‘Black-ish’ star Marcus Scribner tells MTSU students to keep ‘chipping away’ at career plans

Feb 24, 2024 at 05:47 pm by WGNS

Award-winning actor Marcus Scribner is keynote speaker at MTSU's Black History Month program. (MTSU photo by James Cessna)

(MURFREESBORO) Award-winning screen actor Marcus Scribner from the syndicated comedies “Black-ish” and “Grown-ish” did what he does best — make people laugh. He was in the 'Boro Thursday (2/22/2024) night as a part of the celebration of Black History Month at MTSU. 

“I’m feelin’ good, feelin’ fresh,” joked 24-year-old Scribner, walking onto the stage inside MTSU’s James Union Building ballroom with his arms wide open to greet the crowd of mostly students who braved a cold evening drizzle to hear career insights from the fresh-faced rising actor and producer who could easily be mistaken for a Blue Raider student.


The rain didn’t dampen the spirits of audience members such as 19-year-old freshman Marcus Mallory from Knoxville, Tennessee.

“Marcus is so funny and enthusiastic, and he’s my favorite character on ‘black-ish,’” Mallory said, “and I wanted to support him.”

It's Hard Work

As Scribner steps into the next phase of his lifelong career in television and film, he shared some wit and wisdom in a conversation-style interview with Human Development and Family Sciences major Jaliyah Webb of Gallatin, Tennessee, and School of Journalism and Strategic Media student Jayden Blair from Nashville, Tennessee.

“I always tell people it’s a lot of hard work, a lot of chipping away,” said Scribner, who recently moved to New York City and started Scribner Productions. “You’ll put in a lot of work but have zero to show for it. It just takes that one lucky break and being at the right place at the right time.”

A Los Angeles native, Scribner started acting when he was 7. He didn’t get his “first big break” until age 13 when he joined the cast of “Black-ish” as Andre “Junior” Johnson for its inaugural season, starring alongside lead characters Anthony Anderson and Tracie Ellis Ross until it ended in 2022. His character segued into the fifth season of the spinoff “Grown-ish,” along with ‘Black-ish’ sibling Yara Shahidi that wraps up its final season this year and.

“For me, (acting) was pretty much a hobby. I never thought of this being my career or that it was even possible,” said Scribner, who told the audience at his fifth-grade graduation that he wanted to be a lawyer and retire at 40. “But ‘Black-ish’ appeared and my whole life changed.”

For 11 years, Scribner has grown up with — and as — the “Black-ish” character. He won Outstanding Supporting Actor at the NAACP Image Awards for the role. He also has a role in the 2022 Netflix feature, “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” as well as voiceover work in the animated “She-Ra and the Princess of Power” and Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur.”

Although he considers himself lucky, working in the film industry has been a bit of a grind at times, he admitted, prompting him to question whether he wanted to continue and asking himself if he was good enough.

“A lot of people want money and fame. What’s most important in this field is loving what you’re doing,” Scribner said. “You have to get used to hearing ‘no’ and throwing yourself at it wholeheartedly and putting yourself into everything you do. Attack it and not really care about what the outcome is, but care about the process.”

Following the on-stage interview, audience members took the mic to ask their own thoughtful questions.

Message Hit Home

After hearing Scribner’s talk, graduate student Chantel Rucker walked away feeling inspired by the person she’s grown up watching.

“He really spoke to our generation — with our generation,” Rucker said, emphasizing the latter. “It was great hearing him speak on these dynamic issues of becoming who you are, putting your head down, being confident and doing the work and just taking things one step at a time.”

In sharing about his future plans with Scribner Productions, the actor talked about creating a pipeline for giving “theater kids” accessibility to the industry, which impressed Rucker.

“He really broke the barrier between being a celebrity and a person who isn’t a celebrity,” Rucker said. “I’m sure there are a lot of talented people who need that one role or that one piece of luck.”

More Black History Month events

The MTSU Office of Intercultural and Diversity Affairs’ Black History Month activities when MTSU Textiles, Merchandising, and Design hosts fashion icon and Memphis native Brandice Daniel at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27, in Keathley University Center Theater. Daniel, founder and CEO of Harlem’s Fashion Row and ICON360, has worked to bridge the gap between multicultural designers and the fashion industry.

“Showtime at the Apollo,” a talent showcase featuring over a dozen student acts, will be held from 7-9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28, in the Keathley University Center Theater. A student favorite since its debut a few years ago, the event pays homage to the popular show filmed at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, that provides a stage for aspiring amateur artists to test their talents before a raucous crowd.

The month concludes with “Glory! A Choral Concert for Black History Month,” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 29. The SOAL and TEBA chorales, Schola Cantorum and MTSU Singers from the MTSU School of Music will perform a free concert in Hinton Hall in Wright Music Building, 1439 Faulkinberry Drive.

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