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How Anthony Anderson is paying it forward

The "black-ish" star talks his partnership with State Farm and what to expect from the fourth season of the hit series.
Anthony Anderson Build Series
Anthony Anderson. Photo: Getty

“black-ish” is on its way back on October 3 — and according to star Anthony Anderson, the hit ABC series will be as timely as ever. “You talk about the show being timely and topical,” the 47-year-old says over the phone, “[but] sometimes we don’t plan it. It’s just [something] we wanted to do.”

We chatted with the Los Angeles native — who has partnered with State Farm in an effort to encourage others to get out and volunteer to help better the community — about the series’ Hamilton-inspired premiere, what to expect from the “Grown-ish” spin-off, and the significance of giving back, especially in today’s political climate.

Does giving back have a magnified significance to you as a black man?

If we don’t give back to our own community, who will? It starts within our community. [For me,] it started in the church with my brothers and my sister and my mom — going over to the church you have that elderly woman who lives by herself. You mow the lawn for her, you bring the mail in, you take her to the grocery store, you take her shopping and it just spreads from there. So I found myself growing up, just being a part of volunteer work.

Especially in the precarious political state we’re in, with recent disasters in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico — volunteering has the ability to bring people together.

What’s interesting is that President Jimmy Carter started Good Neighbor day. He wanted to bring attention to rebuilding our communities as a collective. You look at the times that we’re in today: the political climate, the disasters that are going on around our country and around the world. It's even more important today that we band together as a community and volunteer and help one another.

“black-ish” is always so topical, thematically. Are there any current issues like this that we can expect the series to face this season?

My character Dre wanted to get rid of Columbus day because Columbus is a bad person. He’s like, “Why are we celebrating somebody like that, but we don’t have anything that celebrates our community? [And] Independence day didn’t happen for everybody til Juneteenth. Shouldn’t that be our real Independence Day?” So Dre comes up with a campaign to get rid of Columbus Day and replace it with Juneteenth — it’s a musical episode, singing about everything black people were going through at that time.

What’s interesting is that In the state of California, a few weeks after we finished shooting [the premiere], they got rid of Columbus day and renamed it Indigenous Peoples Day. We had no idea about this whole Columbus Day thing. We didn’t plan it, it just so happened to coincide with [this] legislature.

Will the “Grown-ish” spin-off be as topical?

They’re going to be dealing with subject matter for young adults living on their own for the first time — the freedom that they have as these college students, dealing with sex, dealing with drugs, dealing with alcohol, dealing with newfound responsibility. Nobody is there to coddle them through that process. [It will cover] the realities of what we all went through in going to college, thinking we know everything now that we’re out of the house.

Because once you’re out of the house, you realize how much little you know.

Right. That’s daunting, like, “How am I going to survive?”

State Farm wants people to join them in giving back to local communities across the country. You can make a positive difference too by volunteering in your neighborhood. To learn more go to NeighborhoodofGood.com.