When it was announced earlier this year that a Black-ish spinoff centered around Johnson family matriarch Rainbow Johnson (ESSENCE cover star Tracee Ellis Ross) was in the works, many wondered which lucky actress would land the role of young Rainbow. That actress was Arica Himmel.
Mixed-ish is Himmel’s breakout role. The 14-year-old actress has previously appeared on the CBS series God Friended Me, and opposite Amy Sedaris in Thanksgiving, but Mixed-ish puts Himmel front and center.
The Black-ish spinoff picks up in 1985 as Bow and her family—Tika Sumpter and Mark-Paul Gosselaar play Rainbow’s parents, while Ethan William Childress and Mykal-Michelle Harris play her siblings—adjust to life in the suburbs after a police raid forces them to leave their commune.
“Working on set with Tika and Mark-Paul, I’m always taking from them that they’re professional, they’re hardworking, but they’re polite and they do what needs to be done,” Himmel tells ESSENCE. “I think I’m so fortunate to be working with Mark-Paul, especially because he’s been in this industry for a while. When he was on Saved By the Bell he was just a teenager like me. So I feel like that’s really cool.”
The young actress has also received a few pointers from Ross, who narrates the series.
“Tracee has been a mentor to me. She’s gone over the scripts with me and just watching her presence in real life, she’s got this positive attitude. She’s upbeat. She has that comedic timing like Rainbow Johnson,” she says.
There may be an additional castmember Himmel could learn a little from.
In August, executive producer Karin Gist said there could be a possible guest appearance from Mariah Carey. The singer croons the show’s theme song and Gist told Entertainment Weekly that the iconic singer has hinted at the possibility of appearing on the series.
“She’s wanting to do an episode, so hopefully that can work,” Gist said.
Himmel is excited by the idea, adding that Carey could play a teacher or “someone who teaches Rainbow something [valuable].”
Mixed-ish airs Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.