Kenya Barris is a television and film director, producer, writer, and actor who has a net worth of $75 million. He is famous for creating the ABC sitcom “black-ish,” which started airing in 2014 and later spawned the spinoff series “grown-ish” and “mixed-ish.” Barris has also co-written such films as “Girls Trip” and “Coming 2 America,” and made his acting debut on his Netflix sitcom “#blackAF” in 2020.
Kenya Barris was born on August 9, 1974, in Inglewood, California as the second of five children. He got his name due to his father’s visit to the nation. When Barris was five years old, his parents divorced. For his higher education, he went to Clark Atlanta University, the first historically black university in the Southern United States.
Kenya Barris Television Career, 2000-2014
Barris started his television career in 2000 as a writer for the UPN sitcom “Girlfriends.” The series ran for eight seasons until 2008, starring Persia White, Jill Marie Jones, Tracee Ellis Ross, Golden Brooks, and Reggie Hayes, among others.
While writing for the show in 2003, Barris partnered with model Tyra Banks to co-create and produce the “America’s Next Top Model” reality television competition. That show aired for 24 seasons, known on the series as “cycles,” up to 2018.
Among his other early television projects, Barris served as a writer on the Showtime drama series ‘Soul Food’ between 2002 and 2004. That show focused on the lives of the Josephs, a Black family in Chicago, Illinois. From 2004 to 2005, Barris was a writer on the CBS sitcom “Listen Up!,” starring Jason Alexander who was a sports show personality based slightly on Tony Kornheiser.
In 2006, Barris Kenya started writing for the series “The Game,” a spinoff of his previous series “Girlfriends.” He remained with that show up to 2014. During his time, he also wrote for the TBS sitcom “Are We There Yet?,” which was based on the eponymous film.
That show starred Coy Stewart, Teala Dunn, Terry Crews, Essence Atkins, and Christian Finnegan. From 2012 to 2013, Barris Kenya wrote for the short-lived Fox sitcom “I Hate My Teenage Daughter,” starring Katie Finneran and Jaime Pressly.
Barris Kenya earned his greatest critical recognition yet in 2014 when he came up with the ABC sitcom “black-ish.” Starring Anthony Anderson, Marcus Scribner, Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi, and Laurence Fishburne, among many others, this show focuses on the lives of an upper-class Black family as they deal with lots of personal and sociopolitical events.
Apart from creating “black-ish,” Barris Kenya has directed and written most of the episodes. The show has got many awards and nominations over the years, including many NAACP Image Awards and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for Tracee Ellis Ross.
Because of the runaway success of “black-ish,” Barris developed a spinoff known as “grown-ish” with Larry Wilmore in 2018. The series followed Zoey, the eldest daughter of the Johnson family, as she sets off on her path toward adulthood.
Apart from Yara Shahidi starring as Zoey, “grown-ish” features Francia Raisa, Chloe Bailey, Deon Cole, Trevor Jackson, and Chris Parnell, among many others. In 2019, Barris Kenya co-created a second spinoff to “black-ish” called “mixed-ish,” and that was designed as a prequel to the former series; the other developers were Tracee Ellis Ross and Peter Saji.
Barris Kenya loosely based the show on the early life of his wife, Dr. Rania Barris, portrayed as a youth by Arica Himmel. Other cast members included Gary Cole, Tika Sumpter, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar. After two seasons, “mixed-ish” was canceled in 2021.
In August 2018, Kenya Barris signed a $100 million exclusive production and development deal with Netflix. Barris has been featured in many other television credits and Netflix productions over the year.
Barris Kenya made his first foray into feature films as a co-writer of the comedy sequel “Barbershop: The Next Cut,” published in 2016. He re-teamed with Tracy Oliver, his co-writer on that film, to write the hit 2017 romcom “Girls Trip,” starring Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall, and Tiffany Haddish.
Next, in 2019, Barris Kenya was involved in the production of the fantasy comedy “Little” and co-wrote the action comedy sequel “Shaft” with Alex Barnow. With Guillermo del Toro and Robert Zemeckis, he then co-wrote the 2020 fantasy comedy “The Witches,” which was based on the eponymous Roald Dahl novel and it starred Stanley Tucci, Octavia Spencer, Anne Hathaway, and Chris Rock.
Together with Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield, Barris Kenya co-wrote the 2021 comedy “Coming 2 America,” a sequel to the 1988 film. In that film, Eddie Murphy reprised his original role as Prince Akeem Joffer, with Arsenio Hall coming back to play Semmi.
Barris also co-wrote the 2022 Disney remake of “Cheaper by the Dozen” with Jenifer Rice-Genzuk Henry. During the same year, he made his feature film directorial debut with “You People,” a Netflix film that he co-wrote with actor Johan Hill. That film’s ensemble cast features Hill together with Mike Epps, Rhea Perlman, Eddie Murphy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Deon Cole, Bryan Greenberg, and many others.
In 1999, Barris Kenya married Dr. Rania “Rainbow” Edwards, an anesthesiologist and together they have six children. Although they had announced a divorce in 2019, they eventually called it off in 2020.
In July 2019, Kenya Barris paid $7.6 million for an impressive mansion in Encino, California. In May 2020, Kenya paid $4.6 million for a home in Studio City, California.