Barris is an American film and TV writer, director, executive producer, and actor.
In a statement regarding his name Barris once said, “My mom went through civil rights; my dad went through civil rights. My name was Kenya because they wanted to give me an African name.” His father is said to have visited Kenya, so naming his son after the country came easy.
Barris began his career in 1997, and wrote the comedy drama Girlfriends which started airing in 2000.
Over the years, he has created great films and TV shows, such as the famous sitcom Black-ish, which has earned him several awards.
He also co-wrote the very much loved Eddy Murphy movie Coming 2 America, as well as Samuel L. Jackson’s Shaft.
His work is mostly loved because of the great sense of humor in them, since his main focus is comedy.
He also circles his movies and TV shows around Blacks, and presents some of the challenges being Black brings using a sense of humor.
He has worked with studios such as Warner Bros Pictures, Amazon Studios, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Studios, New Line Cinema, and Netflix.
In Television, he has worked with several networks including The CW, ABC, Fox, CBS, TBS, and UPN among others.
Let us look at the most famous TV and Movies created and produced by Kenya Barris.
The sitcom revolves around the lives of an upper middle-class black family.
The family head, Andre Johnson, is an advertising executive raising his family in an ultra-suburban neighborhood.
His wife, Dr. Rainbow Johnson, is from a bi-racial family and does not get along with her mother-in-law, Ruby Johnson.
They both share 4 children, each with their own unique personalities.
The sitcom is created, written, directed, and co-produced by Kenya Barris.
The show has 8 seasons and was aired on ABC network from September 24, 2014, through April 19, 2022.
Grown-ish is a spin-off series of Black-ish, following the college life of Dre Johnson’s all-grown daughter, Zoey.
As all teenagers do, she’s excited to leave home, join college and make new friends. But much to her dismay, it turns out that her life isn’t going as she had hoped.
Later in the series after Zoey graduates, her younger brother Junior joins college as well.
Barris is the creator, writer, and executive producer of this single-camera teen comedy.
3. Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali
This is an American documentary film based on Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X, a book by Johnny Smith and Randy Roberts.
Released on September 9, 2021, the film tells of the historic friendship the two icons shared resulting from a chance meeting and their fallout.
The documentary was produced by Kenya Barris, alongside Ayanna Hart and Jason Perez.
4. Astronomy Club: The Sketch Show
Produced by Kenya Barris, this sketch comedy series shows sketches related to the black race and the issues they have to deal with in their day-to-day lives using humor.
It covers issues of experience, relationships, and their reception in the media industry.
Despite positive criticism from the audience, the show was canceled after one season.
5. I Hate My Teenage Daughter
The sitcom revolves around two single mothers, who have been best friends since high school.
With both of them having teenage daughters, they strife to make their kids’ lives in high school as smooth as they can, protecting them from the discrimination they received while in school.
However, their daughters become the exact kind of girls who picked on them while in high school.
The show was written by Barris, and it aired on Fix Network from November 30, 2011, to March 20, 2012.
6. Soul Food
Soul Food is an American family drama written by Kenya Barris that aired on Showtime Network from June 28, 2002 to May 26, 2004.
The series had 5 seasons and 74 episodes, and was quite popular, receiving a star rating of 7.6 on IMDB.
It follows the lives of an African-American family living in Chicago; their wins, struggles, and rivalries.
Co-written by Kenya Barris and Alex Barnow, Shaft is an American action comedy film.
It features three generations of the Shaft family, John Shaft Sr., John Shaft II, and J.J. Shaft as they unite to help Junior uncover the secrets lying behind his best friend’s sudden death.
Barris was not involved in the 2000 Shaft movie. However, he was the executive producer of the 2019 film.
8. Coming 2 America
Barris co-wrote Coming 2 America with Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield.
He is also the executive producer of this Amazon Studio film released on March 4, 2021.
In the plot of the film, Akeem, the King of Zamunda, father of three daughters, is made aware that he has a son back in America.
And since only boys can be heirs to the throne, he makes the trip to Ney York to bring his son back home.
However, his daughter, Princess Meeka, has had her eye on the throne as well.
Barris wrote, created, directed, and acted in the series BlackAF.
He was also the executive producer of this American sitcom.
The official plot of the sitcom states that the series “uncovers the messy, unfiltered, and often hilarious world of what it means to be a ‘new money’ black family trying to ‘get it right’ in a modern world where ‘right’ is no longer a fixed concept.”
In the sitcom, Barris creates a fictional family for himself, the Barris, where he casts as himself.
10. Barbershop: The Next Cut
This is the third movie in the Barbershop film sequel, written by Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver.
It is about a barber and beauty salon that has to be merged into one business to soar through economic hardships.
This presents a challenge to both sexes, as they cannot have the intimate conversations had at barbers or salons anymore.
Crime rates have also risen in the neighborhood, and so they are forced to unite and work as a team to reclaim their neighborhood.
Mixed-ish is a prequel of Black-ish, following the life of Rainbow Johnson, Dre Johnson’s wife, as a teenager, and her experience being raised in a bi-racial family.
It is based on the early life of Barris’ ex-wife, Dr Rania Barris.
The sitcom is created, written, and produced by Barris.
This American comedy-drama series made its first debut on September 11, 2000, and ran for 8 seasons until its cancellation in 2008.
It was the first series Barris wrote that was featured on UPN and later The CW.
The sitcom features three, later four, black girlfriends who make a strong bond of friendship despite coming from different backgrounds.
Together they make achievements and victories while shouldering life’s tests and responsibilities.
13. Girl’s Trip
Girls Trip is an American comedy film released in June 2017.’
As the title suggests, the film is about four lifelong girlfriends who take a trip to New Orleans to celebrate the Essence Festival.
It features famous actresses such as Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, and Jada Pinkett Smith.
The story was inspired by Kenya Barris, Tracy Oliver (the two co-wrote the screenplay), and Erica Rivinoja’s experiences with their female friends.
14. You People
Kenya Barris is the film director of this 2023 American romantic comedy. He co-wrote the script with Jonah Hill, and also co-produced the film.
It features an interracial and interreligious couple dealing with challenges such as culture clash, expectations from society and differences in their generations.
These are just but a few of many of Kenya Barris’ works. His films and TV shows are filled with a great sense of humor targeting an audience across all ages, enough to make you rest easy and forget all your troubles.