As author Oscar Wilde once said: “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” Producer Kenya Barris must have had that idea in mind when he created his Netflix show #BlackAF. Just like Barris’ Emmy award-winning ABC show Black-ish, #BlackAF is based on Barris’ own life.
The difference between the two shows, however, is that #BlackAF is a much more accurate representation of Barris’ life. #BlackAF not only stars Kenya Barris playing as himself, his character is also a rich TV producer who lives with his wife and six children who range from college-age to toddler, just like Barris’ real-life family. Even so, there are still a few key differences, particularly with Barris’ wife.
On #BlackAF, actress Rashida Jones plays Barris’ wife Joya, a lawyer who put her career on hold to raise her six children. Having six children and being biracial are the only things that Joya and Kenya Barris’ real-life wife, Dr. Rainbow Barris, have in common. “The wife character is not so much based upon my kids’ mom other than her being biracial. I really took a different approach with [the wife character] this time—I wanted her to be a little bit more militant and a little more zany,” said Barris.
Kenya Barris’ actual wife, Dr. Rainbow Barris, actually has much more in common with Dr. Rainbow Johnson, the character played by actress Tracee Ellis-Ross on Black-ish. Besides sharing the same name, they are both biracial and are both anesthesiologists.
Kenya and Dr. Rainbow Barris married in 1999, though Kenya filed for divorce in 2019. Kenya and Dr. Rainbow have two adult children, Kaleigh and Leyah, and they agreed to split custody of their four other children; Lola, Beau, Kass and Bronx, who all range between the ages of 14 to 3-years-old. Although they may be divorcing, Kenya and Dr. Rainbow are apparently still close, as Kenya wished her a happy birthday on Instagram only a few days after filing for divorce, calling Dr. Rainbow his “forever friend.”