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‘All American: Homecoming’ stars say attending HBCUs themselves inform their portrayals

Spinoff to ‘All American’ airing on The CW channel

By J’Brionne Helaire Managing editor
On March 11, 2022

NEW ORLEANS (March 11, 2022) -- Actor Peyton Smith, who stars as Damon on the “All American: Homecoming” series on The CW, said a black renaissance is under way in the entertainment industry.

The cast, including co-star Geffri Hightower as Simone, and program creator Nkechi Okoro Carroll expect to demonstrate that stories about African Americans can be profitable. The spinoff series of “All American” was released as a backdoor pilot in July 2021 and released Feb. 21.

“Black people are hot right now,” said Smith. “We’re in, like, a black renaissance.”

The show, a young-adult sports drama, takes place in the Atlanta University Center at the fictional Bringston University. It is meant to highlight the black experience at an HBUC, Carroll said.

Smith, who plays an elite college baseball player, and Hightower, who plays Simone, a young tennis hopeful from Beverly Hills, both said their time at HBCUs inform the portrayal of their characters.

Smith attended Florida A&M University while Hightower attended Clark Atlanta.

Smith said FAMU helped him find himself and opened different doors for him.

Hightower said she always was in touch with black excellence, but going to AN HBCU brought more awareness.

The actors agreed their biggest challenge was getting adjusted to their new schedule, and acclimating to the characters. They said they had to figure out the proper work-life balance.

Smith added, “I feel like acting is my form of protesting because I can reach more people.”

Carroll explained why the show is called “All American” when the cast is all-black. She said the title “translates into pursuing excellence in life and contributing to the country.”

Carroll said she wants the show to be impactful and shed more light to HBCUs. She added she wants the show to tackle activism in an unorthodox way by showing “black kids living their life and truth is their form of activism.”

To watch a trailer, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqdaPMnQxnA .

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