Yara Shadidi may be busy sprinkling black girl magic all over Hollywood with her spin off show Grownish and making boss moves like getting into Harvard with the help of honorary auntie Michelle Obama. But there’s plenty of black boy joy to be found over on the set of Blackish as well. 17-year-old Marcus Scribner plays “Junior” and recently sat down with the folks over at NYLON to talk working with an all-star cast and dropped some details about the humanitarian work he does off-set.
He shared that he actually has a lot in common with his compassionate and awkward character, though he’s a little less sensitive. In his downtime he does enjoy some of the same things as the eldest Johnson brother including comic books and video games. But there was almost a chance that Scribner may have never landed the role he’s been in since 14-years-old. Luckily, he beat out A.J. Anderson’s son who also auditioned for the role, which Scribner admitted at the time was a little intimidating:
“It was kinda funny ‘cause, when we first went in for the audition, Anthony made sure to come out and let everybody know that his son was auditioning. And he was like, ‘None of y’all have a good chance ’cause my son is auditioning for this role!’ And we were all super nervous, we were like, ‘Oh my god, we’re screwed.’ But I ended up getting the role and I talked to Nathan afterward, he’s a really cool guy… there are no hard feelings at all.”
We’re glad Scribner landed the part because for four seasons he has proven he can hold his own alongside comedy veterans like Tracee Ellis Ross, Jenifer Lewis and Laurence Fishburne. When it comes to taking notes from his co-stars, he says the best advice he’s received came from his onscreen grandfather:
“I think the best piece of advice I ever learned was from Laurence and it was to diversify and make sure that I’m doing different kinds of projects, not just sticking in one lane, and making sure that I really like the script. Because, if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you’re not going to make a good product.”
He mentions that he learns a little something from the entire cast with each episode:
“Also, just being around them, you learn so much just from their acting styles, and even just how they listen during the scenes. Absorbing information from them is just the coolest thing ever.”
Scribner isn’t just learning from his cast mates, he’s making moves of his own as well. He’s prepping to take the SATs as he starts his college application process. He’s also heavily involved in humanitarian work with the Sandals Foundation and Animal Tracks. He shares exactly what sparked his interest in changing the world:
“You never know where the next brilliant idea is gonna come from, and I think it was really my first trip through the Caribbean with the Sandals Foundation that really spurred that drive to continue to help people around the world. One of the schools that I visited, the school is literally operated out of a freight bin—you know, one of those giant cargo shipping things that you see on boats—and they were some of the most brilliant kids that I’ve ever met in my life.”
“I worked with Microsoft to get 13 Surface Pro computers shipped out there, visited a bunch of schools throughout the area—Turks and Caicos, Jamaica—and talked to some of the kids, went to an animal shelter, helped out over there.”
“Just making sure to do as much as possible to help the poor communities and people who have less than we do, I always think that’s very important.”
And at the very least, Scribner is influencing his audience one line at a time by being an integral part of a show that brings awareness to social issues such as racism and police violence. The California native shares that his pride outweighs any pressure that might be felt from story lines that often tackle serious issues:
“I feel like it’s actually quite the opposite—I feel pride in the show that we’ve created because people constantly come up to us and tell us that it’s made a difference in their lives, and I think that’s one of the main goals of acting. If you can entertain and make a difference in somebody’s life, I feel like you’ve done a successful job.”
You can read more about what’s up next for Blackish and what Scribner thinks is the rudest part of the Emmy’s here.