah blah blah and especially if it was
something about sports. Sports, rapping, dancing. (clap, clap) I got it. You know I remember doing a certain show, not gonna to name drop, doing a certain show and I was the new guy and I was the black guy. So when the head guy got fired, ’cause he hired me, so he got fired and I got fired with him. Because they said, well all you bring is this
flavor, blah, blah, blah, not knowing that the poems and the songs and the great stories, the great heartfelt stories and everything that was me. But they saw me, didn’t think about it. Now them writers knew
and they didn’t speak up. They didn’t say well,
hey man that was Ant. They didn’t say that, because
they wanted their jobs. And they kept their jobs. But I kept getting in that. And I not only got it from white writers but also black writers. I remember a producer told
me, “Oh boy, you’re funny. “You’re so damn funny, you
can’t be good with story.” Well, why not? Because I’m funny? It’s like telling a fast quarterback, that you can’t be accurate and fast. You know, but it exists
and it was hard for me because I am taking jobs, I am taking some jobs just to feed kids. You know, and I’m not necessarily proud of those writing gigs and everything but, I was known as a certain type of writer and I was never that type of writer. Because I had to assimilate in
this culture to even survive. So, I can write anything. It didn’t work the other way. – [Hank] No. – They never had to get to know us or how we do things. So we only get their version of who we are ’cause they never lived it. (film projector running) – Seeing that this is my first show and I was blessed to come up
under both of you guys who are such amazing producers,
– You’re welcome. – I am just extremely proud to be born and raised on this show, an all black show and it just
really set the bar so high for what’s to come in the future, yeah. – I would say being a black writer in an all black writer’s room has been a confirmation of
what I already knew to be true about the value and the nuance and the complexity of black stories. And that’s really confirmed every day that we sit in that room and share our stories and
create stories with each other. – Yeah, I think it’s cool having a very diverse
room with black writers. – Right, and I think that’s the thing most people do not recognize, that within African Americans
there is tremendous diversity. – Yes. – Our room really illustrates that. – And it’s interesting
when people ask how it is to be in an all black writer’s room and telling black stories and it’s like, well we’re just telling stories. – Right. – But we’re black, so
the stories are just, they’re organically told, and they’re not forced
and it just feels so real. It’s like we’re telling our lives. – Well, it’s our version,
it’s our version of who we are versus someone else’s
version of who we are. – Right, and that’s the first time I’ve been in a situation where it’s our version of who we are and so we get to have the truth of that, the good, the bad, and the ugly. – The good, the bad, and–
– The final say. – Right, the final say, it’s important. – I’ve been very fortunate enough to have a family from down south. And some of them have
passed on and everything and I really feel blessed to be able to keep them alive on camera ’cause some of the things I
get credit for, it’s my family, they said it. I’m just using it. And it makes me laugh. I got a call from my sister today, she said that she was watching a show and she could just tell by
what the guy was saying, that had to be my brother. Then she watched the
credits and it was me. She was there. She had those experiences. And so many other of us have
had those same experiences. And to hear yourself on television, feels good and I just know
that I’m just lucky and blessed to be able to be a part of that. – Those are the best moments when my dad came to a live taping and he
heard a joke and he was like, “Was that you? “That sounded like you.” For them to experience
that to hear your voice and recognize it, it’s amazing. – Yeah, and also that the show is like three generations
of a black family. And you know some of that story, I had to move back home with my daughter and move back into my parent’s house and so their parent’s are very religious. And so to have three
generations in one house, that’s definitely something that I’m familiar with
very relatively recently. And just that my father’s voice is such a strong voice in my head and my grandmother’s voice and all of those voices, are so strong and yes, half of the stuff Madea says is stuff that my father
says or my mother says and so being able to draw from
just that rich family life, is really valuable, in a way that I’ve never
been able to do before. – You know, as a new writer,
that was one of the things I was so big on googling and just reading up on so many great writers. I think about Yvette Lee Bowser. I think about Mara Brock Ikil. I think about Sarah Feeney. I think about Shonda Rimes,
who creates everything. I think about Nkechie Carroll. All of these women and the work that they created. Meg Deloatch with Eve and
Living Single and All American, now with Nkechie and Issa Ray. It’s just so many, it’s amazing. If this is, by God, my journey, I want to be as great as them. – Writing has been a really
wonderful opportunity to get in rooms and, because
that is where it starts, in the room. You can’t change it once
you’re in the audition, because they have already
decided what the part is, and what kind of girl they want to cast. So, being in the room and making a change, but it’s really, really hard when you’re the only one and when you’re the only one and when it’s a lot of guys
who have a frat boy culture, who constantly just want to tear you down and tear your ideas down and not believe and support you. So, that is why this show has been great. Meg was my first boss and coming back to work
for her 15 years later, she’s been the only boss I’ve
had that has empowered me and encouraged me and allowed me to grow and actually use my
voice and value my voice. So I find that having a black female boss has been the most useful thing for me in being able to develop
my artistry and my craft. Those other rooms, they’re tough and they’re no fun to be in and they’re stressful. – Well, the frat boy
thing, frat boy mentality, I definitely was a part of that being the only black
writer on a few shows. They wanted me to be funny, be the funny guy or the guy with flavor. So what would this black guy say? (crosstalk) – Jive Turkey, sucker, fool. – I would challenge them though. Well, we wouldn’t do that. And I said it so much,
it got on their nerves. Well we would not do that. So, there was a story we were doing about these two brothers who were dating the same
girl and blah, blah. I said, we don’t necessarily do that. That’s a homicide. But you know they couldn’t understand that I had story sense. You know, and they don’t want
to listen to my story sense. They wanted me to just
be and it was frustrating because you have points and
you question yourself somewhat. Am I not right? You know, but then I’m
