Miles Brown talks BLACK-ISH, family bonding, and Michael Jackson
Interviewing Miles Brown is always a highlight – the charming young actor (dancer/rapper/basketball player) is as excited to talk BLACK-ISH as he is to quiz me about Michael Jackson songs; he’s quick with a story and clearly loves his TV family like they were his own. He’s come to think of them as his home away from home, telling me “It’s just really crazy because I feel that we’re just a big family that is going through a bunch of family situations and there’s cameras just sort of filming us.”
After complimenting him on the connection he has with his twin Marsai Martin’s Diane, I asked about how they started that chemistry, and Miles mentioned that at their audition, “they just called us both in together because the people who were doing the auditions just saw that we were having so much fun [with her iPad]….I just sat next to Marsai so it was the biggest coincidence ever.”
And he promises big things are coming for season 3 if you keep watching – teasing, “Oh! Oh! We have a new family member coming in!”
Read the full interview with Miles below for a look into working with the cast, cameos you should look out for, what’s coming next, and the opportunity he took to quiz me on my Michael Jackson knowledge (…..it did not go well….)!
What’s it like to be a part of that, to be in this couple seasons in now? You’re really grooving right now. What’s that like to be a part of?
It’s just really crazy because I feel that we’re just a big family that is going through a bunch of family situations and there’s cameras just sort of filming us. That’s kind of how we try to think of it because the situations that we’re all in a lot of families go through. I feel sometimes like the situations that my family, my actual family go through, I check behind my back and stuff and see if there’s cameras if there’re just filming me and that’s where they’re getting the ideas from or anything, but no, it’s just a really cool, really fun show to be on. We’re also like a real family and it’s just everybody has this love and having a really big chemistry.
You can tell. If the family wasn’t as close off screen as they are on screen, I don’t think it would work as well, but you can tell you really like each other.
[laughs] Yeah. We go to a bunch of places with each other. We go to a bunch of places with each other even though it’s not mandatory. Even if we go to Orlando or we go to Disney World or we go to New York. I’ve been to a bunch of places with my BLACK-ISH family so we kind of just feel like we’re an actual family.
What is it about this show do you think that people are really responding to? What do you hear the most from fans? What do they say to you about why they love it?
They mostly say they just love it because it’s just relates so much to their family and their friends and just other people. Also, because it just doesn’t matter that we’re African American. Other families like Asian American or Latino or whatever type of people, but a lot of people just watch our show and they just keep saying it just keeps relating to them. They’re a family and sometimes they’re in the same situation I’m in just checking behind their backs and stuff to see if there’s cameras and stuff to see if that’s where they’re getting the ideas from so …
Jack and Diane are just the two sides of the same coin. I love how different, but how similar they are. I think that’s so fun. How much did you know each other going in? Had you known anybody before the show?
The only person I’ve actually talked to before the show was Anthony. I got to meet him at this concert and this is like three, four years ago. Anthony doesn’t remember, but we’re at this outdoor concert and I went up to him and I asked him for his picture and this was a long time ago and then I got to take a picture and everything.
Now on the actual audition day that was the actual day I met Marsai because they had not just auditions for Jack, they had auditions for Jack and Diane, both of them for the same audition so they called random boys and random girls and they just put them in one room and so me and Marsai were actually sitting next to each other waiting to get called and the reason why that I met her was because she was playing a game on her iPad and I recognized the game. I recognized her game, but then we just started talking and stuff like that and so they just called us both in together because the people who were doing the auditions just saw that we were having so much fun and there was like a hundred people there, but I just sat next to Marsai so it was the biggest coincidence ever so yeah.
What can you tease for us about what we’re going to see in upcoming episodes?
Let’s see. We have some cameos. I’m not sure if I’m able to say this yet. I can’t say this yet, but we do have cameos coming in so stay tuned. Tyra. Tyra Banks, she’s coming back. Those are the only cameos I can say, but we do have a lot more cameos and it’s really crazy. They’re really funny so … I’m not allowed to say, but just keep watching and then you’ll know for yourself.
That’s hard to get on these calls and have people ask you what’s coming or you want to tell everybody because you love it and you’re so excited.
Yeah, I know. Sometimes I just catch myself I’m about to say it but I’m like, “No, I can’t. Sorry.” There’s more mischief from Jack. I can say that. There’s more mischief.
Oh! Oh! We have a new family member coming in.
It has to be amazing working with some of the guest cast!
It’s crazy how I guess I admire them everyday they’re on set and I get to give them hugs and stuff like that. I feel it’s such a coincidence that … I’ve met Daveed before. I actually went to see his show in Hamilton and he taught me how to freestyle when we were on set. He taught me how to freestyle. It’s crazy that I’m a fan of all these guys and yeah …
Speaking of them teaching you how to freestyle, have you learned a lot working with people like Anthony and Tracee? What have you learned working with this cast?
