If you turn on your TV, you’ll see Deon Cole on any number of your favorite shows. Of course, there are Angie Tribeca and Black-ish, but in 2018 the comedian, actor, and comedy writer has doubled his screen time with his new game show Face Value and Black-ish spinoff series, Grown-ish.
In a quick chat with Global Grind, Deon talked about filming four shows and a new movie almost simultaneously, the brilliance and black girl magic that is Grown-ish star Yara Shahidi, black folk sprinkling a little flavor on the game show world, and how he’s stayed true to his recent commitment to be blacker after visiting Morehouse College. Needless to say, Deon is working hard and as you’d probably guess, he had us dying of laughter by the end of our interview. Get into it:
On Face Value, Angie Tribeca, Black-ish, and Grown-ish:
“I was filming all four at the same time—actually, I started filming Angie Tribeca the week right after Grown-ish. Also, there was this movie I was doing with Katt Williams—so I was doing Grown-ish, Black-ish, this movie with Katt Williams, it was crazy.”
“I’m not complaining,” he added with a laugh. “I’m not complaining…because I remember when I didn’t have anything to do.”
On rising star Yara Shahidi getting her own spin-off:
“I’m going to tell you something, man. If you sit down with that young lady, in minutes you’re going to see why she has her own show. Yara is so bright, she is so beyond her time. I mean, unreal sometimes.”
Deon tells us that all the Black-ish kids are special. “Basically with all the kids on the show, they’re just like on another planet. I’m not even lying. So, it was just inevitable that she would have her own show, period. It made sense—timing is everything,” he said, adding that if the timing is right all the Black-ish characters could eventually get their own series.
Speaking on Yara and Grown-ish, he says “She’s a monster, she’s a monster. I’m not even lying—I can’t wait until everybody sees the rest of this show.”
On why Grown-ish, a sitcom centered around the black college experience, works so well right now:
“It’s warranted,” Deon tells Global Grind. “We don’t have anything like that on TV right now since, like, A Different World or when The Breakfast Club came out. I just think there was nothing like that on air. Also, now a days, as far as how kids are being raised, it’s like a big melting pot—so just to show that…show how it really is in school is crazy. It matches and mirrors today’s time. ”
On how TV got to a point where black folk are taking over game shows:
“To be honest with you, man, black excellence. It don’t even surprise me. We just got to have the chance—Steve Harvey blew the door off that shit, as far as just putting his flavor on it. There’s a difference between having a game show host and having a personality as a game show host—somebody that you know and respect that’s funny. Steve Harvey brought himself to the game show and how you would feel if you were in Harlem watching it, you know what I mean? Once you put your flavor on it and the people see that, then they’ll gravitate toward it. Family Feud is like the Steve Harvey Family Feud now. It’s great! I think a lot of game show people started looking at that.”
As far as how Face Value came about, Deon says Wanda Sykes “came to me with the idea on the set of Black-ish.” When she asked what he thought, he shared his feelings that her idea was really funny but should be a full show. Speaking about the premise of Face Value, which hilariously explores stereotypes amongst all races of people, he explains that it’s “showing how judgmental people are.”
“Shoutout to everybody who’s been watching!” he adds, after saying that he had some really fun times filming the show with guests and co-star Tiffany Haddish.
On how he has been blacker since realizing he wasn’t black enough during his trip to the AUC:
“I have been the blackest I have ever been,” he said laughing. “I’ve been preaching it. I’ve been getting the word out. I’ve been telling people ‘Stop talking white at work. Talk how you talk and if they fire you, you got a lawsuit. Simple as that.” Everybody else is out being themselves at work, so I don’t understand why black people have to change the way they talk in order to be accepted. So that’s what I’ve been telling people: ‘Be as black as you wanna be. Put watermelon in your work refrigerator. You ain’t gotta use utensils if you don’t use them at home. Do whatever you want to do—and ignorant don’t mean black, I promise you. Be who you are.’ I did good with it. I’ve been preaching it and I’m gonna keep on preaching it too, watch.”