Ludacris Says His New Netflix Series Karma's World Is About 'Self Confidence, Self Empowerment'
Ludacris (born Christopher Bridges) stopped by :BLACKPRINT Meredith, the Black Employee Affinity Group at Meredith Corporation, for an exclusive interview about the new animated series, explaining that the show was named after his daughter Karma Bridges.
The star says the concept was created by Ludacris and Karma 14 years ago when she was just six years old. Little Karma would routinely pop into her dad's home studio, telling him how much she wanted to rap.
"I had to sit her down and say, 'If you want to do music, you have to talk about what goes on in your world, because daddy talks about what goes on in his,'" he says.
The seed was planted and more than a decade later, viewers will reap the benefits when the series premieres on October 15.
The show replicates experiences from Karma's own life, which many Black kids will be able to relate to. There's no sugar-coating—the problem is presented, the character displays real feelings towards it and then there is a resolution that is synonymous with reality. Kids and parents will have tangible words to use, should they come face to face with the same tribulation.
The main character Karma Grant, voiced by Asiahn Bryant, is a smart and beautiful young Black girl (complete with a twist out and rapping skills) who sets out to change the world through her experiences.
In the episode "Hair Comes Trouble" which is centered around her hair, Karma deals with the, "Can I touch it?" question, which many Black people have had to navigate. It occurs at a sleepover with friends of different racial backgrounds, who stare in confusion and amazement as Karma pulls out her bonnet at bedtime.
"You wear a hat to bed?" one friend asks. Karma eventually speaks up, telling her best friend Switch, voiced by Kaila Mullady and Aria Capria, that she didn't feel comfortable with all the questions about her hair. The incident led Karma to begin disliking her authentic self, until her Mom, voiced by Danielle Brooks, steps in to give sage advice.
"Our hair is gorgeous whether it's straight like Cousin Kiki's or in locks like Miss Washington; tight textured like mine or big curls like yours. You come from a long line of Black women with beautiful hair, especially me." The episode closes with an uplifting rap about Karma loving her uniqueness.
Real-life experiences are the framework for the episodes and lyrics in the songs that Karma raps.
"[These] songs are talking about self-confidence, self-empowerment, being a young girl, what they go through and just trying to be positive for the world," says Ludacris, who voices the Dad character. "[There are] so many pressures that young kids are going through right now. The timing couldn't be more perfect for this to come to fruition."
Karma's World is also a place for diversity and inclusion of races and talents.
The Fast & Furious alum explains, "Diversity and inclusion throughout the cast [and their] talents, [is important]. Even the little brother (Keys, voiced by Camden Coley) is an inventor. Even though he may not all the way get it right, he just wants to continue improving. There are so many subtleties and underlying messages throughout this whole thing."
Ludacris is a girl dad four times over — Karma 20, Cai 8, Cadence 6, and Chance 11 weeks — and he says they all enjoy Karma's World.
"They get to watch all the episodes before the rest of the world gets to see them," he says. "It's great because it promotes dialogue with things that are going on in the [show] and then they start dancing and singing. You get to realize what are their favorite songs or favorite dances. They are my research group and we will continue to do better and better as my girls tell me what they love."
Viewers of all races will welcome this beautifully done series. It normalizes what some may not think is normal and gives a voice to the inner child of grownups that didn't have a Karma's World when they were a kid. Most importantly, the series will let young Black kids know they can be their authentic selves, unapologetically.
"Why tiptoe through life to arrive safely at death?" says Ludacris.
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