Interview with the cast of “Kenan” on NBC by Suzanne 12/9/22
This was a fun virtual press tour with NBC and Syfy shows. I really liked chatting with these actors. This is a pretty funny show. You should check it out if you haven’t already.
Mine are the first two questions, and the rest are from other journalists on the panel.
VIRTUAL PRESS TOUR
Don Johnson, Talent, “Rick Noble”
Dani Lane, Talent, “Aubrey Williams”
Dannah Lane, Talent, “Birdie Williams”
Kimrie Lewis, Talent, “Mika Caldwell”
Taylor Louderman, Talent, “Tami Greenlake”
Kenan Thompson, Talent, “Kenan Williams”
Chris Redd, Talent, “Gary Williams”
David Caspe, Executive Producer
Lisa Muse Bryant, Executive Producer
Kenny Smith, Executive Producer
Virtual via Zoom December 9, 2021
© 2021 NBCUniversal, Inc. All rights reserved.
MATTHEW LIFSON: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to NBC Universal’s scripted press day. I’m Matt Lifson with the corporate communications team, and I’ll be your virtual mic runner for the day. After my quick housekeeping spiel here, I will just be the voice behind the curtain. But I wanted to first put a face to that voice for those of you that don’t already know me. And with that, we’ll get things rolling in just a few minutes with NBC’s “Kenan.” So hang tight.
LESLIE SCHWARTZ: Hi. I’m Leslie Schwartz, here to introduce our first panel of the day “Kenan.” “Kenan” follows the life of busy, single dad Kenan Williams, who is juggling a high profile job as host of Atlanta morning show “Wake Up with Kenan.” He’s also raising two adorable preteen daughters, Aubrey and Birdie. As Kenan moves on from the loss of his wife a year earlier, his live in father in law Rick, his brother Gary, and his colorful coworkers all have strong opinions on the best way for him to live his life. A special holiday episode of “Kenan” will air Wednesday, December 15, at 8:30 on NBC before the second season begins Monday, January 3rd, with back to back episodes at 8 o’clock. Here’s a clip from the Season 2 premiere. (Clip shown.) In the top row are Don Johnson, Chris Redd, and Dani Lane and Dannah Lane. In the second row are Kimrie Lewis, Kenan Thompson, and Taylor Louderman. In the bottom row are executive producers David Caspe, Kenny Smith, and Lisa Muse Bryant. We are now ready for your questions.
MATTHEW LIFSON: Thank you, Leslie, and welcome to our panelists.
SUZANNE: Good morning, everyone. My question’s for Don. You’ve had such a great, long career. What’s changed the most about TV since you started back in the 1970s?
DON JOHNSON: I’m going to go with the money. No. I think it’s just gotten smarter and better and more inclusive and diverse and spicy, you know? I’m into television. I think television is the– I think it’s the greatest thing we have in America.
SUZANNE: Kenan and Chris, you guys are both so busy with this show and “SNL” and other projects you’ve got going on. What do you do to keep it straight and have a real life on top of all that?
KENAN THOMPSON: A lot of sleeping sitting up in chairs, you know? Catch naps when you can find it. But I don’t know. You take it day by day, I think. You know, the sun comes up. We get up and do stuff. And the sun goes down, try to get some rest, basically. What happens in between, hopefully there’s a lot of love surrounded in it and, you know, taking care of our individual pursuit in our lives. For me, it’s my home life and family and my wife and stuff like that, but for everybody, it’s a different version of that. So, it takes a lot of dedication to be an actor, and it’s a long road to get up to a point where you can audition for a network sitcom even. And the amount of dedication it takes, I think our family members know that and understand that and help us with that sacrifice of our time and just help us offset that with open arms whenever we do come around. So that’s the beauty of not worrying about being busy necessarily, because when I do have a moment, I go get best moments of my life. So…
CHRIS REDD: (Unintelligible.) I’m having a whole lot of fun (Panelists speaking simultaneously.) I mean, I just have a fire in me and I box every day. So, I fight a grown man. That keeps me humble. Humble is like a punch to the gut real quick.
TAYLOR LOUDERMAN: I never, never heard you guys complain ever, which is so admirable.
KENAN THOMPSON: You hear that? We don’t never complain. You hear that?
CHRIS REDD: Never.
KENAN THOMPSON: I’m tired.
CHRIS REDD: But I will roast you, though. I will roast you, but I won’t complain.
QUESTION: Hi, guys. Thanks for talking to us today. I’m just wondering if you could maybe tease a bit about what you’re most excited for fans to see this season.
KENAN THOMPSON: Any one of us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE PANELIST: Kenan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PANELIST: Kenan, yeah. (Panelists laughing.)
