Writer, producer and actors, Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle are doubling down on the misconceptions of the South Side of Chicago and showing that there is a softer side to it in their new comedy series South Side on Comedy Central.
Check out the official description:
South Side is an aspirational, scripted comedy set in and around the working class neighborhood of Englewood on the South Side of Chicago. The show follows two friends who just graduated community college … so now they’re ready to take over the world! But until they do they’re stuck at Rent-T-Own, a retail-rental crossroads where the South Side’s vast ensemble of characters come together. Despite the obstacles of inner-city life, these friends and their co-workers all strive to achieve their entrepreneurial dreams. Brought to life by local Chicagoans, both in front of and behind the camera, this show gives viewers an authentic portrayal of what life on the South Side is all about. It’s evidence that what you see on the news is only a small piece of the city.
During an interview with theGrio, the creators open up on the challenges the characters face and how they represent the hustle that young, Black creatives and entrepreneurs embody today.
“I think all of us have the things in life that people push us towards and then we have the things we want to do. For example, Diallo and I went to Harvard. Not a lot of people from there are actually successful in the entertainment industry. In fact, if you come from where we come from—which are mostly working-class Black neighborhoods. It’s almost like a sin to go to a school like Harvard and then be like, ‘Alright, mom and dad. Now I’m going to Hollywood instead of being a doctor, lawyer,’” Salahuddin told TheGrio.
“And it’s hard it’s hard to break out of the boxes people put you in. And unfortunately a lot of people will keep themselves in those boxes. What I love about our characters is they don’t do that. They go for it. They go for it. In fact, we often say that if our main character, Simon, was born White in another part of the country, he’d be a billionaire. Unfortunately, the challenges he was born with, [the] neighborhood that he comes from, the things that were put on him before he was born that is a lot to kind of work through,” he explains. “He’s definitely gonna make it happen for himself but he’s still refusing to accept what the world wants him to be. And I think we similarly refuse to accept what the world wanted us to be. And I think that’s something that I hope everybody learns, that lesson because it’s a much better life when you are who you’re supposed to be.”
Riddle adds that if you watch the show, you will notice that every character on the show has a side hustle or another way to get “put on” and they made sure to embrace that. Sometimes you have to create your lane and network across with your peers to reach that life-changing opportunity.
“You know the one thing that me and [Salahuddin] did before anybody ever gave us any money to write for TV is that we shot a lot of stuff and posted it on YouTube,” says Riddle. “We just did a panel discussion with Issa Rae and she had ‘Awkward Black Girl’ off and running long before HBO came. It’s not like HBO descended from on high and said, ‘Issa we shall give you this show.’ It works the other way around. Everybody’s got a movie studio in your pocket right now.”
“So instead of downloading that new game ‘Toon Blast’ or whatever you’re playing, get [to] your writing and get to shooting and get your friends together.”
The creators share the sentiments that young people in America, especially Black folks are so creative. Black people are out here creating new avenues and entrepreneurial ventures and they are encouraged by it!
South Side premieres July 24 at 10:30pm/9:30ct on Comedy Central.