Most people know Judge Greg Mathis as a tough court judge who cuts no corners and gives little grace. But if you watch his new reality television series Mathis Family Matters, he’s a big teddy bear to his wife, children, and grandchildren. It’s a side to the judge the public has rarely seen. And a side of television he feels was missing, specifically for people of color to see true representations of themselves. Watch the full interview above and check out the highlights below.

In the show, Judge Mathis’ now-adult children are all in the same city for the first time in years.

It was his idea to have them migrate to LA, but if you let him tell it, they’ve overstayed their welcome, and he’s ready to get back to life with just his wife at home. But that doesn’t mean he wants them gone. While he yearns for quiet at home, he enjoys having his children close by, even if they no longer yearn for his fatherly advice.

Shadow and Act Unscripted spoke with the honorable Judge Mathis about what to expect from his family show and how he’s pushing forth a narrative of positive Black families and loving one another despite their differences.

He says reality television was a chance to showcase him as a family man

The world is now introduced to his four adult children – Jade, Amir, Greg Jr., and Camara – and his longtime wife, Linda. Linda is the one who truly runs the ship. Judge Mathis will admit that his words go on deaf ears. Social media users have been buzzing about seeing him be such a sap for his family, but it’s something he revels in.

“We want to be able to expose ourselves as a family of Black professionals who all have individual obstacles. And you’ll see those obstacles being played out. You’ll see them being resolved, and you’ll see them being addressed just like every ordinary American,” he told us. “And that’s what we’re trying to say, particularly to our community members. We face those obstacles, and we fight against them. And some we win, some we continue to struggle against. And that’s one of the reasons we came to television. Provide a positive image of a Black family, but also show our community who continue to struggle to uplift our families – a road map to do so.” 

His son Greg Jr. struggles with coming out publicly out of fear of rejection from his peers and colleagues. But the judge is pushing him to fight against it

In one touching scene, Judge Mathis is brought to tears when his son details his struggles of coming to terms with his sexuality out loud. He doesn’t want his son to suppress who is is and makes it his mission to support him both at home and out in the world.

In terms of being an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, Judge Mathis says it’s both his personal and professional duty. “I am a judge, and the extension of that word is justice. And so, I’ve been known all my life to fight against injustice,” he said firmly. “That’s what motivated me to go into politics and civil rights law. I fought for the African American community, of course, and I fought for all people of color. I even fought for white folks in the Appalachia white hood, the poorest in the country. And so that’s been part of who I am. I fight for equality for women. And now, this is the current struggle – to fight for equality and against injustice in the LGBTQ+ community and setting aside whatever our religious feelings or religious debate is on that subject, setting that aside and looking at it from the lens of love, justice, and equality, which is what Jesus really represented. And so, I’m glad to take on another struggle, particularly when it involves myself.”

More than anything, he’s happy to show communities of color that shaming loved ones because of their sexuality isn’t the way to go. Judge Mathis wants the world to see that not all Black families are homophobic

“I’m convinced that African-Americans – our community – is the most prejudiced against homosexuality, and it’s based on the interpretation of the Bible in reference to homosexuality,” he said. “And so, in that sense, I think it’s important, and quite frankly, the LGBTQ community plus at large, they believe and know that it’s our community. And so we’re creating a schism between the Black community and the LGBTQ+, because most folks are evolving in that area. Black folks are really slow to evolve into the love of the LGBTQ+ community and justice. And so I think we are reducing that.”

Mathis Family Matters airs every Sunday on E!. Episodes can also be streamed on Peacock.