KENAN THOMPSON: I would say I’m most excited for fans to see the comedy. I mean, we definitely get the chance to explore our characters now that we’re done explaining the show. So, it’s just all about finding those funny moments like we just saw on the dance floor, you know? So, I’m very excited about all of the comedy really coming forward and all of our beautifully talented cast being able to perform that for you.
CHRIS REDD: And I’m excited for everything Kenan just said and just how we dive into relationships more this season and how that just everybody’s personality and their character is just defined a lot more in this season and it’s just really nice to see.
DAVID CASPE: I’m excited for the money because we don’t get paid until each of our episodes airs. So, once it airs, the check comes. So, it’s like that’s sort of, this season, my thing, you know.
KENAN THOMPSON: That’s David Caspe, everybody. (Panelists speaking simultaneously.)
CHRIS REDD: You think he’s in a house, but he is in a closet.
DAVID CASPE: Yeah. This is tiny. I’m going through a pretty tough divorce right now, so this is all I got, was this corner. I just got this corner. (Panelists speaking simultaneously.)
DAVID CASPE: We’re very happy. I’m just kidding.
KIMRIE LEWIS: But, yes, the money also.
KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah. (Panelists speaking simultaneously.)
DAVID CASPE: Yeah, sure.
MATTHEW LIFSON: Our next question is from Bobby Jones and Jay Bobbin is on deck.
CHRIS REDD: Bobby Jones and Jay Bobbin? Oh, that’s crazy. It’s the same person.
QUESTION: We’re starting a musical group after this.
KENAN THOMPSON: Oh, great.
QUESTION: With many accolades that you have right now, “Kenan Plays Well with Others” is one of the ones that stands out in the top. How do you feel about this cast of people? Is this one of the funnest shows that you’ve worked on?
KENAN THOMPSON: Most definitely. I mean, I think we have done an amazing job bringing amazingly talented people together, and it’s just a reflection of how wonderful they are because they gelled almost overnight. And then we started in the middle of pandemic building a show together, which was, I guess, maybe a blessing and a curse because we were to ourselves, in our own little bubble, which gave us the chance to really get to know each other and
LADY IN BACKGROUND: Go, go, go, go, go.
KENAN THOMPSON: get to know (inaudible) works. And we’re just figuring it all out. You know what I’m saying? So, it that threw me off a little bit. But everything will be fine. But yeah, no. This is an amazing cast. Like, as you can see, we have an incredible time whenever we get together. All we do is laugh. And people have, you know, fun excursions in the background.
CHRIS REDD: “Go, go, go, go, go.” (Panelists speaking simultaneously.)
DANNAH LANE: Our dog is in the back, screaming.
KENAN THOMPSON: Get your mom. Get the dogs.
QUESTION: Thank you, guys. And don’t forget to buy mine and Jay’s mix tape after this, please.
CHRIS REDD: Actually, I got you would be, B.
QUESTION: Hi. Not the same person, by the way. Just want to clarify that. Hi, everybody. Don, my question is for you. Don, when we talk about your “Nash Bridges” movie recently, you said that if that led to more “Nash Bridges” installments, be it series or movies, you’d be able to do both jobs by virtue, probably, of what the schedules would be. Now that the “Nash Bridges” movie has aired, what kind of future is there there? Have you had those conversations yet?
DON JOHNSON: No. I just came out of a coma 12 hours ago, so I haven’t talking to anybody about anything. You know, I’m just kind of cruising along here, kind of seeing how everything plays out and stuff. I’m going to let the Phi Beta Kappas figure out how to work a schedule, if there’s going to be one between the two shows. But I have to tell you, it’s a pretty for me, doing “Kenan” is it’s the part of a lifetime for me and I love working with this cast. And Kenan and I are brothers. That’s just the way it is. And I love working with Kenny and Kimrie and the girls and Chris and, I mean, just everybody. This is a very, very special group of people and cast. And if the other thing works out, then we can do them both. That would be great. But I’m loving this right here.
QUESTION: This is for Taylor. Coming from theater where you were working really intensely, what is it like being on a sitcom? Is it just a breeze? And what surprised you about that whole world?
TAYLOR LOUDERMAN: Yeah. It’s so incredibly different. I think the main adjustment that I found was in theater, the audience tells me what’s funny or not very quickly. And in our on set, I don’t know. I rely on my cast mates to tell me, or our director, whatever. And I had to really learn to trust myself. I think everyone probably remembers me feeling very insecure when we started. But they lifted me up and made me feel comfortable really quickly, so
UNIDENTIFIED MALE PANELIST: That was a beast, yo.
KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah. I was about to say, if there was any insecurity, I couldn’t tell.
DON JOHNSON: Yeah. Yeah. It escaped me too.
KIMRIE LEWIS: And coming from theater, like, her work ethic, when you’re in that theater, like, a grind, you know, eight shows a week, there’s nothing Taylor’s never tired.
KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah. And it’s not just theater. It’s “Broadway,” you know.
DAVID CASPE: Yeah.
DON JOHNSON: Yeah.
KENAN THOMPSON: At this level.
TAYLOR LOUDERMAN: I certainly won’t complain about the schedule.
KENNY SMITH: And real quick, I just want people to know we took advantage of Taylor’s singing this year in two episodes. And my biggest fear is people won’t believe that it’s actually her singing — so amazing. The two episodes sound great.
KENAN THOMPSON: Ladies and gentlemen, Adelec Dazeem. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: All right. Hi. How’s everyone doing? Kenan, this question’s for you. How do you do it all, and how do you do it all so well? You portray all these numerous characters, different characters every weekend “SNL,” each with their own flavor, and then you come in here with a series and show a whole different side of yourself. So where did this superpower originate, and how do I get it?
KENAN THOMPSON: Thank you. I mean, it’s in the blood, so I’ll give you a couple drops and you’ll water (inaudible). No. I mean, I really appreciate. That’s beyond complimentary. We just go out there and focus and try to stay professional and work hard, but I’m also surrounded by incredible professionals and brilliant minds. Like, everyone on this panel, I cherish their opinions and points of views. And they actually have a vantage point that I don’t have, which is being able to watch what we’re doing, you know. Like, I can only see out and they can see the whole thing. So, it’s advantageous for me to be open to any notes from anybody, because that way, like, yes, I have my instincts, but the person that’s actually watching probably can give me some tips on what I can’t see. So, you know, I always definitely give it up to, you know, the people I work with and, you know, this great community of artists, whether it be writers or showrunners or actors or producers or our crew. Like, I just keep my ears open and listen. That’s one of the main jobs of an actor, is to listen, basically. So, yeah, I just try to lean on my own personal, like, what I think is funny and exciting to me, but as well as “is this rubbing people the wrong way” type.
TAYLOR LOUDERMAN: And we’re always happy to let him know.
KENAN THOMPSON: They not scared to tell me.
QUESTION: Let me know where I can pick up that blood, please.
KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, I think I’ll be at Del Frisco’s later if you’re in the
QUESTION: All right. I’ll be there. It’s a date. Thank you.
KENAN THOMPSON: Pleasure. (Silence.) Mm hmm. I think Michael Jordan is the GOAT.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PANELIST: Hmm, well. (Unintelligible) all day, but then there’s Kobe.
KENAN THOMPSON: Right. There is Kobe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE PANELIST: Kobe, Kobe.
QUESTION: I love the connection between Kenan and Mika. Talk about where things stand between them this season and where they might go.
KIMRIE LEWIS: Yeah. So, I think last season kind of left off on a cliff hanger, had a lot of folks on pins and needles what’s going to happen. And I think this season, you know, they continue to deepen their friendship. But I think that fans will be excited to see both of them kind of dipping into the dating world. You know, especially for Mika, we haven’t really seen that. She has that work life balance that she’s always trying to juggle. So, it was a lot of fun seeing both of them kind of struggle in their own ways with relationships this season. So, I’m looking forward to folks seeing that.
KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah. I’m on the strongness of our friendship. You know what I mean? That’s always been a well established thing from the first episodes, is she’s my rock and reflected in real life too. Like, throughout our entire shooting process, like, she’s been right by my side, right in step with comedy and jokes and just laughing through the day. Like, we have so much fun when we’re working, it doesn’t seem like work and it makes 12, 14 hours fly by like it’s nothing. So that, I think, is coming onto the on camera part of it as well like, how close we are and how close we’ve gotten in a very short amount of time. And our characters, yeah, are just exploring, you know, was it messy for us to get involved, whatever, after my wife passed, or are we better off friends? Or am I just being kind of just, like, timid or am I afraid or whatever? Or am I still hurt? It was a lot to explore. Now, we can just be like I think we can figure out as grown adults whether we want to get busy or not, but let’s just go about our lives, basically. (Panelists speaking simultaneously.)
KIMRIE LEWIS: Yeah. It can get complicated. Shout out to my exes, who I’ve worked with (inaudible). Y’all know who you are.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PANELIST: Thank you. Next. (Panelists speaking simultaneously.)
