‘Grown-ish’: Yara Shahidi and Marcus Scribner Talk Closing The Chapter On The Johnson Family & Sticking The Landing With Series Finale

Yara Shahidi and Marcus Scribner first joined the Johnson family a decade ago.

The then-child actors landed starring roles in ABC’s black-ish as Zoey and Andre Johnson, the eldest two of five precocious siblings with big ambitions. Little did they know, 10 years later, they’d finally be bidding farewell to these characters — on an entirely different show.

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Freeform’s grown-ish wrapped its sixth and final season on Wednesday, closing that chapter for Shahidi and Scribner.

“It feels crazy. It feels odd. It’s been 10 years of doing the same thing for so long and growing with the character,” Scribner told Deadline. “You create a family and you create a lot of friends and have to say goodbye to all that, but I’m thankful that we get to send off the show with an actual little bowtie to end it all off.”

The opportunity to end a show with a proper finale is considered a luxury nowadays, when plenty of series are unceremoniously canceled during hiatus or, worse, mid-season. When that happens, audiences have to settle for a final episode that was likely setting up for even more story, leaving them with plenty of unanswered questions. It leaves the cast and crew without closure, too.

Instead, the grown-ish finale celebrated everything it’s brought to the table over the past six seasons with a heavy dose of nostalgia, appearances from previous cast members, and happy endings for all.

“I think all of that came into focus when we were wrapping up the show, especially because Marcus has anchored the show for the last two seasons. I just remember looking at him on set. And I was like, ‘Wow, this feels like when we just started black-ish,” Shahidi said. “I truly grew up with him…it was a range of emotions.”

grown-ish premiered in 2018 as a spinoff to document Shahidi’s Zoey as she navigated college life. It was her first time leading a show, and she eventually also became an executive producer. Not to mention, Shahidi was on the same path as her character, earning a degree from Harvard while she also led the show.

“I think in so many ways, it really launched the next phase of my — I wouldn’t even say career, my life,” she said. “What I’ve always been most excited by, and I feel like grown-ish at its best just had such a cool ensemble to lean into stories [and] be able to authentically tell stories from so many different perspectives, communities, etc. So the fact that I feel like our audience was able to always have at least one character they could relate to, whether it be their familial background, whether it be the difficulties of growing up. I love that that maintained throughout the show.”

At a certain point, Shahidi explains, that became intentional. When she handed things off to Scribner, it opened the door to a whole new subset of stories about college life. Between the two of them, their characters really got to do it all in college.

In many ways, the finale sets up for the next phase of their lives, even if audiences may not get to see it unfold on screen. Junior forgoes his graduation party to put out a fire for his boss’ client, highlighting how much he’s matured as he’s got serious about being a talent manager. But, the good news is, his friends found a way to bring the party to him.

“I feel like, of everyone, Junior would make sure that he stays in contact with his friends,” Scribner mused. “I feel like there’s always that person who’s like, ‘Yeah, let’s stay in contact,’ and you’d like never see them ever again. I think Junior’s the opposite of that.”

Meanwhile, Zoey is a married woman! She and Aaron (Trevor Jackson) took the leap and tied the knot during Junior’s epic graduation party. Any fans of grown-ish will know this has been a long time coming, and Zoey and Aaron’s happily ever after wasn’t always so assured.

“The actual wedding scene, I think, was surreal for a lot of people,” Shahidi said. “It felt natural because of the storyline, but I think it was pretty crazy for everybody to see this moment come to life after filming so many scenes of breaking up and making up.”

Both actors tell Deadline they felt ready to say goodbye to these characters, at least for now. But, perhaps there’s room to revisit them down the line.

Scribner, for one, would like to confirm “whether [Junior] hit rock bottom or if it was only up from there.”

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