EXCLUSIVE: Kenya Barris On Who's Getting Cast For His Upcoming 'Wizard Of Oz' Re-Make

Kenya Barris has kept extremely busy since bringing Black-ish to a close. But one recently-announced project in particular has gotten fans talking and speculating about who will fill some pretty iconic shoes under his new vision.

ESSENCE caught up with Barris on Martha’s Vineyard during “Paramount on The Vineyard,” an event hosted by the entertainment network that connected entertainment industry tastemakers to preview and discuss new content from diverse creators.

Barris sat with Aisha Summers-Burke, General Manager & EVP at BET Studios, about his rise in the entertainment industry and the multitude of new projects he has coming down the pipeline in the remainder of 2022 and going into 2023 in the wake of his hit show Black-ish wrapping up after 8 ratings-leading seasons.

After teasing new Netflix projects like his animated series created in collaboration with Kid Cudi, ENTERGALACTIC, his live-action comedy film co-written with Jonah Hill and starring Eddie Murphy and Nia Long, You People, and even announcing that he’s penning and directing an updated twist on the 1998 Jim Carrey sci-fi dramedy The Truman Show, Barris opened up to ESSENCE about his upcoming reimagining of the classic tale of The Wizard Of Oz.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Barris will write and direct a fresh take on the fantasy musical, which will be produced through his Khalabo Ink Society banner for Warner Brothers. But fan interest and internet speculation has leaned more into who exactly will be cast as Dorothy and her chosen family along her journey to get back to where she came from while discovering who she is along the way.

Online fan-casting has already pegged either Yara Shahidi or Marsai Martin, each of Barris’ young Black-ish starlets, as the new Dorothy. But just who does the production mogul have his eye on to fill the famed ruby slippers?

“No one that you would think,” he told ESSENCE exclusively. “I know people feel like they know what we’re going to do, so I want to do something totally different.” However, Barris clarified that he isn’t interested in veering away from audience expectations simply to be contrarian.

“Not different for the sake of being different, but for really telling the story in a new, different way.”

No release date has yet been announced for Barris’ new Oz, but we can’t wait to see how and with whom this classic story will be told.

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