“When you are a comedy person, you get in trouble a lot as people take things very heavy, but I have never had any backlash with my jokes,” says Kym Whitley who stars in “Black Dynamite,” the new animated comedy series scheduled to premiere on Adult Swim.
Featuring the voices of Michael Jai White (The Dark Knight), comedian Tommy Davidson (“Everybody Hates Chris”) and Byron Minns ("The Practice"), “Black Dynamite” is a half-hour animated series set in 1970s Los Angeles. The show chronicles the exploits of its central character, Black Dynamite (White), and his motley crew, that includes his sidekick Bullhorn (Minns), Cream Corn (Davidson) and a no-nonsense Afro-sporting prostitute named Honey Bee, voiced by Whitley.
A controversial, X-rated series based on the 2009 live action feature film about an African American legend called Black Dynamite, Whitley, who starred in the original film, jumped at the chance to reprise her role in the animated series.
“Honey Bee was a certain type of woman in the film,” says the actress and stand-up comic whose credits include Next Friday, Fun With Dick and Jane and We Bought A Zoo. “She had a certain way of talking and walking – kind of slow and deliberate – and in this animated series she’s a little different. Many of the people who were in the original film, like Tommy, Michael, Byron and myself, are in the animated series, and it was very important to have the same cast because some of our voices are very distinct and fans of the movie know them. They were willing to have us back and we were willing to do it.”
A polyester pantsuit-wearing caricature with a black belt in martial arts, Black Dynamite is a former CIA assassin who has given up his career to protect the orphans and prostitutes in his neighborhood –he represents comedy at its best.
“We are very respectful of the characters that we created in the original live action film,” adds Minns, who also serves as a co-producer on the series. “What makes the animated series special is that we are able to delve into the characters in full, and take it so much further than we can take it in film.”
With plenty of salacious humor and foul language, the series explores icons of the ‘70s. There’s a satirical episode where Black Dynamite, who is heavily in debt to the IRS, is forced to take on the job of getting the drug-induced, foul-mouthed and belligerent comedian Richard Pryor to the Sunset Strip for a live performance. It’s an episode that ensures humor, and if the stars and filmmakers are worried about any backlash from the Pryor foundation — they are not showing it.
“I wanted to take a look at the dark side of Richard,” says executive producer and writer Carl Jones. “It is important to show different sides and dimensions to the characters. Conditions and circumstances make a person. There are a lot of pressures that exist in society.”
“It’s a cartoon and anything can happen in it,” adds Whitley. “It is for fun and we are not trying to heal the world in it, but it is a place where you can escape. It is going to offend, and it might have some things that everyone is not going to be happy with. As an artist, if you spend your time trying to please everyone, your product will fall apart and you will please no one.”
A series which is set to premiere on Cartoon Network’s late night programming block, Adult Swim, the series, like the movie, is predominantly a parody of and tribute to Blaxploitation cinema, and features a dynamic animation style similar to “The Boondocks,” only with more censored dialogue.
“I believe it is going to be a hit, and I enjoy the animation and enjoy voicing Honey Bee. It’s something I have not seen before on Adult Swim,” says Whitley, who has also guest starred on ABC's “Grey's Anatomy” and HBO's “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” “When I turn on Adult Swim, it’s just to laugh and have a good time. It is imagination because cartoons can do anything. They can get in a spaceship, go underground, and you can go anywhere with them.”
“Black Dynamite” premieres on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim Sunday, July 15.