It’s a warm, seventy-degree-hugging afternoon in the city of Los Angeles, and Marcus Scribner is feeling pretty hype.
‘I got it, I got it’, he says when expelling the details about a recent project few can manage without a couple of scratches, much less an entirely new shape on the back of someone’s rear-end. Though not to worry, as ‘the mission was accomplished’ he tells me, and this parallel parking anecdote ends thoroughly successful, even if it meant being a few or so minutes late to our interview together.
His demeanor rich and bright and synchronized with the weather, Scribner’s got a leg of new characteristics to his name since stepping on as Andre Johnson, Jr. in ABC’s Black-ish. For one, he’s an avid drinker of pressed juice; a relatively new driver; and he’s on his way to getting real comfy at Sundance — or what he eagerly calls ‘Sunny-D’ — as a first-timer for theatrical drama, Farewell Amor.
Though, his voice still sounds like Junior, anyway.
Catching the actor on a recent Thursday, we spoke to Scribner on all things A to Z, starting with the big ‘D’.
There was a quote you said some time ago that growing up in LA, you never really go to places like Hollywood… Is this because of cases like that guy dumping diarrhea around the Hollywood Walk of Fame that sort of halt your visit?
[Laughs] So for me, growing up in LA, Hollywood is just like a small portion of the much larger picture. I think a lot of people who don’t come from LA when they think of it, they think of Hollywood; they think of movies and all these sorts of things. But I feel like LA is such an amazing diaspora of cultures and different people from around the world and all these cuisines and all these dope things you can do. I mean, we’ve got the water right here, we’ve got the amazing weather. You can go up to the mountains and get some snow if you want or go to the greater Northern California area. But there are so many things to do and Hollywood is such a small portion, and there’s nothing really appetizing about going to Hollywood unless there’s like a super cool restaurant, in my opinion. Especially in like the actual Hollywood area — like Hollywood Blvd, I’d never go down there.
Well, now you’re in Hollywood and really feeling the heat… Tell me about the one that made you into a household name with character Andre Johnson, Jr. Do you ever get nostalgic and wanna see ‘baby-u’, so you turn on an old episode?
Now that we’re doing like reruns and stuff, sometimes my grandma will send me pictures and be like, ‘Remember when you looked like this?’ And I’ll be looking like a pinhead and I’m like, ‘Thanks, Grandma.’ So, I feel like when I get nostalgic, I look more at the pictures my mom’s taken but every now and then whenever Black-ish just happens to be on TV because of reruns, I’m just like ‘Wow’. How much I’ve changed within that short span of years… So yeah, it’s definitely crazy to me and it’s crazy that it’s all been documented for public record.
Though the episode regarding this subject aired back in 2015, I wanna get your final current view on it… How do you feel about the casual usage of the ‘N-word’ within today’s society?
So, it’s definitely become commonplace within like modern rap culture, and hip hop; in general, it’s just kind of popular amongst a multitude of races and people of different backgrounds. And the N-word is used a lot within those songs and in the music, but I personally feel like it’s a word that was used to enslave my people, and rap culture is kind of a way of us taking it back and reclaiming ownership. So, I feel like it’s an — it’s an our word thing, like we’re able to pull it off. I feel like nobody should really say it because it does have such a violent history, but if anyone can, it’s us. So that’s my opinion on the topic.
Moving on, in addition to getting tears to be laughed out of from Black-ish, there’s a real heart-tugger you’re also slated to appear in with Farewell Amor?
Yes, yeah. I’m really excited. We just got announced that we’re going to Sundance with Farewell Amor, so yeah, super pumped to be there… It’s gonna be dope. Hopefully gonna pull off some skiing and some shredding, some gnar and some powder and whatever. But yeah, I’m excited for Farewell Amor. I went to New York, filmed it for around a month in Brooklyn, and we were actually up in the areas which was a super cool experience, and I had so much fun just living out there for a month which was a new unique time period for me. The movie’s about an Angolan diplomat who moves to the United States to support his family, and meanwhile, his family’s back in Angola recovering from the Civil War. Once he raises enough money, he brings them to the United States and the story basically kicks off with them learning how to reconnect and once again understand each other after eighteen years of separation. So definitely a very, very deep story. Our director [Ekwa Msangi] — first time director — it’s likely based off of her life story, so I’m excited to take it to Sundance and see what the people think and just show them some of my dramatic chops and they’re gonna be like, ‘Whoa, he’s pretty good.’ And I’ll be like, ‘Thank you.’ [laughs]
And you’ve also got The F**k-It List coming up?
