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Marcus Scribner of “Black-ish” Has Already Out-Cooled Us All

In his five years on Black-ish, Marcus Scribner has survived what we could call “The Harry Potter effect.” Since he was 13, Scribner has grown up in step with his onscreen counterpart, a youthful eccentric named Junior. Now 19, and enjoying a gap year between homeschooling and starting college at University of Southern California, Scribner has built an identity that is wholly distinct from Junior’s. We spoke with Scribner about his 75 Safari bookmarks, when a crazy print gets too crazy, and the moments when reality and sitcom blend together.

Bonobos: When Junior graduated on Black-ish, he gave a very moving speech. Did that put some extra pressure on your homeschool graduation proceedings?

Marcus Scribner: I graduated on the show before I graduated in real life, but it was cool because on the show they did a whole fake mock-up graduation for me. They presented me with a fake Black-ish diploma and everything. It was a whole situation. My parents ended up coming out for it. It was kind of nice, especially being homeschooled.

When you delivered your valedictorian speech on Black-ish, which was an ode to family, were you talking at your real parents or your onscreen parents?

I was kind of talking to both. You have this whole well-written speech, so I was definitely directing it to Bow and Dre — because they were what the scene was about. But my real parents were in the audience, and they probably picked up on a bit of it. I felt extremely conflicted!

What was your first splurgy purchase when Black-ish took off?

Right when the PS4 dropped, I pre-ordered the PS4.

That’s exactly the kind of thing I would have bought if I’d had finances at 13. What was your first mega style splurge?

Recently I got a pair of Off-White Vulcanized Converse — the clear ones. I got them off StockX, and I was waiting on a perfect moment to buy them, because they’ve just been escalating in price. Recently they were at a dip, somebody was selling them, and I was like, “Now is my time. It’s now or never.” So I bought those.

I read that you’re on a gap year right now. What’s your gap year uniform?

I feel like I wear winter fashion all year round. Right now it’s sweats, a t-shirt, maybe a sweatshirt. I just got this dope Astroworld Merch sweatshirt from a Travis Scott concert. I wear that a lot. On a random day you’ll catch me in those, and my joggers and probably Air Force Ones, or Adidas All Stars.

Is a gap year still a gap year when you’re a working actor?

It still feels like a break from studying and stuff, but work is always going to be there. It’s still pretty busy right now, even during my hiatus period. I’m auditioning and stuff, and doing interviews, and traveling to events, and I’ll be working on a movie pretty soon. Work is definitely fun in this industry though.

How are you going to navigate the fact that you’re super recognizable when you start college?

I think it’s kind of cool to take a break and then make a resurgence right after, but we’ll see. Yara [Shahidi] is up at Harvard and she’s got a single dorm. She’s just by herself in her dorm room, and she kind of tries to keep it low-key. So I’ll probably try to model that whole situation — try to get a single at USC and be chill.

What’s one thing you own that you have to feel really, really confident to wear?

I like pieces that aren’t too in-your-face with brands, but I have this one Gucci crew neck that says “Gucci” in huge letters on the back and in the front. They did an MLB [Major League Baseball] collaboration, so on the front it says “LA” in the Dodgers font. It kind of low-key, but at the same time it does say Gucci in giant letters across the back. I’m never really afraid to wear anything but I don’t want to appear too ostentatious all the time, so that’s something I only sometimes whip out.

How do you think that Instagram has influenced your style? Like who do you follow and who are the people you look to?

One of my style inspirations is definitely Russell Westbrook. I feel like he’s just very out there with his fashion. He doesn’t care, which is kind of cool. I vibe with that.

Are you an online shopper or an IRL shopper?

If you looked at my Safari Explorer, right now, it is really like 75 different bookmarks of clothes that I want. I’m very tentative to pull the trigger on anything. I just let things marinate. Eventually I’ll decide to get it or not.

You and Junior have pretty different styles. Have you stolen more from Junior or has Junior stolen more from you? Who is influencing whom?

Junior likes a lot of colors and a lot of patterns and such. I also like colors and patterns — like I’m not afraid to wear whatever — but I think I’m taking little style influences from Junior. Integrating more colors and stuff. Sometimes for daily wear I go a little more like fashion-forward than Junior would. Junior always has the button-down and the crew neck — it’s a classic staple for him. I love the crew neck but I’ll take it and dress it up with a Fear of God shirt or something like that, adding little touches to make it less businessy.

It seems you’ve also tried some pretty crazy prints in your time. Where does a print go from just crazy enough to too crazy?

I like pinks. I like neon colors. I like pastels. So if any prints integrates those, I would rock it. Some of Junior’s prints go too far — like I wouldn’t go there, but he rocks it well.

What are you thinking of specifically?

I’m thinking of the neon tiger print. I don’t think I would ever wear that.

Sure. A little much.

It’s kind of fire though.

Lauren Larson is a writer and editor in New York City, aspiring to be a writer and editor in Bali.

Photos by Doug Inglish.