“Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris has revealed that he was offered $100 million to continue creating content for Netflix, but he turned it all down.
“I think a lot of people thought I got fired or I quit, like ‘F*ck this,’ over some kind of beef with Netflix,” says Barris of his departure from Netflix in a sitdown with The Hollywood Reporter.
He says that he would have renewed his contract with the streaming platform, but they weren’t prepared to let him produce edgier content.
“I’ll call this a diversity play, in some aspects, because it’s important to call a spade a spade,” he said, adding that “it’s a special time in this industry if you’re Black and you have something to say.”
Barris has been hard at work helping streaming giants Hulu, Apple, Showtime and Starz create show ideas. “I want to do in-your-face sh*t,” he says. “I want to sell to everybody — and if you don’t want to work with me, I’m not saying that you’re racist, but other people might.”
Barris likened Netflix to CBS.
“The stuff I want to do is a little bit more edgy, a little more highbrow, a little more heady, and I think Netflix wants down the middle,” he explained. “Netflix became CBS.”
He says he was in talks with BET a few years back but that “BET was always like secondhand embarrassment because it wasn’t at that same level.”
He says this time around, he asked his agent whether Netflix would fork out $100 million. On a Zoom call, the network informed him of a project they were working on to create a Black-owned studio.
“I was like, ‘What the f*ck is happening?'” recalls Barris. “It was not the conversation I expected to have in any way, shape or form, but I said, ‘The short answer is yes.’ “
Barris left Netflix to join ViacomCBS. He has teamed up with the network and BET to launch BET Studios.