Family is everything, but so are Saturdays spent at the skating rink!
A new Disney Channel coming-of-age comedy, Saturdays, explores the life of 14-year-old Paris Johnson, along with her closest family and friends, while also honing in on the skate culture that is still so relevant to the community.
“Paris is big-hearted, an extrovert, and a lot in a positive way,” series lead Danielle Jalade told Shadow and Act of her character.
Furthermore, her castmates and besties on the show Daria Johns and Peyton Basnight shed light on the sisterhood that is reflected throughout the series.
“It’s important to see sisterhood,” said Johns. “So young Black girls have a chance to understand, ‘Hey, we’re here for each other.’ This is how we love each other. We express our love, [and]how we communicate with one another, and it helps you see Black love and Black friendship as well.”
Basnight added, “I really hope that this brings them so much joy and happiness as they watch the show come to life. And I really hope it inspires the generation, all of them, truthfully– that they can have representation now for the African American community and so many other minorities and for everyone in general. I really hope that they get inspired.”
In terms of inspiration, executive producer Marsai Martin spoke about how some of her own family experiences were displayed in the show.
“I come from a very supportive family, supportive parents as well, which their style of parenting has always been helping to guide you, but not be you,” said Martin. “But more of learning from your mistakes and only here to guide you if you need anything, but at the same time joking around and not hovering over their children and I think that’s really what we wanted to show here– something that felt very natural, especially in a Black family household, but everyone can relate to it in some way.”
The parents of Paris Johnson and her brother, London Johnson, just so happen to be sitcom royalty thanks to their iconic roles on fan favorites like Girlfriends and Smart Guy.
Because of that, Golden Brooks and Omar Gooding aren’t your average television parents.
“He’s the fun, loving dad,” said Gooding of Cal Johnson. “He’s kind of level-headed… there’s an episode where Deb (Golden Brooks) and Paris have an issue and she’s being a little overbearing, wanting to be in her daughter’s life and it’s Cal who steps in and says, ‘Baby, cut your mom some slack.'”
For Brooks, the representation that her character brings is more than just fulfilling…it’s necessary.
“Saturdays represents fun. It represents skate culture, Chicago culture, but above all, it’s about Cal and Deb and how much we love these kids,” she explained. “We do all the zany, fun stuff, but at the backdrop of it all is the love and support we have for [the children].”
Jermaine Harris (London Johnson) echoes the same sentiment but sheds light on why coming-of-age stories like those being shared throughout the Saturdays episodes capture a feeling that is all too familiar.
“London Johnson has taught me that time is of the essence, but so is the time you spend with people,” said Harris. “He’s a character that just loves spending time with his best friend, Derek, who Tim [Johnson Jr.] plays in the show. And they spend a lot of time together in the lab where they make music and just chill, but also, he spends a lot of time with his sister Paris, whether that be getting into some wild adventure, and ith his parents. It reminds me of how much time I spent with my family and my friends growing up and how I appreciated that time.”
Not only is he best friends with Johnson’s character on-screen, but the brotherhood is actually art imitating life.
“It’s so important to have somebody who has your back, you know, and London and Derek, they’ve got each other’s back. They love each other, but also, we’ve been friends for many years, this is my brother right here,” Johnson said of Harris. “So it’s like, it kind of reflects that relationship.”
Saturdays airs every Friday on Disney Channel, with episodes available for streaming on Disney+ the following day.