QUESTION: OK. Yeah. For Kenan, you were talking a little bit about shooting in a COVID bubble like that. What’s it like on the flip side? Because this was a time when a lot of people don’t like to do much flying, and yet you’re constantly getting on a plane, flying out to “SNL,” flying back and so forth. Do you get nervous by that? What’s it like? Does it make your life complicated or what?
KENAN THOMPSON: I mean, it’s tiresome because you’re masking the whole time and trying to stay safe and it’s always on your mind and stuff like that. But we’re in a heavy testing cycle, so that’s one good thing about going from job to job to job, is that I know my status all the time and that makes me feel a lot more at ease as far as everything is concerned. Plus, I’m balling,so it ain’t like I’m flying like everybody else. But at the same time
DAVID CASPE: Very relatable. Very relatable.
KENAN THOMPSON: You can all relate to that.
DAVID CASPE: You haven’t changed, man. You have not changed.
KENAN THOMPSON: Never change. You know what I’m saying? Still the same old humble Kenan, you know. But, yeah, I mean for safety reasons, I’ve only taken one or two commercials, basically. But we don’t need to talk about that. But as far as, since we’re talking about trying to stay safe, that’s why I’ve been burning through my savings like that so I can go from job to job in a safe manner. You know what I’m saying? But the work has to get done. Like, we’ve been building towards something, you know, outside of “SNL,” like, personally for years and years. Like, this is the third time around, the development cycle. And in this cycle, it’s been a couple of years before we got the first season on the air, even. So, it’s been a long road. And then when we did get the green light to shoot, it was like we were the first show to ever even get that consideration to come back and actually go to work. So, we all had this kind of “we got to make it happen” kind of attitude, you know. And that’s still going because we are still hunkered down and we do have protocols. And it was the same attitude going into Season 2, and we knocked it out of the park and it’s in the bag and it’s coming out. So
QUESTION: OK. Cool. Thanks.
KENAN THOMPSON: You’re welcome.
QUESTION: I had to come out the booth real quick. (Panelists laughing.)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE PANELIST: Yeah.
QUESTION: This question is for David. They always say a good plan, when it comes together, is amazing. So, was this everything that you expected when you wrote it up and more with the cast, the cast that you have together right now?
DAVID CASPE: I mean, beyond, you know? I will say I learned very early on in my career that if you just get truly funny people, it makes your job so much easier because they add like, everything you think you’re putting on a script that’s funny, they make funnier. And then a lot of, like, straight lines, it’s just, like, a word or something that you didn’t even realize was a joke. Like, you know, Kenan or Kimrie or Taylor or Chris or Don or whoever, the girls say it in such a funny way that there’s, like, added laughs where you thought was just like a serious line. So, yeah, beyond. The cast is so good that they just they make everything so much better. And then, also, the great Kenny Smith and Lisa Bryant and all our great writers, you know, just wrote such great stuff. So, I didn’t do that much, Bobby. I sort of sat back. If you get a bunch of funny, smart people together and let them do their thing, it’s quite easy. So that
KENAN THOMPSON: You haven’t changed, David. You haven’t changed.
DAVID CASPE: Thank you. Thank you. Now, my personal life has changed, as I’ve told you. I’m going through a pretty tough time.
KENAN THOMPSON: Easy, easy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PANELIST: He flies commercial. He flies commercial.
DAVID CASPE: Yes. Oh, my God. I’m driving everywhere now. Anyway. Actually, she got the car. But I had a lot of fun. No. I love everybody up here. And it was just a blast, and they’re so good. Anything else?
QUESTION: Kenny, what do you feel about it?
KENNY SMITH: What I do feel about the show? I feel like it’s amazing to get opportunity to come in in Season 2 with Lisa and to build on what they did in Season 1. It was a great opportunity in a long career to be a part of this and to work with Don and Kenan and Chris and meet Taylor and Kimrie. You don’t expect those things sometimes. Like, hey, this is you know, these guys are history. These guys are special. And I was honored to be a part of it.
QUESTION: There you go. Thank you, guys. And, Kenan, that was ultimate flex and some fresh off the Spirit Airlines trip from Miami, sitting up for four hours.
KENAN THOMPSON: I’ve been there, done that. I was doing that when it was called what was it? Value Jet. Remember Value Jet?
QUESTION: Value Jet. Oh, my God. Thank you, guys.
CHRIS REDD: Man, you sound like you need a massage, my guy.
QUESTION: You felt the pain.
KIMRIE LEWIS: Want to say real quick, our cast, we get a ton of credit, as we should. But I will also say that it starts on the page. Like, we wouldn’t be able to have these funny moments, these funny lines without such an incredible team of writers and executive producers. And I think it really shows this season, and I can’t wait for everybody to see it. But, you know, these guys don’t get enough credit. So, Lisa and Kenny and David even David.
