Freeform college comedy begins its fifth season
The new season of ‘grown-ish’ means definite growth for Marcus Scribner.
The young actor who played Andre Johnson Jr. — or just “Junior” — on the recently ended series “black-ish” transfers his character to its college-set Freeform spinoff when the latter show’s fifth round begins Wednesday, July 20. He effectively becomes the lead actor as Junior starts studies at the California University of Liberal Arts, or Cal U, but fellow “black-ish” alum Yara Shahidi remains in the cast as Junior’s recently graduated sister Zoey.
Scribner admits he was “a little reluctant to reprise” Junior after “black-ish” ended. “I had been playing him for so long. He’s a dynamic character with many facets, though, so I talked with the writers (of ‘grown-ish,’ on which he guest-starred previously) about fleshing him out and aging him up. He’s in a college setting, so anything can happen, and I was really excited by where they took him.”
As Junior is growing up, Scribner — who notes his alter ego may drop the “Junior” nickname, now that he’s out of his father’s shadow — is growing up along with him. The actor confirms, “I’ve been with the character since I was 13, so there definitely have been a lot of parallel moments. He’s going into college as a 22-year-old freshman, so’s already had a bunch of real-world experience. He’s like, ‘I just want to get in and out and get my degree.’
“Obviously, college is so much more than that,” Scribner says. “He meets so many new people and has so many different experiences that we’ve never seen him in, I think the audience will be pleased. There’s the work-life balance, love interests and everything that we all go through. It’s a lot of trial and error for him.”
Two more “black-ish” veterans, creator Kenya Barris and star Anthony Anderson, remain among the executive producers of “grown-ish.” Scribner says that in shouldering much of the show now, he’s gotten advice from Shahidi, who also stepped into that position from having been a “black-ish” supporting player.
“She’s still a big part of the show,” Scribner asserts. “She’s the one it was based around, and she’s definitely given me a lot of tips and coached me on what it would be like. She’s my ally, and somebody who always will be a part of ‘grown-ish.’ And what I love about the ‘-ish’ universe is that a lot of behind-the-scenes people have come over from ‘black-ish,’ like people who are now assistant directors and writers. It’s one big, happy family, and I couldn’t have a better work environment. It’s such a beautiful thing to see people rise up in the ranks and become who they want to be.”