Many of our legends are returning to TV via streaming services allowing them to stretch in unique ways and introduce themselves to new audiences. For Black comedians, platforms like Netflix have been a way to finally get the budget and the space to expand their reach to a larger demographic.
So, when you hear that Jamie Foxx has a new project with the streaming giant, what do you expect? After the monumental and culture-shifting success of his first hit, The Jamie Foxx Show, one may guess he'd be going in a completely different direction.
In some ways, you'd be right. His new offering, Dad Stop Embarrassing Me, sees Jamie at his purest comedian turned sitcom dad level. He is not Cliff Huxtable, Archie Bunker, or Andre Johnson. What Jamie delivers is something only he is capable of—being, at once, absolutely hilarious and fully emotionally authentic. Ever adept at knowing how to build a cast of incredible support for his stories; he's joined by David Alan Grier, relative newcomer Kyla Drew, Porscha Coleman, and Jonathan Kite for a family show unlike any we've seen in recent years.
The show, executive produced by Foxx's daughter, Corinne, premieres on Netflix on April 14th. We caught up with the cast to talk about what audiences can expect from the series and how it feels to be telling this story in today's world.
Iman Milner: Kyla, you are truly in the ring with some comedy-heavy hitters. What was this experience like for you?
Kyla Drew: It got me, at first. My nerves caught up to me, but once I put it through my head that I'm meant to be here, it was fun. It was a learning experience.
IM: Your character, Sasha, is a quintessential Gen Z girl. How were you able to gel that cool girl vibe with some real authenticity?
KD: If I'm honest, that was a result of collaboration between myself, Corinne (Foxx), and the writers. We really wanted Sasha to be a free spirit. A yin and yang with her and her dad. Most of that comes through in the writing. When acting those more intense scenes, I just tried to be completely present in who she was.
IM: Porscha, you're playing a woman at the top of her game who is also stepping up for her family. It's nice to see her being pursued by someone because we often don't see that with professional Black women onscreen. How do you feel about that?
Porscha Coleman: I love it. Everybody wants love. Even if it's a hardworking, successful woman, you want to have someone there to love and support you at the end of the day. I love the way they've scripted her to be super ambitious but not so tough that she's off-putting.
IM: Jonathan, you're this wonderful extra comedic relief that everyone loves on a sitcom, but you're also playing a police officer. That's such a delicate character to take on during this time? How mindful of that were you?
JK: Oh, very much so. We filmed this August, and at that time of the year, we were incredibly mindful of it. We wanted to bring perspective and have real dialogue about what families were talking about at that time. We're trying to open the lines of communication. It was always front of mind. We would talk about every scene and where we wanted it to end up.
IM: After 30 years, David, you reunited with Jamie Foxx. The chemistry is still there. How does it feel to be back on screen with him?
David Alan Grier: Life is amazing, and I don't say that to be facetious. When Jamie called me, it was like a presidential call. I know he's calling me about some serious stuff. He said we were doing a sitcom, and I couldn't believe it. I asked him, 'Why are you doing a sitcom?' I mean, this man can do anything he wants. And he said this was the story he wanted to do forever. That's what makes it unique. After all of this time and all of the things we've done in different parts of the industry, for Jamie to have the passion and enthusiasm to come back in this venue is special.
When he told me I was playing his father, he asked me if I was offended, and I was like, 'Stop.' I would've played his sister, ok? Let's work! I want to play whatever role best serves the story.
IM: Jamie, this is big; you're back in the sitcom space. This isn't the normal family show. What drew you to this story?
Jamie Foxx: We caught that bug when we did Live In Front of A Studio Audience: The Jeffersons. The audience was going crazy. I talked to my daughter and said, 'That idea we've always had, Dad Stop Embarrassing Me, for so long, we can actually get that off.' And Netflix is perfect for that because you can lay all your wares out on that platform.
It's not network TV, so it's different; it's more free. The only tricky part was that it's only eight episodes, so you have to find chemistry quickly. The good thing ended up being that we didn't have a studio audience. We were able to start, stop, and the next thing you know, we gelled.
As far as coming back to TV, I had some unfinished business. I'm going to be honest with you. My youngest daughter would watch the Martin show way more than she watched the Jamie Foxx show. I would be like, 'Man, he got it.' I would watch and the fact that he was able to do all the characters—I said, 'If we catch a light with all of the characters on the show, we can service all the funny.'
So, we have the corny sitcom dad with the skinny jeans, but then the characters pop in and give us, in our culture, the thing that we missed on In Living Color. The thing we missed on Martin. When David Alan Grier stepped in, I was like, 'Oh, we about to get in that bag.' Hopefully, fingers crossed, we get a second season and can continue to do more of those characters. And continue to let Kyla—I've always told her that the only way the show works is through her. People have seen me and David's old asses for a long time, but with her, I want people to see it through her eyes—a young, Black princess growing up and trying to find her way.
IM: What was it like working with your daughter, Corinne, as an executive producer on this show?
JF: She doesn't play around, first of all. I was doing something on stage thinking I was being funny, and she called down like 'What is that?' I'm like I'm being funny, and she said, 'That ain't funny, you trying to get canceled or you want the show to succeed?'
She put it all together. She was that voice and understood what we wanted to say to make sure it fits with today's world. I leaned on her for that and even the promos; she put all that together. As a parent, your kids represent what you did. How your kid turns out is how you're really evaluated. I've been blessed, and I say thank you that I got a good egg.
It's such a joy to see Black sitcoms having such a major comeback. Mark your calendars for April 14th!