Mostly from Anthony, how to do more improv and just express lines that are not on the scene. More to just have fun and enjoy it instead of just keep memorizing those lines and stuff. He’s teaching me that it will just come in one bunch and I’ll remember it. I think I’m actually kind of learning that from experience. He’s told me that but at the same time I’ve watched him do it, kind of forgotten a line and he just doesn’t stress about it too much and it just comes to him.
Tracee tells me about her childhood. About when she got to talk to Michael Jackson and stuff like that. I was so like … because everybody knows I’m like the biggest Michael Jackson fan. All these stories about her and her mom Diana Ross that they’re just best friends. She told me a story where Diana Ross, it was nighttime and she was calling Michael Jackson. She was talking to Michael Jackson so Tracee, she was my age or something so she was about to go to sleep and so Diana asked, “Does anybody want to talk to Michael?”
Tracee was like,” Yeah, sure I’ll do it.” [laughs] Then she tells him that her favorite part of one of his songs is when he says, “I was saved by the sound of Michael’s songs.” But it’s really, “Mama say mama sa mama coo sa.” Michael was like, “Oh yeah, about that … that would be really cool to say but that’s not the real line.” I was like, “Come on, you can’t have said that.”
What else do you have coming up besides BLACK-ISH? What else have you been working on?
I just partnered with the Junior NBA and we’re going to do charities, clinics and things like that. Then we’re going to do a bunch of … I’m part of the Junior NBA leadership counsel so every weekend I get to broadcast different games and get to interview different players and stuff like that’s really cool. Also, what me and Marsai are still filming GOLDIE & BEAR which is on Disney Junior and we actually play brother and sister on GOLDIE & BEAR and BLACK-ISH. We play Jack and Jill. My name is still Jack for some reason [laughs].
I’m also partnering up with a new telephone company called Circle and we’re going to head out to CES convention in Las Vegas. Circle is more about how they can program kid’s phones to be monitored by their parents. Turn off the phone by parents, also to add more cellular data. My family’s going on vacation but I don’t know where we’re going, we’re just trying to go somewhere fun. Then I’m trying to do something with Marvel. I want to be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Any character! I’m just like knocking on wood. Sarah Finn is the casting director so just trying to get out to her and just beg. I’m just begging her!!
Besides that just doing … oh and also I’m releasing a new rap album. My dad’s helping me put out my album. I’m also going to be featuring a bunch of my friends who are all from the same industry that I am. It’s going to be really fun and be continuing BLACK-ISH and more guest stars.
Are you still dancing?
Yes, I’m always dancing. I never stop dancing. Mr Baby Boogaloo and I just get to dance whenever I can. I just released a Cirque du Soleil Show in Las Vegas and it’s called One Drop and it’s a charity for cities and countries that have little water and are unfortunate and that don’t have that much water so all the donations went to people without water. We raise 6.5 million dollars for that. Right now I’m about to go see the Avatar Cirque du Soleil show, it’s called Toruk. I’m about to go see it and I’m really excited. Just trying to have fun though!
But what I really want to be when I grow up though is a NBA player. I’ve always wanted to be an NBA player when I grow up. I want to do dancing, acting, and I want to be an NBA player.
If you’re starting young, you’re putting your mind to it, I don’t see a reason why you can’t, right?
Yep. See look! Anthony, he don’t know. Anthony keeps telling me no!
Do you watch other TV shows? Are you watching the other ABC families or ABC comedies?
Yeah, I’m always watching, let’s see, THIS IS US. MODERN FAMILY, FRESH OFF THE BOAT. Oh DESIGNATED SURVIVOR.
Obviously! Who doesn’t watch DESIGNATED SURVIVOR? But I’m also watching SPONGE BOB and SANJAY AND CRAIG. SANJAY AND CRAIG is like my favorite TV show. I’m obviously watching NBA games. But that’s number one. SANJAY AND CRAIG is like my favorite TV. Me and my mom watch SANJAY AND CRAIG, and my dad, watch SANJAY AND CRAIG like everyday. I was watching it yesterday and cracking up like an egg.
Okay. Actually I have a question for you that I also do a bunch of celebrities and stuff like that, so I have a question. Can you name 5 Michael Jackson songs in 10 seconds, go!
Bad, Beat It, I’ll Follow You or something like that from the Free Willy Soundtrack, Remember the Time…
Time! Ahhhh no …
I was so close. I couldn’t remember the song from Free Willy.
It’s okay. A lot of people get three or four.
I got four.
You got four.
I’ll take it. Next time I’ll get five. I’ll be better at my 10 second rule here.
BLACK-ISH airs Wednesday nights at 9:30/8:30c on ABC.