seeing this all the time. I was doing a show about
four 30 year old black men, and the majority of the room
was 50 year old white men. And they were telling the story of me, who was at that time a
30 year old black man. And they thought they told
that story better than me. More authentic than me. When I’m in a room with a Jewish writer and we’re talking about
a Jewish character, and he says this character
would say, blah, blah, blah, I defer. Okay, it’s your culture,
you would know, fine. When I would say it, it
would always be challenged. Well, no one really knows about that Ant, so maybe we can change it up and make it, make it what? Because I’m sure no one in
the writer’s room of Frasier, has ever said maybe you
shouldn’t drink this wine because it’s so expensive, that the majority of the culture didn’t know anything about it. He would drink what’s
authentic to his character. And they would roll with it. We would have to watch it, why ya’ll want you hours down? This and that blah, blah blah. And I am glad I had to do that ’cause I got in trouble sometimes. I’ve been fired a couple
of times, just saying, but I’ve been lucky enough to get on shows where they do listen. It’s not just the black people listening, it’s the whole situation is listening. And one of things that’s
good about this place, is that even when they don’t
get it, the response is, “I don’t get it, but okay.” That’s all you want sometimes. It is not always for you. – I sometimes wonder if because
I am in such a great room and you guys have done such a great job, giving us the freedom you have. – Oh man, that is my purpose.
– And you have definitely. No, I did not mean it like you have, but you guys have done such
a great job allowing us to, you know like you said the other day, “I think it is time for you guys “to learn how to run a room,” giving time for just to develop us and it’s so, I think,
what would be frightening. Well no I shouldn’t use that word but for lack of better word the fear now is what happens when
you go into another room and this isn’t what it’s like? I have such high expectations of what a room should be like because I’m so comfortable in our room. – But that’s good, so that you carry that with you and you have those high expectations and don’t lower your standards. And insist on having yourself
be heard wherever you are. – No matter what.
– Yeah. – When the show came about and Meg called me up, we were
meeting at a coffee shop. Meeting right at a coffee shop. And she was very clear, she wanted an all black room and I’m like okay, I was excited about it. – Yeah. – And everybody in the
room was hand picked based on what they were going to bring. And it feels good to sit
back and say, you know what, we were right. – I had a friend, I got into an argument with a friend. He had just gotten a job on a network show and I hit him up like, yo, congrats. Man this is like his
first job, this is huge. He was like no man, I told him
he was perfect for that show. That is the words they used. They, oh you are perfect for that show ’cause it had a character
that had to rap a little bit and he had a rapping background. And I remember his reaction, he’s like, “You know, I
took offense to that.” I’m like, “Why?” He said, “Well because
it is like I am only here “because I have this rapping background. “I’m a person of color. “Why can’t I go be on this show “with predominantly white people?” I heard him but at the
same time I did not. I was like, bruh like you are, the main focus is kind of having whatever niche
you can to get into a room, especially just starting out, use that and then get in there and flex and show them you can do x, y, and z. And the best work isn’t
the white show to me and I don’t know if that is
how he meant it, but to me, I took it as, oh, you’re aspiring to this ’cause you view this as better because it’s predominantly white. – Right, without knowing it. – Yeah, like you have
to step back and look, like what is your idea
of like the best show? Is it an all white show? Is that credibility to you? I mean what’s, and I think we have to kind of step back and look what our values are because getting on a
predominantly black show, I don’t care where it is,
that’s a hard thing to do. It’s hard to get these jobs. So whichever way you can get in, get in. And then make noise. If you want to go on this show eventually, then flex and show your
value and then get there but I don’t think people
should be turning their nose up because they have a specific
voice they can offer. – What do you think? This says, fun and friendly, Jade but then this says sophisticate
and approachable, Jade. – Mmm, which says, dressed and in the car, Jade? (laughter) – You know Jade, you will
look great in anything. I remember when I was tiny
like you, only I was known as, Big Booty Judy. (laughter) – Why Judy? – Because Big Booty Amelia doesn’t rhyme. (laughter) – And that was the problem for me is that the idea of a black
show, meant hood, drugs, like there are these three little things, hood, drugs, hoes, rapping like gangs! You know what I mean? – Just like Monday. (laughter) Obviously there is so much more to our experience as black people. But I feel like at least
there’s the possibility now for the kinds of black stories that I want to tell to be told whereas before it was very
limited, limited, limited field. So, I think that’s
great about this moment. And so I’m hopeful that regardless of what
has happened in the past, there are more opportunities for us to create full worlds of people that reflect our
sensibility and our taste, regardless of what race they are. Obviously it’s going to
have black characters in it but obviously I can tell
more than just black stories. So, I think that’s rather than focusing on you
know, the problems of the past, I feel like this is a really rich moment and I really think Netflix
is at the lead of that with a strong black lead campaign. That they are making a commitment to tell different kinds of black stories, not just the hood story, which is valid as well, but I’m not the person
to tell the hood story. – Right.
– Right. – And I know it’s cliche to
say that it takes a village, but in our industry it does. It is important for our village
to continuously brinking and reaching back and pulling others up. I was told that you know what,
I gave you this job by you. You told me, you took me to
lunch when I first got the job and you said, “You know
what, I gave you this job “so that you could pull back someone else, “and allow it to be a just a cycle “of just us pulling each other up, “because our stories are important.” – There are very few of
us doing this, you know, it is best that we know each other because they hire, when I say they, I mean the non-black
people hire their friends. I don’ blame ’em. The problem is, they’re
hiring their friends but sometimes we’re
hiring their friends too which leaves a bunch of us out. – Yeah. – You know, so by creating
a strong black network of some writers, you
know what’s happening. So it’s not as hard for the
next generation coming up to get in and tell those stories and to keep those stories going.

