There’s a major shift taking place with the balance of black creatives at ABC Studios and Netflix.
After months of speculation, last week “Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris announced that he will exit from his overall production deal at ABC Studios. According to reports, the decision comes three years before his contract was set to expire on his lucrative four-year deal. In an Instagram post, the prolific writer-producer expressed his gratitude to the people who contributed to his success with the network.
“Words can’t express all the emotions that I am feeling now,” he wrote to his followers. “As I look to the past I thank everyone who was a part of what has become the ride of a lifetime and with the future in front of me, I stand nervous but ready for whatever God has in store. I love EVERYONE for EVERYTHING.” The “Girls Trip” co-writer went on to add in an official statement to The Hollywood Reporter that his departure is “is bittersweet, but between my series on the air and projects currently in development, I know I’ll continue to work with ABC Studios for a long time.”
While the creator has remained mum about the reason for his abrupt departure, The Hollywood Reporter previously reported Barris and ABC had a series of creative differences — which included the network’s decision to pull a politically-themed episode of “Black-ish” in March.
Barris’ exit marks another major blow for the Disney-owned company. Last year, Shonda Rhimes announced she and her production company would leave her 15-year post with ABC Studios to sign a multi-year deal with Netflix.
According to reports, Barris may also join Rhimes on the streaming platform. If (and when) Barris signs his major production deal with Netflix, he will add his name alongside the company’s “Strong Black” creators including Justin Simien, Lena Waithe, Spike Lee, Ava DuVernay, and of course, Shonda Rhimes.
Aside from his rumored Netflix deal, Barris has been tapped to write the script for Netflix’s reboot of “Shaft,” as well as the sequel to Eddie Murphy’s 1988 classic film “Coming to America.”