Kenya Barris Clears Air Over Divorcing Biracial Wife, Shuns #BlackAF castigation.

by Duke Magazine
Rainbow Edwards-Barris and Kenya Barris
Image credit: Paul Archuleta/ Getty

Kenya Barris is loosening up after he was headlined lately on social media. Speaking with T.I. about his podcast “Expeditiously”, Kenya expressed his dissatisfaction to resentment from critics who dislike #BlackAF, his very show on Netflix due to its light-skinned cast.

He also went on to divulge how divorce is fairing with him. The show creator filed for a divorce last year summer after 20 years of marriage.

Kenya is intentional in making the critics aware that he is conversant with their criticisms about #BlackAF, and couple with the fact that Rashida Jones is biracial; he is aware about his wife being racial and her role makes perfect sense. 

Kenya tells Tip:

Kenya: People have called me and told me ‘this is my favorite show’, people have called me and said ‘I hate this.’

T.I.: [Re: Rashida Jones and colorism outrage on social media] What do you think hurt people’s feelings about that?

Kenya: I won’t speak on Rashida but I will say this about her: she’s the only person I ever wanted to do that role. She did it in a way that is perfect. She held me up and carried me through that. I feel like she’s done a pitch-perfect job. This was based on my family. She’s playing a version of my wife who is biracial. My kids look like those kids, who are amazing. If you dug just a little bit under the surface you will find this is biographical.

Even though he has included his wife into several of his scripts, things are almost edging to a wrap for the couple. Kenya opened up about his divorce with wife Dr. Raina “Rainbow” Barris-Edwards. The pair married in 1999. The couple previously filed for divorce in 2014 but reconciled and withdrew the papers in 2015. Now their divorce is back on and he calls the split “the toughest thing I’ve ever been through in my life.”

Kenya: It is part of life. When I was growing up, we didn’t have—I never saw Cliff and Clair argue. If you look at sitcoms and our stories, we’re supposed to be okay. But 52% of marriages don’t work. And the notion of understanding—We didn’t know about therapy or really understand it. We didn’t know about really having the church or other married friends that would have given us the skeleton to make it in another sort of way. So I feel like talking about that to a generation of people who might be going through what I’m going through, it makes them say, ‘Hey, there’s other people out there like me. Maybe we can make it. Maybe we can’t.’ I just want to be as real with my sh*t as possible. It is the toughest thing I’ve ever been through in my life.

T.I.: Especially when you have to go through it in the public.

Kenya: Somehow, some f*cked up way, it got announced on my birthday I didn’t file on my birthday but it got announced on my birthday. I don’t know that people care about me getting divorced. I’m not anybody, especially at that point. And all of a sudden it’s in the papers as I’m getting off the plane coming from Atlanta. I have my wife calling me. I have my daughter who’s a sophomore at USC calling me. I have my daughter, who’s a senior in high school, calling me because her friends are talking about it. I’m just not used to…it’s a different world than I ever expected and I’m trying to experience it with the audience in real time. This is all happening to me as it’s happening on air.

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