Mogul-ish: Kenya Barris Is in Talks With ViacomCBS to Co-Own a Whole Studio

Kenya Barris attends the Teyana Taylor “The Album” Listening Party on June 17, 2020.
Kenya Barris attends the Teyana Taylor “The Album” Listening Party on June 17, 2020.
Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images for Def Jam Recordings (Getty Images)

Kenya Barris is really embodying the theme song for his latest TV show, #BlackAF, Jay Rock’s “WIN” (which is in heavy rotation in my headphones because it’s one of my favorite hype songs right now).


According to Deadline, sources are saying that Barris is currently in serious negotiations with ViacomCBS to enter a new venture where he will co-own a studio.

Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva gives a more detailed scoop:

I hear the negotiations are focused on jointly launching a studio, in which Barris will be an equity partner. At ViacomCBS, the joint venture would be overseen by BET Networks President Scott Mills and David Nevins, Chief Creative Officer of CBS & Chairman And CEO of Showtime Networks, whose portfolio includes BET, I have learned.

Of course, those conversations will be extra complicated (and pricey) because Barris is currently in a huge overall deal with Netflix. But hey, it’s not impossible. He actually wasn’t finished with his ABC deal when he left the primetime network for the popular streaming platform. With this deal, it looks like he’s not only trying to expand his development executive role, he’s also leaping toward being named a whole-ass studio mogul.

When the news was announced this weekend, Barris posted the article on his Instagram with a simple caption, “Here we go…

Should the deal go through, we won’t just have one Black person to cite when we talk about a major studio owner—that one Black person currently being Tyler Perry. That said, a Black woman gotta be next, right? Maybe Issa Rae or Ava DuVernay? That rhymes—which leads us to another proposal: Shonda Rhimes!


Barris, who created his own small-screen cinematic universe (which I refer to as the KBCU), has one more -Ish TV spinoff coming on ABC called Old-ish, his Netflix debut #BlackAF has been renewed for a second season and he’s the executive producer on the upcoming Kid Cudi adult animated music series Entergalactic. But, he’s not just sticking to the small screen; he has feature film credits such as Girls Trip, Shaft, and The Witches, plus he’ll be making his directorial debut with the upcoming Richard Pryor biopic.

If we add “studio co-owner” to Barris’ many credits…well, that’s going to be a lot more money, power and an even more massive shoe collection.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.



Honestly shout out to black mediocrity failing upwards