DAVID CASPE: Hey.
KIMRIE LEWIS: and our entire writing team, like, they killing. We can’t wait for y’all to see it.
DON JOHNSON: I will second that notion. And I will also tell you that our Christmas episode, which, I think, is the first one up, it airs next Monday night, I believe. Or, no, next Wednesday night, correct?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PANELIST: Yeah.
DON JOHNSON: Yeah. That is not to be missed. That is a wonderful episode. And I don’t usually single out anything or anybody, but the writers, the directors, all the cast, everybody did such a great job. I’m excited. This will be about my fourth or fifth time seeing it. I’m excited to see it again. Sample that.
KENAN THOMPSON: Wow.
DON JOHNSON: See how nice these people are? They are so nice.
QUESTION: OK. Kenan, I’d like you to talk more about your work ethic. I like that you said that you don’t worry about being busy. You’ve built your long career since you were Dani and Dannah’s age. So, what gave you the work ethic at that young age? I actually was on the set of both “All That” and “Kenan & Kel” several times and saw that even as a kid, you took the business seriously. You had fun, but it was a job and you did it well. Where did you get that work ethic at such a young age?
KENAN THOMPSON: Well, I’ll tell you my story right after the girls tell theirs, because I think they’re the closest to the beginnings of that and it might be like a fresh perspective. You know, it might be interesting to hear what’s driving them. Because they’re beasts. You know, if you follow them on Instagram, you’ll see them taking photo shoots and doing posts and choreographing and all of that. So, I kind of want to ask them what has been motivating y’all so far? Because they work just as hard as we do.
DANNAH LANE: Actually, it’s all you guys. Seeing how y’all do and being around you really inspires us to keep going and get to where you guys are.
DANNAH LANE: It’s like this giant cast, amazing actors and mentors are always around us, showing us how to act, what emotions to bring out. So, it’s kind of you know.
KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah, I can totally relate. I can totally relate to that, because I had the same wonderment in my eyes when I first got to a real set with, you know, a person that I recognized. I think it was Emilio Estevez. You know what I’m saying? And I was like, yo, I know this guy from “Young Guns,” from, you know what was his cool one when they were in detention? What was that one?
KENNY SMITH: “Breakfast Club.”
KENAN THOMPSON: And it was just like, oh, wow. I’m standing next to a famous person and he’s, like, “looking back at my eyes” type thing. And that’s got to be such an amazing experience to just feel like, oh, snap. Now I get a chance to actually be in the mix of something that I’ve wanted to do. So, the drive, once I learned how hard the job was was just all about setting personal goals for what I wanted in my career basically and who I looked up to in trying to get to those levels basically. So, I can totally relate to what the girls are saying.
QUESTION: So, what are your personal goals now?
KENAN THOMPSON: God of the universe. What else?
DAVID CASPE: Sorry. To be God of the universe, you said?
KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah. I want to start that job.
DAVID CASPE: Oh. OK.
DON JOHNSON: Well, he’s going to audit. He’s been auditing for over a year, I mean.
KENAN THOMPSON: I have. So, I’ve
DAVID CASPE: But he hasn’t had a very good year. In your work, is this (unintelligible)?
KENAN THOMPSON: Well (Panelists speaking simultaneously.) This is a democratic universe. So, I’ll run for God of the universe.
DAVID CASPE: OK.
KIMRIE LEWIS: Get your résumé together.
KENAN THOMPSON: Yeah. I’ll get elected and serve my I think it’s an eight year term. Yeah, an eight year term. No. I just, you know, born to work the business. Trying to do the production company thing or, you know, put other people to work and stuff like that and just, you know, start owning our properties and all of that good talk. So as far as the acting trajectory, it’s just to stay in front of the cameras as long as, you know I don’t know, you know, whoever has done it their entire lives. To me, it’s always been a lifelong dedication. So hopefully we’ll have, you know, the “Kenan” reunion in 30 years and do another, like, five seasons or something. That would be so fun.
KIMRIE LEWIS: Then they can do a remake and Kevin Hart can play you.
KENAN THOMPSON: Exactly. And Todd Bridges can play Chris. That will be fun. That will make sense.
MATTHEW LIFSON: Due to time, we have time for final question and it comes from Francine Brokaw.
KENAN THOMPSON: Is she related to Tom?
DAVID CASPE: Yeah. Any relation?
KENAN THOMPSON: (Buzzer sound.)
DAVID CASPE: I think you’re muted.
KENAN THOMPSON: Oh, you can see her?
DAVID CASPE: No, I’m just guessing because I’m hearing nothing.
