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Chris "Ludacris" Bridges is famous for his onscreen hustle in the Fast & Furious franchise and his flow on the mic, but when it comes to his children, the rapper and actor subscribes to the idea that this is their world and he's just living in it.
While he has four daughters, it's his oldest, Karma, who gets the star treatment in Karma's World, Bridges' vibrant and thoughtful new animated series that centers on a young girl as she starts middle school and learns to stay true to herself through her music. Bridges not only created the show, which premieres Oct. 15 on Netflix, but also executive produces it and voices Karma's father. EW spoke to the multihyphenate about the Fast elements he infused in Karma's World and being the dad who raps on stage with his kid's favorite singer.
Rich Fury/Getty Images Ludacris
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: In one of the standout episodes of Karma's World, Karma is uncomfortably questioned by her friends about her hair. It was written by Halcyon Person [Blaze and the Monster Machines] and Kellie R. Griffin [Tyler Perry's House of Payne], two accomplished Black female writers, but did your daughter's own experience also help shape the episode?
CHRIS BRIDGES: One hundred percent. A lot of the episodes are based on real-life situations that Karma actually went through, which makes them even more special.
What advice did you give Karma when it happened?
[I told her] there's a creator that made us all with unique qualities, and you have to embrace those qualities — and that she comes from a long lineage of strong Black hair.
One of the things that impressed me the most about this series is not only the diversity of the characters, but the staunch commitment to vividly portraying that diversity. For instance, I was floored by the realistic detail of Karma's curls. Were you instrumental in deciding the look of the characters?
Absolutely instrumental at every stage, and we went through a lot of stages. It's just mind-blowing if you knew how many passes we did going through clothes, skin tones, hair, accessories, shoes, everything. It was important for me to make every single character unique.
In the stellar "Daddy Daughter Day" episode, Karma is hyped about a rapper named MC Grillz, someone her dad thinks is wack. Who was the first artist Karma was into that you weren't feeling?
There wasn't anybody. She loved Justin Bieber, but this is unique because I did a song ["Baby"] with him. So there was never an issue where I was like, "I don't like the artists she likes." I actually did a damn song with the artist she likes. I would take her to the concerts and then I would be like, "Hey, Daddy will be back," and I had to go on stage and perform "Baby" with him. That's very different than any other father when it comes to their kid loving an artist.
"Daddy Daughter Day" also shows Karma figuring out her changing relationship with her dad. I know Karma is 20 years old now, but is there a specific moment you can recall when you realized that she was outgrowing you?
There's always that time no matter how cool of a dad you are where they get dropped off at the mall and they don't want you coming in with them. I think that was a moment where I was like, "Oh, dang, okay."
Jordan Fisher voiced MC Grillz. Was Drake not available?
[Laughs] That's funny.
Seriously, though, aside from Jordan, the show features quite the galaxy of stars, with Danielle Brooks as Karma's mom and actors like Dawnn Lewis, Dascha Polanco, and Tiffany Haddish lending their voices throughout the season. When Karma's World gets its second season, can we expect any Fast franchise actors to guest-star? What's Tyrese Gibson doing anyway?
Tyrese is shooting a lot. I think he's just shot five movies over the last, like, 12 months, but to answer your question, the sky's the limit. Never say never.
Who's your dream guest star?
My own daughter Karma. Because she's so busy with school she hasn't voiced any of the characters, and it would actually be dope to at least get Karma to do a guest appearance. That would be amazing. She has grown up to be the absolute best human being on Earth, and I couldn't be more proud.
Karma's little brother, Keys, actually reminds me a bit of your Fast character, Tej, with his innovation and ingenuity. Was that purposefully done?
I didn't even think about that. That's so dope. It wasn't purposely done, but I can tell you the diversity and inclusion — in terms of having these characters be from different walks and different places and intelligent roles — was. Being able to have different kids of different ethnicities represent and have positive roles is definitely something I took out of the Fast & Furious franchise.
Netflix A scene from 'Karma's World'
In the credits you went with Chris Bridges instead of Ludacris. Is that something you're doing for a particular reason?
Yeah. Chris Bridges, he's a father. Ludacris is a persona. Ludacris makes adult music. Chris Bridges is the father who is the creator of Karma's World. When I act, it's Chris "Ludacris" Bridges. One of my biggest things is diversifying my portfolio and being multifaceted. I love creating these different personas.
Speaking of Chris Bridges, the father, your reading of the children's book Llama Llama Red Pajama was nothing short of inspiring. Anything special you're reading your younger girls now before bed?
There's a Karma's World book coming out called Daddy and Me and the Rhyme to Be, and that is the one I read before it comes out to the rest of the world. That is the number one book right now. It's fantastic.
Especially at this point in time, it can be as challenging as it is rewarding to raise BIPOC kids. How are you and your wife, Eudoxie, handling it?
The best way to handle it is to be the change you want to see and create a show like Karma's World, where they're able to watch it and it creates dialogue afterwards. They're seeing themselves in a mirror, and how they would deal with certain situations if they've gone through them and if they're about to go through them. That's the absolute best way to give them self-confidence and self-empowerment.
Karma's World premieres Oct. 15 on Netflix.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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