Jenifer Lewis Talks 'Black-ish' Animated Election Special & Teases 'Old-ish' Spinoff (Exclusive)
By Liz Calvario
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The Black-ish family is getting the animated treatment. Ahead of their season 7 premiere, ABC will air a one-hour special which includes an animated episode titled "Election Special Pt. 2" on Sunday.
The first episode sees Junior excited about heading to the polls to cast his first vote, only to run into some problems. The second shows Dre’s co-worker running for Congress, which prompts Dre to campaign against him. ET caught up with Ruby herself, Jenifer Lewis, to talk about the upcoming election-based episodes and how she reacted to seeing herself as an animation.
"Well, it could have been a little cuter," Lewis joked about her animated self. "I love playing Ruby. And, no, they did good by all of us. They did! We all looked good. It's like we're there. It's a lot of fun."
"When I heard it was going to be an animation, at first that [gave us] two weeks that we didn't have to be on set. So I was very excited about that," Lewis, who had been a bit concerned about returning to work amid the coronavirus pandemic, shared. "And the script for the election special episode is brilliant. All about the Millennials voting and what we have to do, and Junior growing up to where he can vote. What can I tell you? We attack all of those issues with humor. The writers are the stars, they pull it all together."
The episode is directed by Matthew A. Cherry, with animation produced by Smiley Guy Studios and Big Jump Entertainment.
"Honey, his notes. I blushed a little bit because you know I follow notes really well," Lewis said of working with Cherry. "He gives great notes because it's more in and out of there now. You got to lock it down, no playing around, not a lot of playing around. People want to go home. You get in there, get this job done, let's get out of there."
Lewis, meanwhile, along with Laurence Fishburne, are set to get her own spinoff, Old-ish. The show will follow Ruby and Earl as they give love a second chance.
"The show is going to be amazing, we're coming from that Boomer generation that will give some of that tradition and hard love to everybody watching now," she teased. "Right now it's just in development. Kenya [Barris] is writing the pilot as we speak, so when I get the pilot I will know more. But I do know that we're going to be addressing some of the same issues as we have on Black-ish…We're going to be talking about gentrification, the differences between the generations, how the internet has changed everything, how Boomers are so clumsy with technical issues, and just a lot of bad interacting, aging."
"It's going to be incredible," she continued, adding that she thinks Ruby and Earl are "going to be in therapy."
With a career spanning 40 years, Lewis couldn't be more honored and grateful for all her continued success.
"I'm overwhelmed with gratitude. Right when quarantine happened, I was hired for, I think, 10 animations. They called me and said they were giving me my star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Black-ish was coming back. Old-ish is in the air," she marveled. "I'm just so grateful. I have so much to balance…But let me assure you though, show business is one thing. But my activism is what's very important to me right now."
The Black-ish two-episode, one-hour special, airs on Sunday, Oct. 4 at 10 p.m. on ABC, with the seventh season premiering Oct. 21, at 9:30 p.m.