I was invited by Disney to attend this event. All of my expenses were paid, but I promise all opinions are my own.
ABC’s new hit show, Black-ish, is so funny! Have you seen it? When I was in Los Angeles, we had an awesome opportunity to get a tour of the set led by Tracee Ellis Ross herself. We also sat in the room where they do the script reading and screened a few upcoming episodes!
The opportunity to tour the set of blackish was certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and to have it led by Tracee herself made it even more notable. We arrived at the ABC TV Lot and were greeted by the PR reps for the show. We watched an upcoming episode in the script room and then headed outside towards the set. Tracee was there waiting for us and greeted us with a warm smile and conversation. That, in itself, was amazing – she was so inviting like she was inviting us into her own home! Tracee led us on a tour, told us exclusive insider information.
When we arrived, we noticed that the rooms were really big on the set which surprised me and the other bloggers. Tracee gave us some insight on that:
Tracee: Well, the nice part about the big rooms is it’s easy for shooting. On Girlfriends it was smaller but they were all open, like there was always a wall missing because we shot on multi-cam, which means you shoot more like for an audience. So, these they all close, but like this wall is usually off because they mostly shoot from this side for this room or through the door. But it does make it easy. It makes it really easy and it allows us to do less set ups, which takes less time, which is fantastic! A friend of mine asked how long it took to shoot a 22 minute show and assumed it was like four hours? I told her….. five days. So, then she assumed it was 4 hours each day and I shared that it was a long week! It is kind of amazing to think of how long it takes and how many angles and all that different stuff and how long it takes to shoot 22 minutes.
There are some kids in the show, so Tracee shared above how long their days of filming were. We wondered how long the kids could work…..
Tracee: I don’t know legally what the guidelines are, but there are real hard outs is that there are blocks of school that they have to get in throughout the day. There’s a big calendar in our tent where Donna, our Base Camp A.D. literally marks out the blocks of time that they do for school. So they have hard outs on lunch, like Anthony and I can do grace, like we can push lunch later. The kids can’t. They can shoot on Fridays until 10 o’clock, but only on Fridays. So you’ll bring them in, it still means that their hours are the same, but you can start later ’cause they can go later. So if there’s night scenes, you can only have them till 10 o’clock. So there’s a lot of protection and the younger kids are 10 and 11, and then Marcus and Yara are both 15. I think when they turn 16, there’s an extra hour we get, but they’re really protective and they all have great teachers and they have a great school in a trailer that is half for the younger kids, half for the older kids. It’s kind of amazing, and their teachers are fantastic.
We were asking her these questions and have this awesome conversation with Tracee on the set as she showed us different things, pretty cool experience.
Question: What is it like working with such talented actors?
Tracee: Honestly, talent aside, yes they’re talented, but they’re wonderful people. It’s really joyful, I have to say. I know there’s that myth, don’t work with kids who are animals. I can’t understand that. I had such a good experience. I find it, I mean, you can say it this way, but like they’re, they’ve been on the planet for less time than us and they’re not jaded, like they just have a pure joy that you can’t even fathom. When you see Miles and Marsai in the morning, they run towards you for a huddle up. It’s magic. There’s only so bad that they can be, right? So, usually between takes, there’s a lot of giggling and laughing and videos being taken and pictures and everything, so I really enjoy it. They’re extremely talented. For example Miles, who loves sports. He loves basketball. He loves LeBron James. They’re kids so you say something like focus, like get focused like everybody’s doing their own thing and you’re doing something else for coverage so you’re like telling them to focus. I realize, I was going to bed one night and I was like maybe he doesn’t know what that means. I was like I need to explain that a little bit more because maybe that’s why everybody keeps saying focus, but maybe he has no idea what that means. So I thought about it, you know, a really good metaphor that I was really happy about, because he loves basketball, I was like well it’s like who has the ball. So, now that’s what I say, I’m like who has the ball, but even if he doesn’t have the ball, even if you’re not the one with the ball, who has the ball? So that you stay in the scene and you stay in the game, right? I was really proud of myself. But, you know, they’re so young and they have such a grown-up job on their shoulders and they’re kids. They’re great kids, so it’s really fun.
