Actor William Jackson Harper, who plays Chidi in The Good Place, has praised the comedy show for “normalising interracial relationships”.
Jackson Harper, who plays an indecisive philosophy professor called Chidi, said that when he first auditioned for the role he “didn’t feel like [he] had a real shot” because of his ethnicity.
He admitted that once he discovered his character would be the love interest for Kristen Bell’s character Eleanor, his instinctive reaction was, “I just don’t know how a guy like me would land a role like that.”
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“I hadn’t seen a lot of [interracial relationships on television]… I see very little of it,” he told The Root. “It’s an interracial couple and I feel like that’s something that on network TV we don’t see it without it being, you know, something that is germane to the existence of the show, or the existence of the episode.”
Jackson Harper added, “I just don’t know how a guy like me would land a role like that. I just hadn’t seen it on network TV. Granted, you know, the creators of the show weren’t thinking like that; it was really just a product of growing up in the US. I didn’t feel like I had a real shot.”
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The actor added that the show itself, which depicts its characters in the afterlife, renders Chidi and Eleanor’s interracial relationship “secondary to the fact that we’re just dealing with issues of life and death”.
“The thing that I love about the show, beyond the fact that I get to play this role, it’s normalising interracial relationships,” he said. “The fact that I’m a dark-skinned black man and Kristen Bell is a fair-skinned white woman, and that we’re in a relationship, is secondary to the fact that we’re just dealing with issues of life and death and eternity. And trying to save our mortal souls. That’s what’s important.”
The Good Place airs weekly on NBC in the United States, and is available to stream on Netflix in the UK.
There is just one episode left in the current season three run, but a fourth season has already been confirmed.