And as they say goodbye to their characters Ruby Johnson and Charlie Telphy — the mother and co-worker, respectively, of Andre Johnson (Anderson) — when the “Black-ish” series finale airs Tuesday (April 19) at 9 p.m., Lewis and Cole are more than proud-ish of the show’s legacy in representing the African-American experience.
“We made history — and I’m extremely proud of it,” Lewis, 65, told The Post. “We did an excellent job entertaining people — and we did an excellent job educating people. We made them think, dance, sing and hope. That’s what the f–k we did … We touched the souls of the people with our show.”
Deon Cole (left) played Anthony Anderson’s co-worker in eight seasons of “Black-ish.” ABC“Nobody else was telling those stories,” added Cole, 50. “It opened the door for a lot of black shows to happen … We started seeing more black shows showing different perspectives of black people.”
Indeed, the “movement” that Cole describes includes “Black-ish” spinoffs “Grown-ish” — which has been renewed for a fifth season on Freeform — as well as the now-canceled “Mixed-ish.”
Lewis credits “Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris for his “unafraid” vision as well as the show’s writers. “I’ve always said that the writers were the stars of ‘Black-ish,’ ” she said, “with them being able to combine the comedy and drama of issues like the N-word, police brutality, postpartum depression. I mean, they hit on all of it [with] the multi-generational aspect of the show.”
Jenifer Lewis, Laurence Fishburne, Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross represented the African-American experience on “Black-ish.”ABCCole points to the show’s Juneteenth episode in 2017 as a real game-changer. “I remember shooting that episode … going over the facts and the history of it,” said Cole. “I remember really educating [white costars Peter Mackenzie and Jeff Meacham]. And there were some black people on the set who didn’t know about it either.”
In fact, Cole credits “Black-ish” for helping to get Juneteenth — marking the freeing of the last US slaves on June 19, 1865 — declared a federal holiday in 2021. “Absolutely — 100 percent ‘Black-ish’ had something to do with that,” he said. “It was amazing to see the power of what we did. We did that with a lot of things.”
Deon Cole (second from left) with “Black-ish” costars Jeff Meacham, Anthony Anderson and Marcus Scribner.ABCFor Lewis, the final season’s episode guest-starring Michelle Obama was a highlight of her series run. “When Michelle Obama came onto the set, you could hear a pin drop,” she said. “We were all so excited and honored. The former first lady of the United States of America was there with the family, embracing us with her everythingness, darling … She said to me, ‘My mama told me to tell you hello.’ And honey, you couldn’t speak to me for days after that.”
Lewis and her “Black-ish” hubby Laurence Fishburne — who also served as one of the show’s executive producers — go all the way back to the 1993 Tina Turner biopic “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” in which they played mother-in-law and son-in-law.
“We became like sister and brother on the set of ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It,’” she said. “So when they called me and told me about a show called ‘Black-ish,’ and they said Laurence Fishburne’s name, I said, ‘Baby, you had me at hello.’ ”
Jenifer Lewis and “Black-ish” hubby Laurence Fishburne go all the way back to 1993’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It.”ABCNow Lewis — who is known as the Mother of Black Hollywood — will go on to co-star with Vanessa Bayer and Molly Shannon in the Showtime comedy “I Love That for You,” premiering April 29. Meanwhile, Cole is shooting the musical remake of “The Color Purple,” due in 2023, and will star in the upcoming BET+ dark comedy “Average Joe.”
And no doubt, “Black-ish” will still live on in reruns. “These episodes are gonna forever resonate,” said Cole. “They’re gonna resonate until the world becomes different.”