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The Real Reason The Kids From #blackAF Look So Familiar

Kenya Barris just might be the most prolific comedy showrunner this side of Seth MacFarlane. After storming the airwaves with Black-ish, Mixed-ish, and Grown-ish, he's taken on a fourth sitcom, and the familiar cast has viewers sitting up and taking notice.

Under the purview of his $100 million Netflix deal, Barris is set to debut his latest comedic creation on the streamer on April 17 at 3 AM Eastern. Entitled #blackAF, the new series looks likely to be Barris' most unfiltered, autobiographical take yet.

#BlackAF is only eight episodes long, and follows a familiar Barris formula: a black father-of-six takes a deep dive into the nature of his relationship with his biracial wife and their atypical approach to parenting. From that examination, comedy emerges. The one wrinkle this time around is that Barris has cast off the veneer of fiction that mediated his actual life story from his last two successful series. This time, the powerful showrunner is going on all in on the autobiographical approach; the main character is named Kenya Barris, and he will be played by... Kenya Barris.

The make-up of Barris' on-screen family has some striking similarities to his real-life family as well. In reality, Barris is the father of six children with his now-ex-wife Rainbow Barris. Rainbow, a Los Angeles anesthesiologist, married Kenya back in 1999. (She's supposedly the inspiration for Tracee Ellis Ross' character from Black-ish, Rainbow "Bow" Johnson.) Rainbow and Kenya divorced just last year, so perhaps the raw approach to storytelling in #blackAF is Barris' way of processing.

While the #blackAF version of Kenya Barris remains married, he is still the father of six kids — and the actors cast to play these plum roles should be ringing a lot of bells.

Rashida Jones will play Barris' on-screen wife

Aside from Kenya himself, the rest of his on-screen family's names and faces have been changed to protect the innocent. Barris' wife on the show is named Joya, and she'll be played by the incomparable Rashida Jones (via Newsweek).

Jones should be a household name at this point for any fan of TV comedy. The 44-year-old daughter of music legend Quincy Jones had a memorable role as Karen Filippelli on NBC's The Office. Jones' Karen was one of the Stamford branch employees who made the trek over to Scranton after Dunder-Mifflin operations were consolidated on season 2. She spent most of the season dating office goofball Jim Halpert (John Krasinksi), up until the moment he realized he was still in love with Pam (Jenna Fischer).

After The Office, Jones moved to sibling NBC sitcom, Parks & Recreation. That series debuted in 2009 as part of the Peacock's "Must See TV" block of broad, single-camera comedies. Jones played nurse Anne Perkins on 106 episodes of the successful sitcom's 125-episode run. She also has the distinction of having dated (on screen) both of the show's Tier One Hollywood studs: Chris Pratt, who played Andy Dwyer, and Rob Lowe, the man behind Chris Traeger. Not bad for Pawnee, Indiana. 

Although much of Jones' TV career has been spent in comedy, she often plays a somewhat understated straight role opposite more outrageous characters — like Amy Pohler's zealous public servant Leslie Knope on Parks & Red. That's all set to change on #blackAF. Her character, Joya, is described by Newsweek as "flamboyant." She's a reformed lawyer, an aspiring author, and the family matriarch to boot. Sounds like Jones will have a lot more chances to show off her comedic chops this time around.

Iman Benson and Genneya Walton will play the oldest daughters of Kenya and Joya

In an interesting choice for the show's franchise, Barris' second oldest daughter, Drea, will serve as narrator. #blackAF is apparently structured as a documentary produced and directed by the teenage Drea, an NYU Film School aspirant. Her personality is described as moderate, in contrast to her parents, making her a natural choice to provide an effective window into the Barrises' lives.

The young actress tapped to stand behind the documentarian's camera is Iman Benson. She previously played the role of Tia Russell on ABC's failed Mike Epps-starrer Uncle Buck (via IMDb). Uncle Buck tanked in 2016, and Benson went on to land guest spots on Station 19 and Suits, as well as a 19-episode run on the Netflix original series Alexa & Katie. The role of Drea Barris is certainly her biggest break to date.

Drea's older sister, Chole, is already where Drea wants to be at the series' outset. Though currently enrolled in film school, Chole's heart isn't really in it. A potential source of tension between the sibs? We'll have to wait until April 17 to find out. 

The role of Chole Barris is played by Genneya Walton. Before getting cast on #blackAF, Walton did a guest spot on Criminal Minds, and is perhaps best known for playing Bryden Bandweth on Project MC2 (via IMDb). Aside from clashing with her father over her excessively nice boyfriend, Walton's Chloe apparently be sporting a purple hairdo when the #blackAF bows, so we all have that to look forward to.

Even the youngest members of the Barris clan look familiar

Just like Kenya's real-life family, his on-screen litter isn't exactly what you'd call sustainably sized. Drea and Chole have four younger siblings — Izzy, Papa, Kam and Brooklyn — and at least three of them will be played by a dedicated young actor with a familiar face.

Izzy Barris is third in the birth order, and possesses more than a dash of her father's sarcasm. According to Newsweek, we're likely to see her sporting her noise-canceling headphones around the Barris house more often than not. The role will be played by Scarlet Spencer, a familiar face around Netflix Studios; she cut her acting teeth on the Netflix original film Bright opposite Will Smith.

Papa Barris is described as sweet-natured and lovable. In the rough-and-tumble Barris clan, this earns him more than a bit of grief from his siblings. Playing this sensitive little flower will be actor Justin Claiborne, a veteran of another Kenya Barris project. He got his first big break in a bit part on Black-ish.

Next up in the batting order is Kam Barris, the hopelessly mischievous fifth-born child. He's earned a reputation among his siblings as a bit of a liar. Kam Barris will be played by the young and talented Ravi Cabot-Conyers, who may be familiar from previous roles in two feature films: Justine and Ode to Joy.

The role of baby Brooklyn Barris — the "only likable Barris" — will be played by Richard Gardenhire Jr. Although this is Gardenhire's first role in anything, we're happy to report that he is, in fact, adorable. 

With such an all-star cast lined up — and the man himself set to star for the first time in his own material – #blackAF may be the most exciting Kenya Barris project to date. Tune into Netflix on April 17, when all eight episodes of the series are set to drop.