Cedric The Entertainer Talks Upcoming Book, His New BBQ Venture, And Working Behind The Camera
BLACK ENTERPRISE’s Selena Hill sat down with comedy veteran Cedric the Entertainer to discuss his upcoming crime fiction novel inspired by his grandfather, the actor’s new barbecue business, and what it was like directing the 100th episode of his long-running CBS sitcom, The Neighborhood.
Having been in the entertainment industry for over three decades, Cedric the Entertainer is no stranger to the business. Nearing 60 years old, the comedian, whose real name is Cedric Antonio Kyles, has appeared in over 50 television shows and films and several stand-up specials. Now, he can add author and business owner to his extensive résumé.
Cedric’s new novel is titled Flipping Boxcars, and the story follows Babe, a slick-mouthed but charming family man who struggles to maintain some semblance of financial stability amid World War II. Babe’s gambling ways eventually throw his entire family’s livelihood into disarray, and the swindler is forced to go big or go broke.
Though he never met him, Cedric revealed that his mother’s father inspired the book’s main character.
“So he was a businessman, he was a gambler, he was a hustler. He was a family man. He was all these things, and he’s just trying to live a better life. And so that’s what I tell the story about, and it’s a character I created that’s loosely based off my grandfather,” Cedric revealed.
Despite never speaking with him, Cedric has been told of his uncanny similarities with his late grandfather.
“He was humorous but, you know, had an entrepreneurial kind of spirit, and he was a family man, yet he was also a man of the streets, like he can handle himself in all situations. So it’s one of those things that I feel like, you know, we have this great resemblance that I have through osmosis or genes or DNA or something,” he said.
The novel is slated to debut on Sept. 12 and is Cedric’s first stint at writing.
The book isn’t Cedric’s only new project this year, however. Late this summer, he and fellow actor Anthony Anderson launched a barbecue seasoning business, which Cedric discussed with Hill.
“Anthony and I, we’ve been friends for many, many years, man. And so we would go on golf trips with our buddies, you know, and we would also often rent the houses and stay all together, and I’d be the one that would cook most of the time. So that became my love of cooking. And then we wanted to do something that was like a brand that was not alcohol. But showing this, this idea of Black unity, two brothers together, and BBQ just was natural. It was a natural space for it. It was just one that we all recognize as we do as a community,” he said.
“We get together, we got cookouts, we have family barbecues,” he continued. “All these things mean us celebrating with each other and being with each other and having a great time eating good food. And so that’s what the background of the brand is and why we created it so that we can be in the space of barbecue and grilling and just go and have them kick it with people and talk and laugh and meet folks and don’t I love it.”
The business, called AC Barbecue, offers three seasoning rubs: Midnight Smoke, Lemon Stepper, and the all-purpose MVP. The official website also features several recipes on how to best prepare different dishes, from classic pulled pork sliders to lemon pepper rotisserie chicken. In line with the new barbecue business, the pair also has a new television series called Kings of BBQ, which premiered on A&E this August. The show follows Cedric and Anderson as they discover the best tricks, tips, and techniques for grilling barbecue as they establish their own budding empire.
Cedric currently stars in and acts as executive producer for CBS’s The Neighborhood, which has aired since 2018. The show recently hit a milestone of 100 episodes, and the comedian directed the momentous occasion. When asked whether he has a preferred role in the show’s creation, Cedric had nothing but praise for all aspects of the job.
“I just enjoy it, man. I just really appreciate the blessing to be able to create and do the things that have opportunities in front of me, and when I get a chance to do them, I just go for it. So I really feel blessed to be doing the show, having a good time making people laugh, and coming to their homes on Monday nights,” he shared.
“Of course, you know, being able to be the EP of the show is all about having the right voice and tone and texture, making sure it’s saying what I want to say, you know, and then being able to direct is just another great opportunity.”
Cedric also spoke about what it was like stepping behind the camera and directing his castmates for a change.
“I got wonderful actors. Yes, my friends, we love each other. And so for me to be like the boss-boss, like when I’m in the EP, I’m the actor, but when I’m the director, you got to blow it out.”
Cedric’s career has flourished over the past 30 years and only seems to continue to do so. You can watch the actor in The Neighborhood on Mondays at 8/7 PM CT on CBS Network.
But also, check out Cedric’s full interview on The New Norm here.