'Black-ish' Cast Reflects on Series Finale: 'It's Really Beautiful to End This as a Celebration' (Exclusive)

ET spoke with the cast on the red carpet of their final PaleyFest as a full cast.

The 39th Annual PaleyFest LA is a bittersweet one for the cast of ABC's Black-ish. Although the annual television festival is markedly special this year because it's the first time it's back in person in three years, it's also the final one that the Black-ish crew will attend together as a cast.

When ET spoke with the stars attending the panel on the red carpet on Monday, the crew reflected on seeing their final season air live and how it feels to say goodbye as their eight-year run ends. For many of the cast present, which includes Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner, Miles Brown, Marsai Martin and Jenifer Lewis, it feels as if they came together for the first time just yesterday.

"I was here a week ago and I was saying as I was coming down in the elevator, I am having flashbacks to our first PaleyFest as a cast and we did a photo shoot with the L.A. Times," Ross said, sharing that she's getting flashbacks of her "teeny little cast members."

And although she's been a bit emotional as the countdown nears an end, the TV mom says it helps that the cast still gets to see one another.  

"I think I will miss coming to work every day," she admitted, adding that she would miss the "chaos" of being around her TV family and their production crew. "I mean, in all honesty, the last two years in COVID we didn't really get a chance to do my favorite thing on the show, which is hair and makeup in the morning. We were all in the trailer together and it was mayhem at 5:30 a.m. in the morning -- music, lines being run and just like the whole thing. So, very, very exciting to be able to do that and now sad to miss that."

Even though the Johnson family is a fictional one, the actors share that working so closely over the last eight years has bonded them into a loving work family that they'll sorely miss. 

"I'm gonna miss the kids," Lewis shared, marveling at how her quickly TV grandchildren grew up over time. "I was just telling Marcus how I swung them around that first week I came in and now they've got mustaches and everything that goes with it."

"And they are beautiful, all of them are beautiful. They're talented, they're good people -- that's what I'm proud of, they're good kids," she added, sharing that she would make sure to look out for her younger castmates. "Oh, Grandma was on top of 'em, honey! I used to promise them a dollar every time I used a cuss word and I wouldn't have no money in the bank."

Brown, who began the series when he was turning nine years old, revealed that he had been the first to "break" during the cast's last table read.

"That was the first time it hit me and it was crazy because we did our table read in a big theater, normally we do it in a small room but we did it in a big theater and it was towards the last scene and I was the first one to start breaking down crying," he shared. "I was the first one and no one expected that because I'm always the happy-go-lucky type. And then everyone came up to me after and was like, 'Once I saw you do that, it made the whole room just follow my lead.' So that was probably when it first hit me."

But the show's "one-of-a-kind experiences" were worth the roller coaster of emotions for Brown. Martin, his TV twin sister, agreed.

"It was my childhood literally from the age of eight/nine to now [when] we're almost 18," she marveled. " It's so insane and it's amazing. I can't imagine how it's been for the families that have been watching for so long to watch all the kids grow up."

For Shahidi -- who currently leads Grown-ish, the show's Freeform spinoff focused on the eldest Johnson child -- the ability to decide on their ending has been "really beautiful."

"It's really beautiful to end this as a celebration. I feel like so many shows, especially now the landscape is ever shifting, you never know when you're last episode's gonna be, your last season's gonna be," she explained. "So for us to walk into this already knowing that this was the conclusion of a wonderful journey means I feel like we've had a lot of agency over how we wanna celebrate and commemorate these moments. And so even this has been like a fun reunion of sorts since filming our finale episode and I think it's created a beautiful moment of closure. It doesn't feel like an abrupt being pushed out."

It's a rose-colored glasses sentiment that her TV father agrees with. 

"We had a nice little eight-year run, all good things must come to an end," Anderson told ET, although he noted that "hopefully" this isn't quite the end for the Johnson family, but "just a pause." 

"You can't spend eight years with the people I just spent eight years with and not have a lasting relationship afterwards and that's what I'm looking forward to," he added.

When looking back on their time as a family, Lewis admitted she was "weepy" when wrapping up the series, noting that the network and production had become "home and family" over the eight years. 

"We were there every day on the Disney lot, safe, cocooned and able to create and give levels and colors that the writers demanded from us," she said. "It was a great gig, baby, and we made history. The creators, the writers, ABC and Disney, they were bold in the subject matters they addressed, the issues of our time, and that's not easy to do with comedy and drama."

But how does one end a series that managed to address so many topics, touch so many hearts and become a staple in households across the country? 

The cast wasn't telling any finale secrets, but they did promise a "great story."

"No one's ever satisfied with the ending of something they love and have been rocking out with for eight-plus years," Anderson reasoned. "Hopefully, we don't disappoint them, but anytime something like this comes to an end, you can never satisfy everyone. But it's a great story that brings this family full circle at the end, and hopefully, we leave them wanting more."