Yeah [laughs]. That took a turn. The F**k-It List, that’s something I did with AwesomenessTV. It’s a pretty dope coming of age story about also reclaiming ownership of your life. It’s about these straight-A students who are getting into college and they’re very excited to be in college but realize that they’ve completely wasted their high school careers and done nothing but what their parents have told them. So, they create these fuck-it lists where they basically write down everything that they’ve wanted to do during that period of time, and they do it. And it kind of spreads across the nation and becomes a bit of a hit and a bit of a success, and so it’s them then learning to deal with that fame and that popularity. So, it’s a super dope coming of age story that I’m excited for everyone to see, and I’ve got all my boys up in there so it was a lot of fun to film. And on that set was the first time I ever genuinely drove. I drove a pickup truck, so I had to get my license for that movie.
What would be something on your real-life fuck-it list?
Heyyy man, you coming with the good questions. Okay, hawld up [pauses]. Man, I’m thinking — you know what I’ve always wanted to do, but I just don’t have the commitment, athleticism or endurance? I wanna like, try to start boxing; that just seems like such a fun sport. I play basketball and I used to play lacrosse, but boxing, that is just… I tried a few sessions a little bit ago — and Jesus Christ, I never got a better work out, first off. And also, my arms literally felt like gelatin. So, I feel like it’s definitely for me though because it was a lot of fun and I really liked the coordination and footwork that you have to have and the reaction time, and it’s very skill expressive. So, getting into that would be on my F-it list. But speaking of things that would just be F-it, F-it, probably trying to finish a 7×7 from In-N-Out.
Yeah, because you can put as many patties as you want on an In-N-Out cheeseburger and the most I’ve gone up to is a three-by-three. But one day, I’m gonna go full-stand; probably gonna be like ninety years old, one straw through the roof, ready to die, and I’m just gonna be like ‘I’m ordering a 7×7 Animal Style In-N-Out burger.’
Speaking of In-N-Out, do you honestly, truthfully, 100% like their fries?
Okay, alright, everybody settle down now. In-N-Out is literally my favorite spot on the planet, and I’m tired of people trash-talking their fries, okay. They’re real potatoes. Everybody likes GMO stuff nowadays; they’re like, ‘there’s no flavor’. But bro, go to like Ralphs and buy some frozen french fries and eat ‘em up, bro — if you want some GMO french fries. Or swoop by and just like pick up some other fresh, never frozen fast food location. I should be In-N-Out’s spokesperson, I’m not gonna lie to you. I love their Animal Style fries more than anything on the planet. I would literally bathe in Animal Style fries.
You love them because they’re covered in sauce and cheese and you can’t even taste the fries…
No! No. You take off the sauce, the cheese, and the grilled onions. You get extra crispy on the fries, and then you put a little salt on them, and they’re just straight HEAT. People are just — people are just brainwashed. But it’s okay, it’s okay. I’ll show you and lead the way.
Tell me about some of the stuff you’re doing in your free time, like hanging out with Frito-Lay?
Yeahhh, my homies over at Frito-Lay. So that was a Frito-Lay and Feed the Children event which I had a lot of fun with, and we actually provided a bunch of school supplies and food for underprivileged youth in the area I grew up in, within Crenshaw in Los Angeles. So that was an event that was super near and dear to my heart. We go to give out toothbrushes, pencils, backpacks — all those sorts of things just to get the kids ready for the school year. And Frito-Lay was launching these cool snackable little bags of chips where you could write like a little note from your parent, and we just kind of put an inspirational thing to brighten everybody’s day. So, I got a bunch of those Frito-Lay bags and I had my mom start sending those with me to set with inspirational notes just to get through the day. Really hard out here for a pimp. [laughs]
What were some of the inspirational notes your mom would write for you that were your favorite?
Uhh, probably some of her more advanced ones like, ‘You rock!’ Or, ‘I Love You’. Those intricate notes really helped me to see my potential and make me feel special [laughs]. But those two were probably my favorite. It’s nice to hear I love you every now and then, so who better than your own mother.
My last question for you: How about a New Year’s resolution for 2020?
Heyy, New Year’s resolutions. I haven’t even thought about that, the holiday season’s just zooming by [pauses]… But I think we’re just gonna take the Marcus Scribner brand to the top. My goal is to start producing and getting into some behind the camera work; so producing, directing, and a little bit of writing possibly. I’ve got a bunch of projects in development currently and I’m hoping to get those made soon, so that’s probably a 2020 New Year’s resolution. Get this production company off the ground and get some projects produced and made and started; and kind of help some fellow actors out and get into these projects as well. So that’s my 2020 resolution. Thank you for asking that question because now I actually have a resolution. I’m not very good at setting goals, I kind of just do things without thinking. I’m just like a ‘doer’. So thank you for making me step back, think about it, and now I have goals. So, there they are.