CHRIS REDD: Ah, that’s a solid guess. It was very confident.
DAVID CASPE: Thank you.
KENAN THOMPSON: Francine?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE PANELIST: Francine, can you hear us?
DON JOHNSON: Francine, we’re sorry if we, you know, paired you up with any other Brokaws.
KENAN THOMPSON: We didn’t mean it.
DON JOHNSON: Yeah.
DAVID CASPE: We think she stormed out of the Zoom when we asked if she was related to Tom Brokaw. (Laughter.)
KENAN THOMPSON: Just put it in the chat and we’ll read it and we’ll answer it.
KIMRIE LEWIS: Brokaw jokes.
DAVID CASPE: “Every day of my life since grade school.”
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PANELIST: “Brokaw.”
QUESTION: We’ll move on for the final question.
DAVID CASPE: Sorry, Francine.
DON JOHNSON: Man, we really pissed off Francine. Man.
QUESTION: Hi. Don, you’ve been doing this so long. I’m just curious. Even now, this many years later, do you still learn? Is there still something new to learn as you do a show? And if so, what have you learned about yourself or about, you know, acting, whatever?
DON JOHNSON: Well, I’ve learned that acting is something that you learn every day. And this cast, if you don’t get up early and get your act together, they will leave you in the dust. So, I make sure that I show up and show up on time or maybe a little early, and I watch very closely to what these brilliant, brilliant comedians and comediennes are doing. Because, man, I’m lucky to be a part this cast and part of this show. I’m just lucky to have a long career. I’m happy to be here today.
KENAN THOMPSON: He’s a happy person. We’re the luckies. Well, thank you shadow warriors for interviewing us today. We appreciate it. Always nice when we can get together and see each other. So, we appreciate you giving us an excuse to do that.
KIMRIE LEWIS: Yeah, we can’t wait for Season 2.
DON JOHNSON: Yeah. You’re going to go crazy. Kenny Smith and Lisa Bryant and David everybody’s killed it this year. It’s so much fun. We had fun last year and we quadrupled it this year. I’m thrilled for y’all to see it.
KENAN THOMPSON: Lisa, do you want to say something else?
DAVID CASPE: Say something.
LISA MUSE BRYANT: Yeah. Everybody check out “Kenan” Season 2. Revisit Season 1. Catch up on some of the loose ends they’re going to be tying up. Like Chris said, we’re diving deeper into characters and relationships and coming up with some amazing nuggets. And I was so privileged to join this group and so excited to have a chance to write for them and just have everybody just push their range to the limits. And it’s going to be so fun and surprisingly emotional and poignant. So, check it out for sure.
MATTHEW LIFSON: Thank you so much to all the panelists.
“Kenan” follows the life of busy single dad Kenan Williams (Kenan Thompson), who is juggling a high-profile job as host of Atlanta morning show “Wake Up With Kenan!” He’s also raising two adorable pre-teen daughters – the too smart Aubrey (Dani Lane) and the silly, unpredictable Birdie (Dannah Lane).
As Kenan moves on from the loss of his wife a year earlier, his live-in father-in-law Rick (Don Johnson), his brother/manager/roommate Gary (Chris Redd) and his colorful co-workers all have strong opinions on the best way for him to live his life.
Rick was a carefree sax player when his own daughter was young and missed out on a lot of her childhood. He’s trying to make up for lost time as a larger-than-life grandad despite his penchant for getting into trouble.
Gary has long been in his older brother’s shadow and he’s ready to branch out on his own – with dating, business development and potentially his own place.
Kenan excels at his job with the help of his driven executive producer, Mika (Kimrie Lewis), and despite his ambitious co-host, Tami (Taylor Louderman). Mika can be tightly wound, especially when Gary, as Kenan’s not-so-managerial manager, tries to insert himself. She’s a steady force and confidante to Kenan as he manages a demanding career and chaotic personal life.
Lorne Michaels, Kenan Thompson, Andrew Singer, David Caspe, Kenny Smith Jr., Lisa Muse Bryant and Bryan Tucker serve as executive producers. The series was created by Jackie Clarke and David Caspe.
“Kenan” is produced by Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, in association with Broadway Video.
Repertory Player, “Saturday Night Live”; Star / Executive Producer, “Kenan”
Thompson received two Emmy Award nominations in 2021 for performance – Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for “Kenan” and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for “SNL.” Thompson previously received two Emmy nominations in 2018 and 2020 in the supporting actor category for his work on “SNL.” Thompson received an Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics in 2018 for the “SNL” song “Come Back, Barack,” and received a nomination in the same category in 2017 for co-writing “Last Christmas” from the popular “Jingle Barack” “SNL” music video.
