Raven-Symoné on returning for Raven's Home: 'It means everything to me'
Raven Baxter is back, but she's older, wiser, and a divorced mother of twins. And that's not the only surprise Raven's Home, the sequel to the popular Disney Channel show That's So Raven will be bringing when it premieres on Friday. Unbeknownst to Raven, (Raven-Symoné, stepping back into the role she originated on That's So Raven 10 years ago), her son Booker (Issac Brown) has inherited her psychic visions.
"What you actually see in the show, which I find interesting, is what it's like having your first vision," says Raven-Symoné of Booker's abilities. "So when he first gets them he's kind of uneasy and doesn't know what's going on. We didn't get to see that in That's So Raven."
While Raven's daughter Nia (Navia Robinson) remains vision-free, she's still inherited many of the same qualities her mother displayed at her age — especially the same kind of bold confidence. It's a sharp contrast with Booker's more trouble-prone nature.
"Raven knows Nia is self-sufficient. She's strong and knows what's going on," explains the actress. "As of now, Booker is dealing with this psychic power as he tries to understand it and struggles with it. He's a mama's boy, but he has a responsibility now."
Lucky for Raven, she's not doing this parenting thing on her own. The three Baxters share their Chicago apartment with Raven's best friend Chelsea (Anneliese van der Pol, also reprising her role) and her son Levi (Jason Maybaum), thus providing both adults with someone they can lean on and all three kids with an extra adult to turn to when their shenanigans inevitably go wrong.
"We are helping each other co-parent, so you can only imagine what that's like with Raven and Chelsea being authoritative," laughs Raven-Symoné. "The show is based on how you can have a family in an untraditional sense. Just because you don't have a mother and a father in the home doesn't mean you can't have a healthy, happy family. It's something comprehensive and true to life and many people go through on an everyday basis."
While Raven herself might never have predicted that she would eventually marry and divorce Devon (her high school boyfriend in That's So Raven), there is one thing she has been able to control: her career. "Raven's still in fashion," says her portrayer. "She has a very interesting job, which will be revealed as the season goes on. Her true passion has always been in clothing and you can see it in the way her style has changed."
A few other things that have remained unchanged include her visions, which have grown slightly clearer, and her penchant for physical comedy, which Raven's Home features in droves. "It's fun to be able to do pratfalls and get more into what we were known for on That's So Raven," says Raven-Symoné. "This is the first time the kids have been able to do physical comedy so I'm always right there with them coaching them through it as best I can. That's how I was taught. So we're all learning together. But I think we're going to punch it up a little bit more as the season continues."
While Devon (once again played by Jonathan McDaniel), Raven's ex, is scheduled to drop by for an episode, Raven-Symoné is mum on whether the rest of the Baxter bunch (especially younger brother Cory) or even former best friend Eddie might drop by for a visit.
In the meantime, the actress (and former The View host) appears thrilled about reprising her titular character from a decade ago. "It means everything to me, being able to come back with a different view on life. I can show people who I've become as a woman," says the actress. "I really don't have to worry about anything when I play her. She's just fun. When I'm off set, I have to be me and worry about this and this and this. But [when I play] her, I can let all my inhibitions go, and let myself free."
Raven's Home premieres on Friday, July 21 on Disney Channel after the Descendants 2 premiere.