42 thoughts on “Inside The Writer’s Room | Family Reunion | Netflix

  1. Who else clicked fast asf for Netflix 😬👌💨?

    👇🏼But Im subbìñģ to everyone who liķės and sùbśçribes to me!💯❤️

  2. Who else clicked fast asf for Netflix 😁👌💨?

    👇🏼But Im subbìñģ to everyone who liķės and sùbśçribes to me!💯❤️

  3. If you guys put the whole naruto show on Netflix I will get my friends to watch it and everyone else would too pleaseee

  4. I really really wanted to like this show but it's cheesy and I hate the cheap sitcom look and laugh tracks 😩😩

  5. ($500) Giveaway at 1,000 subscribers and more to come! Don’t miss out it’s going down!! All you have to do is subscribe!✌🏼❤️

  6. The show was okay but I’m so tired of the narrative of mixed kids being bullied by dark skin females
    Y’all never show the hatred mixed kids receive from white people for not being white enough but there is ALWAYS a group of dark skin females bullying the light skin, long hair mixed girl
    IT IS PLAYED TF OUT & it’s the very reason I retracted my support

  7. Couldn’t get past the first episode. It just wasn’t funny. So tired of the canned laughter like it’s telling us when to laugh

  8. This show looks like an unoriginal sitcom. They always use her to play the black auntie or grandma and I couldn’t even force myself to even laugh this show is horrible. The actors don’t even look like a real family.

  9. Sad. All too often dome people have the inability see see the common ground of human beings. Very bad for the country.

  10. Please don't take pretty little liars off of netflix i just started watching don't do this to me😭😭🙏🏻

  11. Hi writers, I like the whole family members with their own characteristics, but can we see Grandpa more? He disappeared and then came back almost at the end of the season. Would love to see more of him with the whole family.

  12. I would like a Netflix TV show about commuity, that watches various Netflix shows and interacts according to how those show they watch. In the series, people can react to ANY Netflix series, from Stranger Things, Timeless, What If, The Umbrella Academy, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, Orange Is the New Black, Lost in Space, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, etc… Netflix has the rights to those shows. Parents of one family might forbid their children from watching a particular show. Or someone working in a coffee shop could have a TV on as background.

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