Thompson has made numerous contributions to “SNL” with his slew of hilarious impressions that include Rev. Al Sharpton, Charles Barkley, Steve Harvey and David Ortiz, and by playing memorable characters such as DJ Dynasty Handbag, the scathingly fierce co-host of “Deep House Dish,” “Weekend Update” correspondent Jean K. Jean, “Black Jeopardy” host Darnell Hayes and Diondre Cole, the disruptive singing talk show host on the wildly popular sketch “What Up With That.”
Thompson served as producer and judge alongside Chrissy Teigen, Jeff Foxworthy and Amanda Seales on NBC’s comedy competition series “Bring the Funny,” which debuted in 2019.
A native of Atlanta, Thompson made his television debut as a member of Nickelodeon’s all-kid sketch comedy series “All That.” Thompson now serves as an executive producer on Nickelodeon’s 2019 “All That” reboot. He and Kel Mitchell debuted on the spinoff “Kenan and Kel” in 1996. Thompson also had a recurring role on the WB’s “Felicity.”
His past projects include Netflix’s Adam Sandler film “Hubie Halloween,” starring opposite Samuel L. Jackson in “Snakes on a Plane,” “Wieners” and “The Magic of Belle Isle” with Morgan Freeman. Other film credits include “Fat Albert,” “D2: The Mighty Ducks,” “Good Burger,” “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle,” “Brother Nature, “Heavyweights,” “My Boss’s Daughter,” “Barbershop 2,” “Going in Style” and “They Came Together.”
Thompson showcased his voice talents as Bricklebaum in “The Grinch,” which made history as the #1 Christmas movie of all time. Thompson has also lent his voice to the animated films “Trolls World Tour,” “Wonder Park,” “The Smurfs,” “The Smurfs 2” and “Space Chimps,” the television series “Sit Down, Shut Up” and the Kobe Bryant/LeBron James Nike puppet campaign during the 2009 NBA playoffs. He was the voice of Austin “Impresario” Sullivan in the Hulu animated series “The Awesomes” and Riff in the film “Rock Dog.”
Upcoming projects include Paramount’s “Clifford the Big Red Dog” and Disney+’s “Home Sweet Home Alone.”
Repertory Player, “Saturday Night Live”; Gary Williams, “Kenan”
Redd is an actor, writer, rapper and stand-up comedian who performs across the country and has toured the United States and Europe with the Second City Touring Company. He received the Emmy Award in 2018 for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for the “SNL” song “Come Back, Barack.”
In 2019 Redd released his debut stand-up album, “But Here We Are.” Redd starred in the independent horror film “Scare Me” and can be seen in the comedy films “Vampires vs. the Bronx”, “Deep Murder,” “The House” and “A Futile and Stupid Gestures.”
He appeared in the 2016 film “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” and opposite Kathy Bates in the Netflix original comedy series “Disjointed.” Other TV roles include “Wet Hot American Summer,” NBC’s “Will & Grace,” Netflix’s “Love,” TV’ Land’s “Teachers,” ”Comedy Central’s “Detroiters” and “Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents.” Redd has also loaned his voice to many projects, including Netflix’s “Big Mouth,” Audible’s “64th Man” and Disney’s “Star vs. the Forces of Evil.” Additionally, Redd was featured as a 2016 Standup New Face at Just for Laughs in Montreal. Redd was previously a performer at Chicago’s Second City and iO Chicago.
Redd is the co-creator and will star in Peacock’s new scripted comedy series “Bust Down.”
Redd is from St. Louis, Mo., and his birthday is March 25.
Dani and Dannah Lane
Aubrey and Birdie Williams, “Kenan”
Dani and Dannah Lane star as sisters Aubrey and Birdie Williams on the NBC comedy “Kenan.”
The sisters, who recently appeared in NBC’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” saw their video “Call Jesus” go viral and accumulated 1.8 million views on YouTube. Their huge impact with audiences led to further success in performing and branding. The girls have appeared on talk shows such as “The Real” and “Today” and had a special segment on “The Steve Harvey Show” called “The Advice Sister.”
Dani and Dannah have grown an impressive social media following, with roughly 1.5 million followers on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. They are beyond humbled by their successes as their brand continues to grow exponentially, including opportunities in media and motivational workshops. Dani and Dannah are inspired to use their influence to be a voice for their fans and followers who are not too young to change the world.
Taylor Louderman plays Tami on the NBC comedy “Kenan.”
She made her Broadway debut originating the role of Campbell Davis in “Bring It On: The Musical” by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tom Kitt and Amanda Green. She went on to play Lauren in “Kinky Boots” on Broadway and originated the role of Regina George in Tina Fey’s “Mean Girls,” for which she received a 2018 Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.
