Actress Kyla Pratt joins Dear Culture to talk about her 30-plus years in Hollywood and the continued success of The Proud Family. She also weighs in on the argument that the animated show’s theme song featuring Solange and Destiny’s Child is the best of all time.
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Panama Jackson [00:00:00] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network. Black Culture Amplified.
Kyla Pratt [00:00:07] I was spelling my butt off. I was enunciating each letter and each word and they played me. But it’s cool. I mean.
Panama Jackson [00:00:16] We appreciate actress Kyla Pratt playing along with us for our Tru’ish Black Stories series, running here on Dear Culture during the month of February. We couldn’t have asked for a more fun, more invested individual to be a loser for a spelling bee. It was a lot of fun. But now let’s move on to the real conversation that we had. See, Kyla has been in the game for over 30 years and is a Hollywood veteran. Whether you know her from UPN’s One on One, the movies, Love and Basketball or Dr. Doolittle or watching her right now on Call Me Kat. She’s an example of how to successfully take childhood fame and turn it into adult success. And her voice is famous, too. You see, Penny Proud is back from the Proud family.
Kyla Pratt [00:00:57] Sorry I’m late, brother Kwami. I didn’t hear my alarm again.
Panama Jackson [00:01:01] Except now it’s the Proud Family. Louder and Prouder, which was rebooted last year on Disney Plus. Make sure you go check that out. Thanks for watching. You’ve been in the limelight for like 20 plus years on TV, like in films. Like, what’s it like growing up? Like, literally on camera in a way where you’ve been culturally significant the entire time?
Kyla Pratt [00:01:21] Is cool with life. I mean, what’s what’s amazing is that, like, I watched my mom perform at a young age. My mom used to do plays all throughout L.A., and I got to be a background character in one of her plays. And so when the opportunity came about for me to become an actress, I was like, Oh, yeah, cool. I want to be like my mom. But I was like, that kid that had so much energy, but I so chill. Like I loved working, but I didn’t think about like, “Oh, everybody’s watching me” and “Oh pay attention to me.” It was more like, “Oh, I get to go perform, now I got to go home and clean my room or I’m gonna get in trouble, or no.” Or “Now I want to go to the school dance” or “now can I do drill team after school?” “Nope, you can’t because you have auditions.” It was it was an interesting childhood, but it was absolutely amazing. And the fact that I’ve been in this business for so long, it didn’t always feel like I was in the limelight. Sometimes it felt like, Oh, I’m not working like that anymore. But I was always doing a little something here and there. But I love what I do, you know what I mean? And I and I enjoy the fact that people who love my work are following, you know, the things that I do, and they enjoy it as well.
Panama Jackson [00:02:32] Every so often, like Black Twitter, like all of us that live and work in a Blacksphere, we all start these arguments about some man or of Black culture, Black history, whatever, right? Theme songs always comes up. Proud Family Theme song is always on the list of like the best theme songs, the most soulful, the Blackest, whatever is always up there.
Proud Family Theme Song [00:02:54] You know, there’s no one I love as much as you. Family. Family. Proud Family.
Panama Jackson [00:03:05] Where do you put it? Like. Where do you where do you put the old version that has Solange and Destiny’s Child, which makes it iconic in and of itself? And I know Joyce Rice did the new one. Like, do you ever think about the iconic theme song here? Where do you place it in more like the best theme songs of all time? Feel free to go ahead and say it’s the greatest if you want to.
Kyla Pratt [00:03:24] Oh yeah. I can’t really think of anything theme song this greater. I mean, there’s a there’s a lot of, you know, amazing theme songs out there, but I mean, we have Solange and like, literally, I saw a video a couple of years ago of Solange at a concert and she just started singing, a few of the words in the entire arena, finished the song with her. Like, I just feel like our theme song is and was iconic. And to have Joyce Rice step in now and a lot of people are like, “Why did you guys change it?” “Why did you do that?” And I just feel like, you know, my kids love the new theme song.
Proud Family: Louder and Prouder Theme Song [00:04:01] More than anybody. Every single day that I’m heading off to school.
Kyla Pratt [00:04:07] Like it’s the it’s it’s the point of having our version and giving the new generation theirs enlist all merged together and become one. You know, and I just feel like it’s amazing. Like, I, I wish I was like, dang, why Solonge get to sing? I want to, I could have been a part of it like that’s cool. But I got to be in a little video in the background. It’s cute.
Panama Jackson [00:04:29] You know, you mentioned your kids. This is actually a really good Segway. So I have four kids. And you have three children, I believe, right?
Kyla Pratt [00:04:34] Yes, I birthed two and a bonus baby.
Panama Jackson [00:04:38] That’s three as far as I’m concerned. What is that like for them watching like the loud, like the Proud Family like this is you like my kids get a kick out of seeing me in a YouTube video that somebody just uploaded. But you’re actually somebody that, like millions of people, have been paying attention to their career watching. Do your kids have any idea of who you are and what it is that you do and are they is impressed with you as. I don’t know. Like my kids are with me who see me on a random YouTube video that 30 people watched.
