By Randy Mastronicola, Portraits by John Russo
WE SPENT THE BETTER PART of a muggy, June day with Anthony Anderson at a photo studio in Los Angeles. There was a lot going on. That’s the typical vibe at photo shoots, but more importantly, there was also a lot going on in our California world and globally. The pandemic crisis was in full swing–particularly in Los Angeles–and there were surging Black Lives Matter protests occurring throughout Southern California. Everyone seemed just a bit unsure of how life would play out as the state was starting to enter its first phase of reopening.
As photo sessions go, this one was a benchmark. It was the first for our magazine since the pandemic altered life as we know it. We strategically plotted a course to have a socially distanced shoot. There were rules: only essential personnel would be allowed to attend; we’d utilize two large studios in an effort to keep a wide berth for staffers; everyone must wear a face covering, with the exception being Anthony while being photographed; and people would keep maximum distance from each other at all times. The final rule was that we will have fun despite all of these adjustments.
Fortunately, it all worked out. Anthony was a good sport, and the crew were real troopers.
We learned that Anthony is legit. A husband and father of two. A proud of- his-humble Compton beginnings family member and philanthropist. (His Anderson Family Foundation has raised over a million dollars for a variety of charities.) Anthony is also a life-long game show geek. (He’s currently the host of To Tell the Truth.) Along with the other principals of black-ish, he’s worked his way into the hearts of millions over these last six or seven television seasons by offering us a network sitcom with humanity, humor and depth. Anthony will have turned fifty by the time this issue is published, and we learned he’s a lionhearted guy with a unique, experiential perspective as a Black man.
This was good news for everyone at the photo shoot. Chatting with this thoughtful man at this point in time also provided a uniquely impactful experience.