Television credits include “The Loudest Voice,” “The Good Fight,” “Sunny Day,” “Evil,” “Peter Pan Live” and “High Maintenance.”
Louderman founded the non-profit Write Out Loud Project, a songwriting competition for young, new musical theater writers. She volunteers at Ozark Actors Theatre where she participated in her first professional show at 10 years old and writes youth musicals to support arts education.
Executive Producer, “Kenan”
David Caspe is executive producer on the NBC comedy “Kenan.”
Caspe grew up in San Francisco and Chicago. He spent most of his life pursuing visual art before moving to Los Angeles in 2007 to focus on writing.
In television, he created/executive produced “Happy Endings” and “Marry Me,” and co-created/executive produced “Black Monday,” “Champaign Ill.,” “Kenan” and the upcoming “Blockbuster.”
Lisa Muse Bryant
Executive Producer, “Kenan”
Lisa Muse Bryant is executive producer on season two of the NBC comedy “Kenan” and co-executive producer on Peacock’s “Field of Dreams.”
Muse Bryant has been a co-executive producer on “Blackish” for the past three seasons. In addition, she wrote the NBC music-driven comedy project “Dream,” starring Amber Riley. Additionally, she co-wrote the pilot “Princess of Philly” for HBO Max.
A proud mom of four, Muse Bryant also has experience in the kids space, and served as consulting producer on Marvel’s “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur,” concurrent with her “Blackish” responsibilities. Muse Bryant’s background also includes working as a news producer while spending four years at VOA Television, the international news agency in Washington, D.C.
Executive Producer, “Kenan”
Kenny Smith is an executive producer on the NBC comedy “Kenan.”
A native of Washington, D.C., Smith is a graduate of Hampton University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mass media and membership in three honor societies. Just out of college, he moved to Los Angeles where he got his start in the entertainment industry as a production assistant on the sitcom “Martin.” Two seasons later, Smith began his writing career on “The Jamie Foxx Show,” soon becoming co-producer. After completing four seasons on the show, he moved on to several UPN series, including “One on One” and its spin-off “Cuts,” where he served as co-executive producer.
Smith joined the staff of “The Game” in 2006, becoming executive producer in the show’s third season and showrunner in its sixth. For his work on “The Game,” he has been nominated twice for an NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series and has three nominations as a producer in the category Outstanding Comedy Series, winning the latter in 2013. After a nine-season series wrap of “The Game,” he moved on to ABC’s “Uncle Buck,” where he served as co-executive producer.
In 2016, Smith joined ABC’s “Black-ish” as co-executive producer and director, earning another NAACP Image Award as well as an Emmy and Golden Globe nomination. The following season while developing for Universal, he served as co-executive producer on NBC’s “Marlon.” Under Smith’s first overall deal, he returned to ABC Studios for season five of “Black-ish” as director, executive producer and co-showrunner.
Smith has written a pilot for TV Land in collaboration with Jamie Foxx, a pilot for BET starring Morris Chestnut and three additional pilots — two for NBCUniversal. Recently, he shot his comedy pilot “None of the Above” for Freeform.
Currently, he is working with UTV under his second overall deal and developing multiple projects of different genres.
Creator/Executive Producer, “Saturday Night Live”; Executive Producer, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”; Executive Producer, “Late Night with Seth Meyers”; Executive Producer, “Kenan”
Lorne Michaels is an award-winning producer and writer, best known as the creator and executive producer of “Saturday Night Live,” the most Emmy Award-nominated show in television history.
Born in Toronto in 1944, Michaels attended the University of Toronto and later began his television career in Canada and Los Angeles. He arrived in New York in 1975 to begin “SNL.”
Michaels’ television credits as an executive producer also include “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” “30 Rock,” “Portlandia” and “Kids in the Hall,” among others. His motion picture credits include “Three Amigos,” “Wayne’s World,” “Tommy Boy,” “Mean Girls,” and “MacGruber,” to name a few. His TV specials have featured Lily Tomlin, Steve Martin, the Rutles, Flip Wilson, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, Randy Newman, Neil Young, Simon and Garfunkel, and Adele. On Broadway, he produced and directed “Gilda Radner – Live From New York” and recently produced “Mean Girls,” the Tony-nominated Broadway musical based on the hit movie.
Michaels’ 94 Emmy nominations are the most ever for an individual. He received the 2004 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and in 2013 earned the rare honor of an individual Peabody Award. Michaels was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016, the nation’s highest civilian honor. He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2018. Michaels will receive a 2021 Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime artistic achievement.
Proofread and Edited by Brenda