As black-ish returns, the actor talks cast chemistry and on screen representation.

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Jacket PALM ANGELS, trousers MARNA RO, glasses GIANT VINTAGE, shoes ADIDAS

Actor. Humanitarian. Student. At the age of 17, Marcus Scribner – much like his on screen sister, Yara Shahidi – is doing more than most teenagers his age. With an acting career that began seven years ago (crazy, right?), Scribner landed his first major role in 2014 playing the quirky and beloved Andre Jr. on ABC’s black-ish.
A NAACP Image Award, Peabody Award and several Emmy and SAG nominations later, Scribner continues to enjoy his steady climb to major success. “It’s been a wild ride,” he tells us when quizzed on fame, “but it’s been a lot of fun so I’m hoping to continue with it and keep it pushing.”
As the season four of black-ish lands in the US (UK fans, do as we do and keep them eyes locked on Insta for updates), we grabbed five with the actor to hear more about said fame, the importance of representation, and Scribner’s commitment to charity work (rest assured Bow would be proud).



So when did you first realise you were interested in acting?

I think it was when I was around seven years old. I was super shy, didn’t really have hobbies – I was just focusing on school – when my parents asked me what did I want to do and if I wanted to have any extracurricular hobbies. So I tried out different sports, I played basketball and lacrosse and then I tried an acting class and just fell in love with the craft. I was able to attend acting classes every weekend really just honing my work and making sure that I could do it to the best of my ability. I finally booked my first decent sized role as a guest star on Castle when I was 10 years old, then black-ish was my first huge role when I was around 14.

You began acting at such a young age, how has your career impacted your youth?

I think that it has definitely had an effect on my life in general. Acting has always been my passion so going to auditions was a main stage in my life, doing different things of that nature and just improving myself in general. It didn’t really affect anything until I booked black-ish. I was 14 and that’s when I stopped going to normal high school, now I do online school. People recognise me in the streets which is pretty awesome, I get to go to cool parties, meet cool people.

Obviously you’re still quite young. How do you feel about your success so far – did you ever imagine that you would be doing so much at 17?

It feels great. It feels amazing. It came as a total surprise because I had been auditioning for a while doing smaller roles and when I finally booked black-ish, I had been told by many people “just because you get a pilot, doesn’t mean it’s going to take off.” People do pilot episodes and then the show ends up flopping but black-ish is different – we succeeded with our pilot episode. People enjoyed it and we just kept going with the show until we’re at the point we are now, and I think that it’s because of our expert writing and the awesome cast that we have. It’s all of our chemistry, it’s a match made in heaven.

If you weren’t acting, what would you be doing right now?

I never really had a career goal. I always made sure to just stay on top of my school work but I’ve always had a passion for video games. Maybe I would be going to school for video game design or something like that. I have no clue actually. I want to go to USC for college and study communications there. I don’t know what I would do with that degree. I’ll let the road take me where it does.

Let’s talk more about black-ish. Given that minority groups are frequently cast in stereotyped roles, what does it mean to be playing a part in positive representation for minority groups on screen?

I think it’s extremely important. Growing up, I always thought about representation of my skin colour on television, whether it’s Everybody Hates Chris or That’s So Raven, shows like that with people to look up to that were actually positive representations of African-Americans in the United States. I feel like oftentimes, we’re portrayed as the drug dealer, the thug, things like that, I feel like television and entertainment in general has the ability to influence young minds and I feel it’s important to put positive thoughts in those minds instead of negative ones. So I’ve really taken the platform from the show and my followers on social media and everybody in general to hopefully spread a positive message and give people something to look up to. I definitely agree that television often represents minorities in a negative light, and black-ish and my character in general, has really been trying to change that.

What can we look forward to seeing from Andre Jr. this season?

Well, Junior is developing as a character. He’s getting older, he’s not going to be as gullible, his style is changing up. He’s always been a character [on our show] whose been focused on the issues and you’ll definitely see him tackling more of those in his school – and life in general – as he grows up. Also we have a baby in the house now so you’ll definitely see more interactions with the baby and Junior, it’s going to be a pretty fun season in general. [We have] a lot of stuff to work with Donald Trump as president, so this season should be pretty banging.

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T-shirt GUESS, dungarees JOYRICH, sunglasses GIANT VINTAGE, shoes ADIDAS

Talk us through the similarities between Marcus and Andre Jr.. Are there any?

I would say we’re both pretty decently stylish. The closet they got for Junior on set is pretty amazing, I mean I’ve never seen the dude wear the same shoes twice in a row so that’s saying something. I would say that Junior is a little bit more gullible than I am in real life, a bit nerdier and more of a goody two-shoes. We’re pretty similar in our love for comic books and stuff like that though.

Who’s your industry icon?

On black-ish I already have two great role models: Jennifer Lewis and Laurence Fishburne have been doing their thing for years. It’s just great looking at their acting styles and the way that they do everything. The confidence that they portray on screen is very inspiring. I feel like they’re two great role models that I have right there in front of me.

I also look up to Leonardo DiCaprio who has a career that I would definitely like to follow. He started off a child actor and has been successful in his adulthood as well. There are so many actors who have been able to transition well and it’s really inspiring.

Can you tell us about your work with The Sandals Foundation and how you got involved with the organisation?

I was able to travel throughout the Caribbean— Turks and Caicos and Jamaica—in working with The Sandals Foundation, visiting schools that were dilapidated and didn’t have enough funding for things like pencils, paper or anything like that. One of the schools we actually went to was literally in a cargo container from a cargo ship and that’s what they learned out of. I was reading some of the kids work and talking to them and they were just as smart as any 5th grader in the States, if not smarter. They were coming up with amazing ideas. We decided to partner with Microsoft as well to donate 13 Surface Laptop computers to one of the schools out there. It was on Earth Day, so I did a tree planting program as well.

The way the planet is going right now, you don’t know where the future is headed but just getting to talk to the kids and hang out with them, we did a reading road trip as well, where we read to a whole bunch of classes. I really got started with The Sandals Foundation a couple years ago and it’s been amazing to see the development that we’ve been able to make throughout the Caribbean and working and giving back to everyone that has helped them get where they are. It’s definitely been an inspiration and something I hope to continue whenever my next hiatus comes up.

What’s been the most rewarding experience you’ve had so far working with The Sandals Foundation?

When I first visited one of the primary schools out in Jamaica and seeing how happy all the kids were to see us. I got flooded with hugs and it was the most heartwarming experience of my life.

Amazing. So finally, what’s next for Marcus?

Well I’ve been doing some pretty cool projects with DreamWorks and some awesome animations that I’m excited for everyone to see. I’m hoping to book more movie roles, maybe play a bigger role in a feature, that would be awesome. Just putting that out into the world. I’m hoping there’s a lot more on the horizon for me. Definitely hope to continue acting and doing bigger and bigger things. Reaching out to more people and changing more people’s lives. There’s a lot that I have planned for the future.

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Shirt and trosers MARNA RO, jacket PHLEMUNS, shoes ADIDAS

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