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'Living Single' Turns 30: T.C. Carson Is Still Feeling The Impact

T.C. Carson

Photo Credit: Elite Media Studios

T.C. Carson was interviewed prior to the SAG strike.

On August 22, 1993, audiences were introduced to six 20-something Black friends who lived and loved in New York City. Living Single was a far cry from what Black viewers were used to. Created by writer and producer Yvette Lee Browser, the Fox comedy was a first-hand look at how our community had evolved and in some cases, who we have always been.

Khadijah James (Queen Latifah), Regine Hunter (Kim Fields) Maxine Shaw ( Erika Alexander) Overton Jones (John Henton), and Synclaire James (Kim Coles) made us laugh weekly with their antics as they built friendships and found love. And then there was Kyle Barker, played by all-around renaissance man T.C. Carson. He was a different character than what we were used to. From his honesty, his vulnerability, his comedic timing, and his representation of a Black man, Carson’s portrayal of Kyle Barker was fresh and in this day and age, may have caused a bit of controversy.

Now, as the iconic show is celebrating its 30th anniversary, a new audience has emerged thanks to streaming and syndication. While our favorite friends have moved on to new heights and have been dominating the entertainment industry for multiple decades, it is still hard to escape the love from fans new and old. Carson welcomes it all with open arms. But the man behind the character has a new outlook on life during these times.

“I am working to get a handle on my mental stability,” Carson says during our interview. The actor acknowledges that the political climate has taken a toll on his body and well-being, yet he continues to pour into his passion as a way of unplugging.

As we see racial tension grow in the form of attacking our education system, revisionist history, and a war against our Black bodies, shows like Living Single and characters such as Kyle Barker reminds us that it has always been okay to be our authentic selves and to make sure we are surrounding ourselves with people who know that.

“What I realize is that if they can keep you off center, if they can keep you stressed, if they can keep you agitated, then you spend money to not be those things,” Carson says as he discussed those who continue to oppress our community. “So the goal is to not be in that state and realize that a lot of good things are happening.”

T.C. Carson

Photo Credit: Elite Media Studios

In a way, life has imitated art when you listen to Carson now and as you watched him on Living Single. We are well aware of what is going on all around us, yet like the six friends on the hit show, laughter, and living brought them together and in a way became their escapism from how society treated those who looked like them. However; the show never hid behind laughter and always addressed issues straightforwardly. But in the end, always having each other made them face each challenge head-on.

Born and raised in Chicago, Carson helped usher in the thought of an educated Black man on the TV screen. He played a smooth-talking Wall Street executive who made no apology for what he wanted, and most of the time he got just that. The role of Kyle Barker was not only important for those of us who watched Living Single, but it was also important for Carson, who often challenged the stories that were being told in the writer's room.

“I saw real early what the show meant to my community,” Carson says. “I saw what the show meant to young brothers, young women,” he explains.

In the age of social media and heavy social commentary, the impact of Living Single is more visible than ever. We watched Kadijah’s entrepreneurial journey. Maxine’s career as a lawyer. We witnessed the aspiration and perseverance of Synclaire pursuing her dreams to become an actress and we watched Regine figure out her way unapologetically. For young Black boys, we saw the inventions of Overton and the smarts of Kyle as he dominated as a stockbroker.

“We haven’t seen that level of not only success but work ethic,” Carson says about the life and career of each character.

“I felt a responsibility that we didn’t become buffoons… that we didn’t become a joke,” he says as he remembers young Black men coming up to him to tell him how much the show meant to them at the time.

And as Carson fought for the stories that matter, it led to him ultimately getting “fired” he says. Still, the actor has no regrets about what he fought for.

“I don’t regret anything I was pushed to do on that show… I think all of the fights that we had were important for the show. That is why the show is what it is today,” he says.

T.C. Carson

Photo Credit: Elite Media Studios

With a career that has spanned 30+ years, Carson never forgot his first love - music. The multi-hyphenate star has been performing and showcasing his one-of-a-kind voice, which audiences were able to hear throughout multiple episodes of Living Single. For Carson, he is getting back to his passion.

“There is no greater high than being on stage with my band and the sound is right, everybody is happy… you can't get better than that,” he says.

Fans have responded well to the artistry of Carson, which they see through his social media or on stage at venues such as City Winery. With celebrations coming in for being a part of such a groundbreaking show, one thing remains true, Carson will always fight to make sure we are seen.

Photo Credit: Seven Media

Watch our interview below and learn more about what T.C. Carson has been up to as he continues to embark on his next chapter.


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