Kenya Barris will also receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during Commencement Convocation at Clark Atlanta University on Monday, May 21, at 8 a.m. in the Panther Stadium, 735 Beckwith St, S.W.
The Barris’ annoucement kicks off the University’s 30th anniversary yearlong celebration, which officially starts on July 1, 2018, and will include a host of national events.
Barris, who graduated from CAU in 1996 with a degree in mass media arts, is the creator of Emmy-nominated, Golden Globe-winning television series, “Black-ish.”
“Mr. Barris has lifted his powerful voice in the entertainment industry to explore issues of classism and racism in creative and humorous ways,” said Dr. Ronald A. Johnson, president of Clark Atlanta University. “In giving back to their alma mater, he has again used his powerful voice to articulate the importance of supporting this beloved institution that is giving our students the skills and confidence to find and lift their own voices in the field of their choice.”
Rainbow Barris, who is also a 1996 graduate of CAU with a degree in biology, is a board-certified anesthesiologist and has worked for a major hospital group in Los Angeles for the past six years. She has recently decided to devote herself fulltime to raising the couple’s six children.
“Black-ish” is a prime-time example of art imitating life. The series, which debuted in 2014 and is now in its fourth season, centers on Andre “Dre” Johnson, who, like Barris, is the father of a large family, the husband of a doctor, and is a highly successful black professional with inner-city roots. Dre, again like Barris, is often bewildered by the world of privilege in which he is raising his children.
Barris has previously worked as a writer for television “Sister/Sister,” “Listen Up,” “Like Family,” “The Game,” “Girlfriends,” and “I Hate My Teenage Daughter,” as well as the hourlong “The Keenan Ivory Wayans Show” and the Showtime drama series “Soul Food.”
In 2003, he teamed up with childhood friend, model Tyra Banks, to create the reality television show, “America’s Next Top Model.” He also wrote and created BET’s “The Start Up” and Hulu’s first half-hour comedy series, “We Got Next.” His first feature film, “Barbershop: The Next Cut,” was released in 2016, and he co-wrote the 2107 blockbuster, “Girls Trip.”
Barris has a three-year deal with ABC studios to write and develop future projects. Among them is “Grown-ish,” a spinoff of “Black-ish” focusing on the Johnson family’s eldest daughter who is attending college.