Kyla Pratt [00:05:10] I think so. I feel like I when they were younger, I put on the Proud Family movie just to see if they would recognize my voice. And they did.
Proud Family [00:05:18] It doesn’t have to be this way. Remember all the good times we had. You can help us.
Kyla Pratt [00:05:23] And then when Disney Plus put the Proud Family Original series on their streaming platform, they binge that and now they’re like looking forward to the first season. It was new episodes coming out every week. They were like every Wednesday. Is it Wednesday? Is it Wednesday? And I think just to be a part of something that my kids love is like an amazing feeling because I know eventually they’re gonna be teenagers and they can be like, All right, my list is all right. You do your work. And again, but, you know, I’m little performers over here, like I’m an artist. Their dad’s an artist. Like any type of art that I don’t do, he does. So it’s kind of hard for our kids to not, like, you know, follow down that path. So they love you doing voices and they love performing and dancing and singing and acting. And, you know, so I think they just kind of, you know, look up to me in that way. And I’m trying to show them the balance of, you know, making it fun. But it’s not your all, it’s not your everything. Don’t mess yourself. Don’t think too hard. Just have fun and let it be, you know?
Panama Jackson [00:06:25] My daughter is 14, but I have a six year old, a eight, 14, seven, six and two. And like, I know it’s crazy even, but some of the lessons like the influencer stuff, like my daughter’s going through that stuff now that she’s the same age as Penny Proud, effectively, you know, like she’s she’s on her cellphone all the time thinking about influencers and all that. Like, are you able to well, one, do you have input into what kind of stories are being told and to do you use some of that stuff and talking to your own kids about, I don’t know, life what what life is like now. Because when the show first premiered, there were no cell phones. Cell phones weren’t everywhere with everybody. Right. And now that’s just a part of life. And there’s like delivery, like the apps. Everything that’s in this show is very modern, down to the inclusion, to the the family structure of the the Jewish Black, the Lebowitz, Jenkins and all that stuff. Like it’s a very inclusive show. Like how do you use that to teach lessons, I suppose?
Kyla Pratt [00:07:22] Well, I don’t have much input on the, the, the content, like the episodes and what’s going on. And what’s crazy is like, I’m very opinionated, so everything else I’m a part of and always I’ve always had so much input on. But this is a show where I know that they like they got this like they, they know exactly what to do. And, and I completely trust everything that they put in front of me. Me personally, I feel like a lot of people like, I love it. You know, you talk about inclusion, Like, I love the fact that we are so much about representation and making sure that we are representing any type kind people in the world and allowing people to feel seen. While watching our cartoon.
[00:08:09] I’m La Cienega Boulevardez and I’m Penny Proud. And I’m Michael Collins and I’m Dijonay .
Kyla Pratt [00:08:15] And with this subject matter like. Like you said, cell phones and social media and influencers and self-worth and boys at school and family dynamics of why you can’t do certain things if you’re a girl and you’re guy. Like all these different things sparked conversations in my household, and I love it because I want my kids to like the best conversations to me, start at home. And a lot of parents are nervous to have certain conversations, but I’m like, you have to have them because if not, your kids are going to go talk to kids in school who know nothing for real or they know some type of weird explanation that somebody gave them. So I think it’s best for us to talk together, you know? And yeah, in some episodes I’m clutching my pearls a little bit and I’m like, “Oh, baby, she gonna ask me. She gonna ask me.” And they do. But I like I said, I would much rather be the person putting my kids up on game and letting them go and figure it out somewhere else.
Panama Jackson [00:09:13] The name of our podcast is Dear Culture. It’s a podcast that’s for, by and about culture and, you know, basically highlighting and uplifting and enlightened stories and all the stuff about everything that happens in the Black community. You’ve been a part of so many cultural moments, like literally from the shows you’ve been on. Again, Love and Basketball is one of those classic movies.
Love and Basketball [00:09:31] No, I’mg going be in the NBA. You’re going to be my cheerleader.
Panama Jackson [00:09:37] I think. It’s a very toxic masculinity movie now, looking back with old eyes. But, you know, that’s what it is. You know what I’m saying? A different times. As somebody who’s been around this entire time, who’s been a part of so many things. What do you think is your most significant contribution to the culture? Like artistically? I know that’s a big question, by the way.
Kyla Pratt [00:09:57] That is a big question because I’m like my contribution is that artistically.
Panama Jackson [00:10:02] Whatever however you want to put out to artistically, cause I was thinking of TV and movies and stuff like that, but just as a human being.
