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The Upshaws star Jermelle Simon wants Jerrod Carmichael to guest star

The Upshaws star Jermelle Simon wants Jerrod Carmichael to guest star

Jerrod Carmichael; Jermelle Simon
Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images; Netflix

Jermelle Simon and Kim Fields spoke to Out about part 5 of Netflix's The Upshaws.

We are in an unfortunate climate where Black-centered shows are becoming a dime a dozen, consistently getting axed and barely making it to the second season.

TV series like Rap Sh*t, Sweet Life, The Wonder Years, South Side, and many more well-fleshed out stories have received unfortunate pink slips. We're often rewarded with shows that highlight our traumas and leave us in a box without much development, painting a narrative on how people "want" to see us.

However, there's one show on television that breaks all those norms and continues to give us great moments on screen. The Upshaws is a fun-filled series that blends heartfelt moments and mischievous antics. In the end, the show also reminds us that family, despite certain imperfections, always comes first.

Out contributor Ty Cole spoke with Kim Fields and Jermelle Simon about part five of The Upshaws, how this show continues to stand the test of time, and why Bennie's representation matters.

Out: What has been the best part about the success of The Upshaws?

Kim Fields: Everyone's response to the show has honestly been one of the greatest rewards ever. I even played around with creating a little trap song called "We Love How You Love Upshaws." We see it on social media when people take the time to do the backdrops and on TikTok with us and really map what they love and how it resonates and how it's funny and just how they wait for it and then they absorb it like a sponge.

Bernard is opening up his gym this season and you're no stranger to fitness. How will your journey with fitness shine through your character Bennie with this specific storyline?

Jermelle Simon: I think it's such an amazing thing that art imitates life so much when it comes down to Bernard and I. I've even had the opportunity to introduce my own line of fitness bands called JRambo bands. I was really able to incorporate my own life through this character and my love for fitness. I know what fitness can do to one's mind and just seeing people just proud of themselves is just like a priceless thing.

Fields: I also liked that it helped Bernard and Regina come together in a new way in the wake of her heart attack, that she's working out at the gym, that they have that as, you know, an extra layer to their already wonderful bond.

Social media adores Bennie time. What insights have you gained about the queer community through this portrayal of a queer character?

Simon: I'm very honored. It has helped me personally in so many ways for not only just the community, but also to find myself. I'm just so honored to not only showcase representation, but positive representation, because it could be because representation could just be a gay character on television and it doesn't necessarily have to be shown in such a great light. He's so multifaceted. Yes, he is gay, but it's not his entire identity. It's an important part, but he's also a father, a gym owner, and he's also really supportive of his family.

A lot of people are struggling to see themselves on television. I would like to think that my approach is masculine leaning and I say that because so many people come up to me to say and say, 'Thank you. I was able to see myself because I view myself as more of a masculine person.' They would say they saw more flamboyant characters growing up, which everyone needs representation.

Overall, I think I'm just honored, and I'm almost like I couldn't see myself really doing another role right now because it's so fulfilling to me to again, be able to help myself, because a lot of it was therapeutic for me and it'll never get old. People, especially younger Black boys, boys in general, have a special space in my heart, telling me that they see themselves or that I made it easier for them to come out to their family or they feel free or liberated or whatever it is. I don't know if another role for me right now would have done that.

So many guest stars have come through the series. Are there any particular ones you want to see come in addition to those we may see in Part 5?

Simon: I would say there's someone for part six I would love to see on the series! I've seen this enough on Twitter, but I think a storyline for Jerrod Carmichael with Bernard would be very interesting. The Carmichael Show is one of my favorite shows so that would make sense.

Despite the unfortunate trend of cancelations for Black-led shows, how does The Upshaws stand out as a beacon of representation and resilience in the industry?

Fields: We're not new to this, we're true to this. We are true to this game of making The Upshaws and making it what Mike Epps set out to create when he first had the idea, then shared it with Wanda Sykes, and then how it expanded from there. We are true to the funny, being very grounded and relatable, the nod, to the throwback, and every aspect that we first set out to be, and we remain true to that. We put in the work that it takes to be as successful as possible.

The Upshaws is now streaming on Netflix.

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