By Anissa Gabbara | Photo by Angel Williams
It’s official: Marsai Martin’s original comedy series Saturdays is headed to the Disney Channel for a series run, and we all get to live vicariously through the We-B-Girlz skate crew as they serve up major nostalgia at their ‘90s-style roller rink. Slaying the lead role as Paris Johnson, 14-year-old Danielle Jalade is hella hype like the rest of us. “I am beyond grateful and excited for Saturdays! The feeling is so unreal, especially since I’ve wanted to be a part of the Disney family from a very young age,” she says. “It was amazing working on set with the cast because we started off as co-stars, and we grew into a family that I love and appreciate.”
With production on deck to begin in May, the sitcom (which also stars Daria Johns, Jermaine Harris, and Mirabelle Lee, to name a few) will spotlight Black skating culture and bring relevant narratives to the forefront, such as teen social life, school, and health — specifically Paris’s battle with sickle cell disease, considered a rare blood disorder in the U.S. that disproportionately affects Black people. The series will also showcase Black family dynamics — the right way — and ‘ya girl is all the way here for it. “Up until now, [Black family dynamics have] been absent and stereotypically misrepresented in film and television,” says Danielle. “I am happy that [it’s] finally being illuminated [and] I am grateful to be a part of the shift and embody characters that other Black kids can relate to and be inspired by.”
On Disney reflecting more Black culture, the LA native says it’s important for kids to grow up feeling represented on the screen. “As a young child, when I watched TV, there were very few Black characters,” she says. “[It] never showed our culture, which made me believe that being Black was abnormal. No one else should ever feel the way I did, and I hope with this shift in television, they won’t.”
High-key committed to sparking change in the industry, Danielle wants more convos surrounding colorism to take place and plans to leverage her platform so everybody can win. “I wish television would depict all shades and sizes of people of color,” she says. “My biggest goal is to start my own production company, so I can give people of color opportunities in front of and behind the camera.”
We see you, sis.