Kyla Pratt [00:10:10] I feel like my biggest contribution is continuing to be myself. I know that being a part of an industry like this sometimes can become overwhelming and sometimes lead you down different paths that are not really for you. And I just want to always be authentically me. And I feel like the more people are able to do that, like the more connected we feel. And I feel like that’s why a lot of people like, you know, they vibe with me. They’re like, Oh, she calls you chillin, you know? And I and I love everything that I’ve been a part of. I was talking to someone recently and I was like, you know, all of that wasn’t planned out. I auditioned for Love and Basketball. I auditioned for the Proud Family. I auditioned for the Dr. Doolittle movies. It wasn’t just like something that I set out to do. I was just very blessed to be a part of amazing projects that, you know, people who look like us, you know, were able to enjoy and see themselves in so many ways and I think ultimately is just not losing myself in the process of wanting to entertain others.
Panama Jackson [00:11:20] Very good answer. I love that. And by the way, the fact you had to audition for all those, though, they fit you like a glove. Like every one of those things. Seems like it was offered to you first and only to you.
Kyla Pratt [00:11:29] Thank you. Thank you. No, I’ve been very fortunate. Like the Nike commercials back in the day. Like I auditioned for that.
Nike Commerical [00:11:35] Cooper. Guard. Houston Comets. Yeah. Why you pull up for the three on the break last night. Well I was open. Tina was open on the block.
[00:11:43] I was up for another job and my mom was like, Which one do you want to do? And I was like, I think I like to be the sassy girl like my mom, let alone like ten year old decide her future, you know? So we just we were just chillin and I just got very, you know, blessed and fortunate. And I met amazing people who are doing amazing things nowadays. And we talk about Love and Basketball. Gina Prince-Bythewood, the Woman King like, what? You know, like, I’m just I’m very blessed to have met, like certain people and worked with them and and to be in love with something that I love to do.
Panama Jackson [00:12:16] A Blackfession is the last thing we do on my show every, every episode, which is basically a confession about your Blackness, something people would be surprised to know about you because you’re Black, right? Like, people would be like, I ain’t seen The Color Purple. I ain’t seen Friday. You know, somebody told us they put ketchup and mustard in their grits. Lots of people can’t dance. L.A. is disgusting. Do you have anything that people would be surprised to know about you?
Kyla Pratt [00:12:38] Oh, my gosh. I don’t know if people would be surprised to know much about me. I pretty much talk about everything. I’ve been the first thing that I think of, but I don’t think a lot of people do anymore. I don’t eat pork. I don’t eat pork anything. I’m not a ham hock, not a pork chop, not a bacon, not a nothing. I don’t know if that’s considered like I know a lot of Black people look at me like what? You don’t eat pig? I’m like nah.
Panama Jackson [00:13:05] I’m from down south, so I’m looking at you crazy. But that’s okay.
Kyla Pratt [00:13:08] I mean, my family’s from the South, but I’m like, I ain’t doing like, I’m not a foot person. Ya’ll talking about pig feet. Like, what? You know. I mean. I mean, that’s the only thing that I can really think of everything else. Like I can. I can dance. I can. I’m like, I’m trying to think of something more fun. But, nah, I think that’s about it. Everything else, I’m pretty much an open book.
Panama Jackson [00:13:29] Well, we’ll take it. We’ll take it. If you like what you heard, be sure to download theGrio’s app to hear more episodes of Dear Culture and more original content from theGrio Black Podcast Network. Please email all questions, suggestions and compliments the podcast at theGrio.com. Dear Culture is an original production brought to you by theGrio Black Podcast Network. Coming this February, theGrio Black Podcast Network presents Dear Culture True’ish Black Stories.
Dr. Chrstina Greer [00:13:59] When you think of sheer artistry, sheer creativity, the ability for someone to bring Black people together in the most fundamental ways. It’s, you know, I would say of my four Randy Watkins, my number one.
Micahel Harriot [00:14:13] When the news about Ricky first broke, what I heard about it is the thing you hear about, you know, every time somebody Black dies that it was gang related. That means the police don’t know what happened. So they just said probably the gang’s probably, you know, the other Black dudes.
Damon Young [00:14:31] When I think of Akeelah, you know, I think about I think about how impressionable white people can be. I think about how, you know, if you watched that movie again, you know, he should have laughed like three times.
Panama Jackson [00:14:42] Where were you when you heard the story about them suckers getting served by Wade’s dance crew?
Shamira Ibrahim [00:14:49] You know, it’s crazy that you mention this. So as a New Yorker. Right. Everyone knows where they were on 911. Right. You know, couple of years later. Right. 23. Everyone hears about this crazy moment in a boxing ring because that’s where dancers duke it out. Right in boxing rings.
Panama Jackson [00:15:06] If you could say something to Ricky right now, what would you say to him?
Monique Judge [00:15:10] Ricky, you should’ve never got that girl pregnant. You knew I had a crush on you. You should have gone with me instead.
Panama Jackson [00:15:14] There moments in Black culture examined like never before. Join us each week as we dive into the Black moments that changed us. That changed the world. Make sure to subscribe to dear culture so you never miss an episode.
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