It’s official: Kenya Barris is moving to Netflix.
In a multi-year deal that began Thursday, the creator of the ABC sitcom “black-ish” will write and produce series exclusively for Netflix.
In a statement, Cindy Holland, Netflix’s vice president of original content, praised Barris as “one of our great modern storytellers.”
“Kenya uses his voice to make audiences more aware of the world around them, while simultaneously making them laugh,” she said.
“When my agents reached out to me about this little garage start-up called Netflix, I wasn’t sure what to think,” said Barris, who will produce through his production company Khalabo Ink Society. “But after I talked to Ted and Cindy, I started to believe that maybe this mom-and-pop shop with only 130 million subscribers might just be something... so I decided to take a swing... a leap of faith, if you will, and take a chance with the new kids on the block.”
The deal had been rumored for months, with talk heating up in late July when Barris confirmed he would be leaving ABC Studios three years before his contract was up and relinquishing showrunning duties on “black-ish.”
Barris is the latest A-list writer-producer to defect to Netflix, following Shonda Rhimes, who also left ABC, and Ryan Murphy, who was lured away from Fox.
“black-ish,” which premiered in 2014 and follows a prosperous African American family, has earned critical acclaim for its humorous, heartfelt approach to race and other contentious social issues. Episodes of the single-camera comedy have dealt with police violence against African Americans, the use of the N-word and the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election.
But in March, Barris and ABC ran into creative differences over an episode that touched on a debate about professional athletes kneeling during the national anthem and was ultimately pulled from the schedule.
In addition to “black-ish,” Barris created the spin-off “Grown-ish,” which airs on Freeform and stars Yara Shahidi, and wrote the screenplay for last year’s comedy hit “Girls Trip.” He also co-created the reality competition series “America’s Next Top Model.”
Staff writer Yvonne Villarreal contributed to this report.