As Kenneth, the aide to JJ DiMeo (who has cerebral palsy), Cedric Yarbrough plays the sea of calm in an often-frenetic household on Speechless (airing Fridays on ABC). In person, the towering man gives off the same laid-back vibe. “He’s such a fun comic contrast in that family,” says Tim Doyle, a producer on Speechless. “He is a jovial, oddball presence, but he also has a prospective on it. And he has that wonderful gentle giant quality when dealing with [JJ]. He is just great.
At an ABC event Yarbrough answered our “7 Questions.”
- What movie can you watch over and over and never get tired of?
Tootsie every day, all day.
- What three things do you have to have in your fridge or pantry?
Water, cookies — I’m not that L.A., I’m from Minneapolis and I gotta have my sweets — and Cholula hot sauce.
- If you could invite a handful of people (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would they be?
Bernie Mac was the absolute best. He saw my audition, and I had to play his sister’s fiancé [on The Bernie Mac Show]. Niecy Nash played the sister. He was so generous with me. I need funny people doing their thing. He was one of the most generous. Everybody loved him.
- What were some of the jobs you had before you got into acting?
I worked as a janitor when I was in community college in Minneapolis. I was sweeping the floor, vacuuming, making sure there was no chewing gum on my floors. I was the Genie in Aladdin. I did it on weekends.
- Tell me about a time you were starstruck.
I did Meet the Fockers with [Robert] De Niro and [Dustin] Hoffman.
- What is your most prized possession?
I don’t have a prized possession. I don’t want to say something lame like my books. But from theater, my old books. When I am getting ready for a long break, I like to revisit stuff I learned and get back into it, or it will leave your body if you’re not doing it all the time.
- Once you knew you had a little money to spare, what was your biggest splurge?
I bought my mom a car. She never had anything on her own new. She’s the kind of person who looks out for us so frequently. First, she was very mad, then surprised, then happy.
Speechless airs Fridays at 7:30pmET on ABC