Monday, September 20, 2021

‘Marlon’ Star Diallo Riddle on Hollywood Giving Black Folks ‘Something To Tune-In For’ [EUR Exclusive]

 

*EMMY and WGA nominated writer and actor, producer Diallo Riddle was named one of Variety’s Top 10 Scribes to Watch, and he has proven to be one of the most multi-faceted talents in the industry today.

Diallo got his start in television as a writer on “Chocolate News” for Comedy Central. He went on to write and perform for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (2008-2012), including the segments Slow Jam the News featuring Barack Obama, and the first three editions of A History of Rap with Fallon and Justin Timberlake.

Riddle currently stars on NBC’s smash hit series “Marlon,” which kicked off its second season June 14. Loosely inspired by the real life of star Marlon Wayans, the family comedy centers on a loving (but immature) father committed to co-parenting his two kids with his very-together ex-wife. Diallo returns as fan-favorite Stevie, Marlon’s overly intelligent, yet oblivious friend from college and confidant.

When EUR/Electronic Urban Report last caught up with Mr. Riddle, season two hadn’t been announced yet and he told us: “I would be surprised if we didn’t come back.”

So when you got the call that the show had been picked up for a second season…

“I was very shocked and happy and surprised ‘cause nothing is a given in this business,” Riddle said during our exclusive conversation. “So when you get a chance to do it, again, and the fact that we get to come back to a network as big as NBC, I was super excited,” he added, noting that the premiere episode is one “people are going to remember, for all the right reasons.”

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The episode explored a narrative ripped straight from the headlines. Marlon and Ashley (Essence Atkins) agree for their son Zack to be a spokesmodel for a kids athletic clothing line. Later on, they are shocked to discover that the photos they took contain a racist phrase on Zack’s shirt and are forced to pull the ad.

“Marlo, in particular, has a very specific POV on some of the things that are going on in the culture right now. We have at least two episodes that take on extremely timely things and I think that’s cool because that’s not something we got a chance to do the first season because we were still introducing you to the characters.”

In what ways will Stevie and Marlon’s dynamic be heightened this season?

“You will find out more about how their friendship formed. Before it was just said that they had met in college and Stevie had given Marlon the idea to become a social media star and through his success in doing that, he was able to afford the lifestyle that we’re seeing on this show. But we still don’t really know how they met and under what circumstances. We’re going to see the Stevie/Marlon origin story this season. I’m very excited for people to see that episode. There’s so much good stuff coming up.”

While acting in front of the camera keeps Diallo busy, he continues to flourish in his writing career. Diallo and his writing/producing partner Bashir Salahuddin wrote and produced the series “South Side,” about a rent to own business on the south side of Chicago. It was recently given a series order by Comedy Central.

Additionally, it was recently announced that IFC picked up to series “Sherman’s Showcase,” a scripted musical variety sketch comedy show created by Diallo and Salahuddin that will premiere in 2019. The 8-episode series has it all: music, comedy, games, and dancing.

“I’m so excited about our IFC show,” Diallo tells EUR. “It’s the first show that we’ve actually had the chance to shoot in Hollywood and the fact that it’s a sketch show based around music means that we get to pull people from all backgrounds. We get to merge the two things that brought Bashir together as collaborators, music, and comedy, and we get do to them in our own backyard using everybody from out of work friends who we’ve never been able to cast in one of our shows to the biggest names that we’ve worked with. I get a thrill everything I think about it.”

Grammy-winner John Legend serves as executive producer on the interactive series, which will have “original music” and “we’re going to be selling the music even before the show comes out,” Riddle enthused. He says IFC has been “an ideal partner in working on this.”

“They are building a portion of their network airtime around “Sherman’s Showcase” and there’s going to be a big push to reach out to the minority communities because a lot us have not had a whole lot of reasons to tune into IFC. I think Hollywood is waking up to the fact that black people and Latinos will tune in if you give us something to tune in for.”

“Sherman’s Showcase” will also stream on Hulu, “so you’ll be able to watch it anywhere in the world,” he added.

“And I’m excited that Netflix decided to pick up season one of Marlon because when you travel, sometimes you don’t always get on Amazon Prime so easy but Netflix is everywhere now and the fact that people in the U.K. can watch Marlon, people in Singapore can watch Marlon, Netflix India… people all across the globe are going to be able to see a positive depiction of a real black family that everybody can be proud of,” he states.

“The fact that we are tackling some timely subjects is a super-positive thing. A lot of these stories go international that involve black people and people in these other countries don’t always get to hear an authentic, African American perspective on it. That’s one of the greatest things about Marlon being on Netflix. He’s going to have the chance to let people know how many of us feel about a lot of things.”

Tune in to the new season of “Marlon” Wednesdays at 8/9c on NBC.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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