EXCLUSIVE: 'Black-ish' Star Anthony Anderson Opens Up About Police Brutality Episode: 'I've Had to Live Throug
By Desiree Murphy
On the eve of the Oscars, Anthony Anderson reflected on his not-so-glamorous childhood memories.
The Black-ish star attended the Ebony Magazine and Apple Celebrate Black Hollywood party at NeueHouse Hollywood in Los Angeles on Saturday, where he opened up to ET about the police brutality episode that aired last week.
"The response has been overwhelming about the episode that we did, which is entitled 'Hope,'" Anderson, 45, explained. "I've had to live through that. I have been a victim of police brutality in my hometown of Compton [California] growing up as an inner city youth."
"I've been a victim of police brutality while protesting the Klu Klux Klan rally while a student at Howard University, so my experience with that is first hand," he continued. "I think that it's a story that needs to be told."
In the episode that aired last week, the family gathered around their television to watch as the verdict in the case of a policeman tasing an unarmed civilian was revealed. The news prompts a lengthy discussion among the characters.
Black-ish showrunner Kenya Barris previously told The New York Times that he was "nervous" to see what the reaction would be, saying "it's not a super-funny episode." According to Anderson (and the reaction online), it proved to be a success.
"I'm glad that ABC has given it the platform to do so," Anderson added. "But, you know, we also pride ourselves on dealing with divisive topics that bring people to the table to spark dialogue and discussion as to how to make change, and that's what I'm most proud of about what we're doing with our television show Black-ish."
ET also caught up with Yara Shahidi, who plays Anderson's on-screen daughter. She spoke to the groundbreaking nature of the hit ABC comedy.
"Before I auditioned for Black-ish, there were a lot of scripts I received for pilot season. A lot of them it was like the token black friend role or, I think, every single character description started with 'urban,'" she explained. "It was refreshing to get the Black-ish script, because it was about something. I think not only does it track the universal family experience, but it really tackles the societal issues that we deal with today, and I'm glad to be a part of a show like that. That proudly tackles these problems that people are scared to touch."
"The one thing about Black-ish is that it's a beautiful set to grow up on," she revealed. "Especially in finding my voice and finding my opinion. I think that even with the Oscars coming up, the people that were nominated are talented, but when you see that there were box office hits and critically acclaimed movies in 2015 that were centered around people of color that were snubbed, it's one of those things where it's like, what does that say about societal acceptance of the movies we create?"
"I feel like when an actor creates something, they're creating it for the world," Shahidi continued. "They're not just creating it for their community. Yes, there's [a] target audience, but they're sharing a story with the world and they hope their performance or this facet that they're exposing of themselves has some sort of impact, and for that not to be recognized, I mean, especially after all of the work that they put in, it's kind of heartbreaking."
Anderson chimed in on the issue, specifically explaining how he thinks Chris Rock will do as host of the 88th Academy Awards.
"[He's going to] burn the house down," he confidently stated. "You know Chris Rock is just going to control that stage and do what he wants to do and I'm excited to watch."
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