EXCLUSIVE: Raven-Symone Talks 'Black-Ish' Coming Out, 'Empire' Season 2 & More!
Raven-Symoné is taking over our TVs – and we're loving it!
Not only did the former child star shake things up on Fox's smash hit Empire, she's becoming a recurring fixture on ABC's The View, and will be returning to her Disney Channel roots in an upcoming episode of Zendaya's K.C. Undercover.
And this week, the actress/singer is heading back to Black-ish to reprise her role as Rhonda, Dre's (Anthony Anderson) sister who has always skirted around the topic of her sexuality. Although she hasn’t come out to the family, everyone knows she’s gay -- except her mother Ruby (Jenifer Lewis) -- but now it's time for everyone to acknowledge the truth.
ETonline called up the That's So Raven star to talk about Black-ish’s groundbreaking storyline, the "wonderful experience" she has had with Whoopi Goldberg on The View -- and she even answers a question from her Empire co-star Jussie Smollett!
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What can you tease about your character Rhonda for all the fans? Would you consider her the cool aunt in the family?
Raven-Symoné: Well I play Anthony Anderson's sister and there's definitely more to come this season, but she's very cool. She doesn't talk that much, but you understand how they can definitely be brother and sister, and yeah, I think she's the cool aunt of the family. She mostly keeps to herself because of her lifestyle and she understands that her family is the "don’t' ask, don't tell" type of family.
We know that Rhonda has been keeping her sexuality a secret. What is her family's reaction when they discover that she is gay in tonight's episode?
RS: From her brother's wife it's of acceptance, and from her brother it's kind of a weird revelation of 'I knew it, but we don’t talk about it' type of thing. From her mother it's a reaction that I'm sure a lot of people in the LGBT community get from an older generation. It's interesting to see how it plays out in the episode, and it will hopefully help others accept themselves and be able to teach acceptance to another generation.
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What does this mean for you personally to be able to play a character who comes out on a network comedy?
RS: It's a lot. It's something different from what I've done before and touching on topics that are both personal and very prevalent in today's political arena and world arena. And it feels good to do it in a way that brings comedy to it. I think comedy has a wonderful way of touching on topics that feed it to you with a spoonful of sugar, and Black-ish does that so well. I was excited to do a topic like this on that show.
It's also been great seeing you appear on The View so often as a guest panelist. Would you ever be open to a more permanent seat on the show?
RS: I would love to be a part of The View in more capacity. I love those ladies, I love talking about current topics, I love getting dressed up again every day and having fun with those women. I think they are very smart, they're very respectful of each other, and everyone respects each other's opinions and lets us get it out. There's so many more guests that we get to interview over the next couple of weeks and I'll be on for that. It's a wonderful, wonderful experience to be having at this age and to be able to express myself now. A lot of people are used to me being quiet, or very very politically correct, or young and only doing comedy, and to really be able to have a conversation between these ladies is great. Working with Whoopi Goldberg is heaven, Nicolle Wallace has been like my new best friend, and Rosie Perez really keeps me on my toes, so I'm enjoying myself.
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We actually caught up with your Empire co-star Jussie Smollett this past weekend and he passed along a guest question for you: "Raven, what do you wish will happen next season between me and you and my baby daughter/sister? Dun dun duuuun!"
RS: [Laughs] Of course Jussie sent that. What do I hope will happen next season? Well, I hope that my character comes back and has more of a relationship with Cookie, and has the ability to kind of fight for her position in Empire's company being that her daughter is an heir, and maybe give some of that money.
I understand that you are returning to your Disney Channel roots and teaming up with Zendaya on K.C. Undercover. What can you tease about the episode for the fans who are excited to see your Disney Channel return?
RS: That Disney Channel episode of K.C Undercover is amazing! I resurrect the crazy antics that you might have seen on That's So Raven and doing it with a little sister like Zendaya, who is very talented and funny in her own right, is a joy. I was also working with people who worked on my show and the company again – it's always good to go back home, it's always good.
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Were you able to give Zendaya any advice while you were on the show?
RS: You now she's a very smart individual, so any advice I gave wasn't necessarily, "Let's sit down and talk," it was show by example. And she gave me wonderful silent advice as well in just how things are progressing in the new generation for things and it was definitely a back and forth learning experience.
Lastly, what is the one thing you want Black-ish fans to know before tuning into your episode tonight?
RS: I want them to know to keep an open mind and understand that this is what a lot of people go through on a day-to-day basis and get ready to laugh.
Black-ish airs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. on ABC.