Netflix has officially reversed its renewal of #blackAF. Kenya Barris' semi-autobiographical comedy series received a second season order a year ago Wednesday, but is now being developed as a potential film franchise at the streaming platform, according to The Hollywood Reporter, with Brazil and Mexico-set installments reportedly in early development.
#blackAF released its only season in April 2020 starring Barris as a version of himself with Rashida Jones, an executive producer on the project, playing his wife Joya. The eight-episode series explored being a wealthy Black family today and also starred Genneya Walton, Iman Benson, Scarlet Spencer, Justin Claiborne, Ravi Cabot-Conyers and Richard Gardenhire Jr. as the couple's kids.
Barris previously produced the sketch comedy Astronomy Club for Netflix but left his deal with the streamer in January for a new deal with ViacomCBS. "I think a lot of people thought I got fired or I quit, like ‘F— this,’ over some kind of beef with Netflix," Barris told THR. What it came down to was a difference in viewpoints, Barris shared, as he wasn't willing to jump into the commercial production role the streamer wanted and Netflix wasn't willing to be Barris' edgy conveyance platform. Barris said he actually wasn't sure Netflix would have re-upped his $100 million deal if his reps hadn't figured out his exit from their partnership, as they had previously done with a previous Disney deal.
"I was f—ing terrified," he said of meeting with Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos. "This dude had come and saved me with a beyond-generous offer and he let me act, and I’m not an actor, in a show that wasn’t their cup of tea. And they paid a ton of money for that show, they let me put on Deon Cole’s special and an experimental sketch comedy show [Astronomy Club], they gave me beautiful offices and they never knocked on my door and asked what I was doing. I was like, ‘Is this the definition of ungrateful?’" Sarandos was amendable, however, and the two parted on good terms.
He's now a part of a new deal that gave him roughly a third in equity and a board seat in what would become BET Studios. "I just don’t know that my voice is Netflix’s voice," he said of the decision to exit his deal with the streamer. "The stuff I want to do is a little bit more edgy, a little more highbrow, a little more heady, and I think Netflix wants down the middle." As for what Barris is interested in moving forward he said, "I want to do in-your-face s—. I want to sell to everybody — and if you don’t want to work with me, I’m not saying that you’re racist, but other people might.”
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