College is about meeting new people. Now that Zoey Johnson (Yara Shahidi) has left her family home in black-ish behind for the greener pastures of Southern California University in the upcoming Freeform spin-off grown-ish, she’s running into all kinds of fellow students — and two of the first people she meets are twin track stars Skyler and Jazlyn, played by YouTube musicians (and Beyoncé proteges) Chloe and Halle Bailey, who also created the show’s theme song.
Although Chloe and Halle are a few years apart in real life, it was pretty easy for them to slip into the mode of actual twins who constantly finish each other’s sentences.
“Me and Chloe, we feel like we’re twins all the time. Sometimes we forget that I’m the younger sister,” Halle tells EW. “We talk the same, we interrupt each other, and say the same thing when we’re watching shows all the time. It’s really trippy, but it’s a blast. She’s my best friend, and we just were really channeling ourselves for the characters, though it’s also our alter egos with their sassiness and attitude.”
Sky and Jazz are star athletes, but the show makes clear up front that this also means they face monumental pressures and, in Zoey’s words, “are judged about everything, just like the young female black athletes who came before them.” Balancing humor with seriousness is where black-ish and grown-ish alike excel.
“With the pressures that young female athletes face, it’s hard to go through those things and remain composed, and remain professional, with all these people talking in their ear and wanting to live up to their expectations,” Halle says. “There’s a serious part of the comedy in all this, and that’s what I think is beautiful because it’s what [showrunner] Kenya Barris does such an amazing job of, putting the seriousness with the comedy so people understand it. We’re so excited we get to play that and show that side.”
Like Shahidi herself, Halle is in the funny position of portraying a college student on-screen before actually attending college herself. But that doesn’t mean she can’t relate to the subject matter of the show; grown-ish is aimed at young people of all ages.
“I’m in my senior year of high school right now, so it’s kind of interesting to have to play a college student when I honestly don’t know anything about college except my sister’s experiences,” Halle says. “But it’s quite fun, it’s kind of like peeking into the future a little bit.”
Chloe adds, “What I think grown-ish does so great is you don’t have to be a college student to watch and enjoy the show. It touches on all situations that affect teenagers. Even adults can watch the show like ‘I remember that, I remember this. Grown-ish is so funny and touches on so many topics that I think need to be shined on.”
Check out the exclusive clip above. Grown-ish premieres on Freeform Jan. 3.