Question: Do you find yourself mothering them also?
Tracee: I guess so. I mean sort of it’s my way, but I’m that way with myself, so I can understand that. So let me think of a way to explain that to myself. They’re fantastic. They’re wonderful and they’re happy and it’s amazing to me. I mean they’re kids and when they get tired, they have to keep working.
So, we had met Marcus Scribner to chat with him about his part in The Good Dinosaur the day before. We let Tracee know that and then she shared a little about Marcus – who is also in blackish.
Tracee: He’s so talented. I think he’s a little comic genius. No, I do and I think they’re wonderful and we’re really blessed. There’s such a natural connection between all of us that I’m amazed, like it just kind of was there genuinely from the beginning, but it’s only growing more interesting. It’s like we’ve been working together now for like a year-and-a-half so we really know each other and there’s a sense of safety and connection, so it’s really, it’s really special.
The picture above shows Tracee telling us how much they actually obey the signs to not sit or sleep on the furniture!
Trace went to Brown University and in the last episode we wanted to know if they filmed there. Tracee said they did not but she was really excited to represent her alma mater in the show. She said, “One of our Executive Producers also went to Brown. So, it was really fun, because they got to kind of work it in and Anthony actually went to Howard. It was really fun. It was fun to share that and, it was just exciting, and I just thought it was really cool.”
Question: As a biracial woman, how important is it to you to get that story out there?
Tracee: Honestly, they have not explored that story that much on the show, and I will say that I have been very clear, I’m not playing myself. I think it’s really exciting that she’s mixed. I’ve actually never got to play a mixed character on TV. I usually play a black girl. I think it’s exciting that she is mixed but the truth is we haven’t really been exploring that story line, and I have a real clarity that this is a role that I’m playing. So although I try and keep it honest if I don’t believe that sort of that’s the trajectory of what my character would do from truth, like that wouldn’t feel honest, but in terms of what my character’s doing, I leave that to the writers and it’s like kind of like magic when you get the new script because you’re like this is crazy or hilarious, but it’s not me. It’s not my story. So it’s not a matched experience for what my experience has been. I’m not married. I don’t have four kids, you know.
Question: Do you have any input on your wardrobe? Any designers you love to wear?
Tracee: I do have a lot of input on my wardrobe. We have incredible costume team led by Michelle Cole, who’s a very incredible, and been doing this forever. I do have input but they do the shopping. I don’t really specify any designers. My style is a little bit different than Bow, Bow doesn’t wear heels ever. I wear heals all the time. Bow like rarely wears a heel, which I find liberatingly wonderful. It’s so great to not put heels on and one of the things that was very clear to me that I really wanted to bring to Bow is that she dressed hair and makeup wise really like a woman that had authentically. I don’t know a mother of four with a career and a husband and like all of that that can spend a ton of time putting together looks and like, you know, doing the whole thing.
I don’t wear eye shadow and stuff like that. It’s sort of like the mascara and the lipstick is kind of it, which I feel like is sort of her sort of regimen and routine. There’s usually not a lot of jewelry. I feel like the way she pulls from her closet is the way people pull from their closet, so it’s usually like a dress and sneakers or jeans and a cute top. Like I wear a lot more stuff, than she does, but I like to keep it really authentic. I usually remove my mascara and most of my makeup when I’m in the bed. Sometimes, we can’t ’cause we’re about to go back to another scene where I need to be ready. Mostly I try to be authentic and like not have makeup on when I’m in the bed. It’s a pet peeve of mine when you see an actress wake up with lip gloss. I’m like and somehow, it’s not on the pillow. Interesting. And so this is hilarious. It’s so funny. Anyway, so while we’re waiting for lights to come on or off, because we obviously can’t take pictures like that.
