The writers on Freeform’s “Grown-ish” knew that star Yara Shahidi would be thrilled when she got the call that her onscreen brother, Marcus Scribner, would be following her character Zoey to Cal U. It turns out, Shahidi had been petitioning for Scribner’s character, Junior, to join the series’ role call for some time.
“I don’t even know if I asked Marcus before I started pitching this,” Shahidi, who is also an executive producer on the series, joked in a recent interview with TheWrap. “I would talk to writers, I don’t know how often, where I would just kind of bring it up, especially approaching the end of the season. I’m like, ‘You know, as I’m thinking about next season…'”
After Junior dropped out of Howard University to take a gap year working for his dad, he’s now due to follow in Zoey’s footsteps to Cal U. While Zoey (Shahidi) is navigating post-graduation life, Junior will be giving the college experience one more try.
“My initial pitch was because we have that fourth camera where we break the fourth wall, Junior needs to watch Zoey graduate and look at the camera and say, ‘I never thought she’d make it.’ And then boom,” Shahidi said.
While it’s not exactly the transition between the siblings that Shahidi originally envisioned, the idea remains the same. “It felt like it left such a cool gateway to reintroduce him to a college experience as someone that’s been in the work world, whereas ‘Grown-ish’ started with a bunch of people that had never touched the adult world and were trying to maneuver their way,” she explained.
Eventually, Scribner was “casually” clued in on the idea, too. He told TheWrap that he thought after eight seasons of “Black-ish” he was ready to let go of Junior, but he found himself intrigued by the story the “Grown-ish” writers had drummed up.
“Honestly, I had had my fill of Junior. I love him as a character. I love him so much, but I was like, ‘I don’t know if I can handle more of this character,'” he said. “He’s very gullible. He’s a lot to step into each and every week.”
He continued, “What I love so much about what they were offering with the ‘Grown-ish’ setup is changing the trajectory of where the character was going and bringing an entirely fresh take on him. People are going to be very excited to see that Junior hasn’t really changed that much, but he’s growing in a way that I feel like a lot of people wouldn’t expect.”
Season 5 of “Grown-ish” debuts on Freeform Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT.