Arica Himmel in MIXED-ISH - Season 1 - "Do They Know It's Christmas?" | ©2019 ABC/Mitch Haaseth

Arica Himmel in MIXED-ISH – Season 1 – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” | ©2019 ABC/Mitch Haaseth

MIXED-ISH, now in its first season Tuesday nights on ABC, is spun off from BLACK-ISH. In BLACK-ISH, Tracee Ellis Ross plays doctor, wife and family woman Rainbow Johnson. MIXED-ISH, which Ross created with Kenya Barris (who also created BLACK-ISH) & Peter Saji, chronicles Rainbow’s childhood. Arica Himmel plays the young Rainbow in MIXED-ISH (Ross narrates the show as Rainbow’s adult self). As MIXED-ISH begins, we’re in the ‘80s. Rainbow, her two younger siblings and their parents, black mom Alicia (Tika Sumpter) and white dad Paul (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) move from a free-spirited commune to suburbia, where the kids must deal with their peers at public school.

Fourteen-year-old Himmel made her acting debut off-Broadway. She was previously in the series THANKSGIVING and the feature film BEFORE YOU KNOW IT.

ASSIGNMENT X: Were you a fan of BLACK-ISH before you got involved in MIXED-ISH?

ARICA HIMMEL: Yes. I loved watching BLACK-ISH with my family all the time.

AX: You’re playing the younger version of Tracee Ellis Ross’s BLACK-ISH character Bow, which means we have to see some of that in your performance. Have you ever had a part before that required you to study somebody else’s performance, so you could somewhat be like them?

HIMMEL: No, actually. This is my first role where I was incorporating elements from Tracee’s acting, and also some of my own stuff that I want to put into the character. Everything else was just a new character, not taking after anyone else.

AX: Has Tracee Ellis Ross given you any advice about playing Bow?

HIMMEL: Really, I think the most helpful advice I’ve gotten from her was to stay true to the character, but also have fun with it, and just have fun in general. This is a big opportunity, and it’s exciting.

AX: Do you have any input into your character? Do you talk to the show runners and say, “You know, it might be fun if I did …”?

HIMMEL: Yeah. During the shooting, I love to improvise a little, or add my own little thing. I listen to the directors, and it’s really fun.

Arica Himmel as Bow in MIXED-ISH | ©2018/Brian Bowen Smith

Arica Himmel as Bow in MIXED-ISH | ©2018/Brian Bowen Smith

AX: And is Bow’s journey at all similar or different to your own journey? You didn’t move from a commune to the suburbs, but just in terms of being in a new school …?

HIMMEL: Going to the first day of school is obviously a big challenge, and being that new kid is also a challenge, and I can relate to that. And just like Rainbow – she’s not only the new kid, but she’s also mixed at a time when people weren’t used to that, so that’s how I’m similar to Rainbow in that way.

AX: How is it playing an older sister to two younger siblings?

HIMMEL: I have an older sister, so now I have the feeling of what it’s like to be the bigger sister. And they’re really sweet, and I love working with them.

AX: Do you have more sympathy for your older sister now?

HIMMEL: Yes.

AX: How is working with Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Tika Sumpter?

HIMMEL: They’re really nice, and I love acting with them, and there’s something about the whole family that has this special bond that I really love to be a part of.

AX: Had you done half-hour comedy before MIXED-ISH?

HIMMEL: No. This is my first time. This is my first big role. In the theatre I did a dramatic role. Everything before that was a guest-starring role or stuff like that, so this is definitely big for me.

AX: Have you asked anybody about the half-hour comedy acting experience, or are you just figuring it out and experiencing it for yourself?

HIMMEL: Yeah. I think I’m just going to find out what’s down the road for me. And it’s going to be exciting.

AX: And what would you most like people to know right now about MIXED-ISH?

HIMMEL: If you’ve ever had a problem with identity, no matter what you look like or who you are, this is the show for you.

This interview was conducted during ABC’s party for the Summer 2019 Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour.

Related: Exclusive Interview with MIXED-ISH star Mark-Paul Gosselaar on Season 1

Related: Exclusive Interview with MIXED-ISH actor Gary Cole on the new comedy series and Richard Schiff on Season 3 of THE GOOD DOCTOR

Related: Exclusive Interview with BLACK-ISH star Marsai Martin on Season 3

Related:Interview with BLACK-ISH creator Kenya Barris

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Article: Exclusive Interview with MIXED-ISH star Arica Himmel on Season 1

 

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