In the picture above, Tracee was showing us that she puts the scripts in the different drawers and cabinets around the house. If she forgets her lines, she can easily pull this out.
Question: Do you have a favorite episode?
Tracee: I really liked this weeks episode. In terms of funny, I just thought everybody was so funny. I thought the writing was great. I thought the direction was great. I felt like, even just the little moments between the kids and I just overall thought it was a great one. I loved the N-word episode just because I thought that writing-wise, like that subject was handled like pitch perfect in my opinion. That was such a difficult story to make funny, and somehow they did, and yet we weren’t laughing at the word. I thought that was just so beautifully handled and the fact that it was introduced through Jack was so interesting and such an interesting way to flip that on its head like where even for my character, she had such a stanch like clear like no hate speech whatsoever, but when I was her kid, she got tangled, and I just thought that was so real. She all of a sudden was like a little bit on the fence like maybe it’s okay, you know. So I thought that was really well handled. I thought that the kids were magical in the Halloween episode. I did not see them shoot that. I don’t know if you saw that episode, but when they were attacking the kids and it went into slow mo, I just was crying with laughter. I couldn’t believe how funny that was. It was so funny. And then little Kayla, God, I was like what’s happening? It was so funny to me. So I would say those three right now. Those are all from this season. It’s hard. I love this show. I mean, I laugh when I watch it.I love that you can watch it with your kids and it’s like it’s really fun. The stuff in the office kills me. It’s just great. Yeah. I’m really, I feel really proud to be on the show.
Before we left the set, we took a group shot in the kitchen!!
Tonight there will be a new episode of blackish on ABC tonight at 930PM EST called “Man at Work” where BOW IS NOT HAPPY WHEN DRE’S CHILDHOOD FRIEND (GUEST STAR FAIZON LOVE) CRASHES AT THE HOUSE, AND THE EX-WIFE OF STEVENS & LIDO’S FOUNDING PARTNER (PLAYED BY WANDA SYKES) CHANGES THINGS UP FOR DRE AT WORK
“Man at Work” – Dre has always looked out for the crew he grew up with, but when his childhood friend Sha (guest star Faizon Love) comes to stay at the house for a few days, Bow thinks he is taking advantage of Dre’s generosity. Meanwhile, Daphne Lido (played by Wanda Sykes), the now ex-wife of Stevens & Lido’s founding partner, gains control of half of the company and wants to start inserting herself in company business. When Daphne starts to question Charlie’s work ethic, Dre must decide who he remains loyal to, on “black-ish,” WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 2 (9:31-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
“black-ish” stars Anthony Anderson as Andre “Dre” Johnson, Tracee Ellis Ross as Rainbow Johnson, Yara Shahidi as Zoey Johnson, Marcus Scribner as Andre Johnson, Jr., Miles Brown as Jack Johnson, Marsai Martin as Diane Johnson and Laurence Fishburne as Pops.
Guest starring is Wanda Sykes as Daphne Lido, Faison Love as Sha, Peter Mackenzie as Mr. Stevens, Jeff Meacham as Josh, Deon Cole as Charlie Telphy, Catherine Reitman as Lucy and Issac Ryan Brown as Young Dre.
“Man at Work” was written by Vijal Patel and directed by Kevin Bray.
“black-ish” was created by Kenya Barris and is executive-produced by Barris, Anthony Anderson, Laurence Fishburne, Helen Sugland and E. Brian Dobbins. The series is produced by ABC Studios.
When we were in Los Angeles, we were able to see Chop Shop before it aired! What a fun episode this was! Did you see it???. I won’t give away all of the details but I loved seeing all of their previous Christmas card photos and the different themes that Bow chose for the family. It was so cute! If you missed it, you’ll want to check it out on Watch ABC or Hulu.