Netflix Show Features All-Black Writing Staff, Takes Police Profiling Head On

"Our first responsibility as an all-black writers room in this unique setting having this unique opportunity is to tell our story."

NBC Universal, Inc.

"Family Reunion" has one of Hollywood’s only all-black writing staffs.

At a time when the country is deeply engaged in conversations of justice and equity, the show creator spoke about how and why the family sitcom  took on the issue of young black boys being stopped by police. 

When Hollywood veteran Meg Deloatch was approached by Netflix to create a black family sitcom, she assembled an all black writing staff. 

"As much as I want to have a show that makes people laugh and feel good, I also had a responsibility also as well to explore some of the darker things that happen when you are a child of color," Deloatch said.

"Our first responsibility as an all-black writers room in this unique setting having this unique opportunity is to tell our story."

Many story lines in “Family Reunion” are  rooted in real and personal experiences, like moving back home to raise your kids near family, or being black and fair skinned.

"That was a behind the scenes kind of painful discussion, and 'Do we want to air our dirty laundry?' 'And do we want to put this out there?' Ultimately, we decided, 'Yes, we do. We want to tell our story our way.'"  

Staff writer Sa’rah Jones says it is rewarding to tell these stories in a show designed for families and children. 

"We need to show them that they're beautiful," Jones said. "That they're important. That their stories matter."

Deloatch, a mother to a 6-year-old, chose to end her first season with a story about young black kids being confronted by police--guns drawn. 

Body cam video from Grand Rapids police in August 2018 inspired the season finale. After reports of young teens in the area with a gun -- including one in a red shirt -- police surround and handcuff a three boys, including two 11-year-olds.

"It hurt me so badly," Deloatch said. "I went into work, and I turned it on in the writers' room, and we just--you know it wasn't about a story back then. We were just angry and venting."

Deloatch says she could not let go of how scared one of the boys sounded in the video.

The unarmed boys were eventually released.

Season One, Episode 10 deals with boys, who are being racially profiled and accused of breaking into their grandmother's house because they got locked out.

Said Deloatch, "In no way did I want to vilify an institution, but it's a conversation that I have to have one day with my little boy, or maybe not depending on how things go with this social revolution that we're in." 

While Hollywood and the country have made attempts at racial equity on screens and on the streets  in the past, Deloatch  says “this moment” feels “radically different.”

"The fact that the protests have been sustained as long as they have and that they are as diverse as they are and so full of young people, it really does feel different," Deloatch added. "And i feel very hopeful."

Family Reunion has been renewed for another season.

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