The ‘Black-ish’ actor returns with powerful indie ‘Farewell Amor’ — a moving meditation on migration, memory and family.
With seven years starring on hit sitcom Black-ish alongside a cast that includes the likes of Tracee Ellis Ross and Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner is something of an industry veteran — despite the fact that he’s still only just twenty years old. Having grown up on the small screen, Marcus has an understated but well-honed confidence in front of the camera and, thanks to this compelling presence, his roles have only continued to roll in.
It’s clear that we’ll be seeing a lot more of Marcus throughout the 2020s but, by his own admission, he’s much more comfortable watching Netflix than being surrounded by larger-than-life personalities on a red carpet. Rejecting the clout-chasing nature of the entertainment industry, he’s more into chasing powerful storylines and complex characters. Nowhere is this clearer than with his turn as DJ in the forthcoming Farewell Amor.
A hit at Sundance, the family drama from writer-director Ekwa Msangi follows an Angolan family as they adjust to life in the United States. Emotionally astute and tender, Farewell Amor is a necessary antidote to the dehumanising rhetoric and “hostile environment” currently directed towards migrants in the UK and beyond.
In anticipation of Farewell Amor’s release, we sit down with Marcus to learn more about his time on Black-ish, the power of representation and his forthcoming, Issa Rae-approved, project…
How would you describe your 2020 in one sentence?
2020 has been a very difficult year without a lot of devastating moments, but I’m hoping to come out the other end stronger than before.
What are three things you want to see change in 2021?
I’m excited to see our presidency change for one. I also can’t wait for the Covid-19 vaccines to be widely distributed and us get to work on eradicating the virus. Finally, I think I’d most like to see change for my brothers and sisters who are brutalised by authority every day. I want to see justice for those who have lost so much because of brutality from law enforcement.
You’re best known for Black-ish, which you first appeared in at the age of 14. How do you think growing up on set has impacted you as an individual?
I think it has definitely made me a smarter business person and a better actor. You grow up quickly in the industry and one of the positives is learning a lot about life if you pay attention.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your role on Black-ish throughout the years?
I’m most proud of giving so much to a character that displays young Black men in the light that we deserve to be shown in. Junior isn’t a nerd anymore, he isn’t a drug dealer, and he isn’t helpless or defenceless. He’s a young man trying to live life and find happiness just like everyone else. Representation is what makes me so proud of our show.
You’ve previously mentioned that you were shy when you were younger – is that still true? Has acting helped with that?
I’m definitely still a bit shy. I’d rather be in my home in bed watching Netflix than partying but acting has definitely helped me to find my confidence and my voice. It brought me out of my shell and gives me an opportunity to step into the shoes of others on the daily. I love every second of it.
Let’s talk Farewell Amor, what attracted you to the project?
Farewell Amor drew me because it brings so much hope and love to such a negative situation. The script itself was filled with so much love from Ekwa and it just got me inspired to get out there and dance and be free. I’m not big on rhythm so if it got me to believe in the healing power of dance then you know it’s doing something right.
Is there a common denominator in the scripts or roles that you’re drawn to?
I’ve definitely been fortunate enough and blessed to have worked on projects that display positive messages. I love stories that entertain and excite but I also feel it’s my job as a Black man and as an artist to portray my characters with dignity, strength, poise, and love. I’ve been lucky enough to take on roles with all of those qualities.
What kind of social impact do you think a film like Farewell Amor has?
I think it’ll give a voice to a marginalised group. And inspire the masses to be more compassionate and live life to the fullest.
Where do you see yourself heading longterm with your career?
I see myself making movies. I want to do a superhero movie. Growing up I loved watching the static shock cartoon so I would love to be a part of that project. I also hope to keep telling stories with my production company that resonate with audiences and make people feel happy.
Your 21st birthday is coming up next month – what have you got planned to celebrate?
Nothing much. But believe me, when this pandemic is over, I’m tearing up the streets. Gotta go big or go home!
What’s next for you?
Producing, writing, acting. I want to do it all. I’ve got projects in the works with Issa Rae’s production company, ColorCreative, and I’m currently working on adapting a novel that I’m excited to share with the world along with countless other projects. I’m hyped to take it all on and see what we can achieve.
‘Farewell Amor’ is available in UK cinemas and on VOD from 18 December.
15 December 2020