Defining Kerry Coddett succinctly is a challenge. She’s a stand-up comedian, writer, actress and activist, not to mention a former choreographer, clothing designer and poet. This multihyphenate Caribbean American force from Brooklyn has recently taken over TV screens on Showtime’s Flatbush Misdemeanors. To some, it may seem that Coddett has too much going on. To millennials and members of Gen Z, it’s #lifegoals to see someone tap into so many passions and talents. The common thread to Coddett’s purpose-driven career is the need for self-expression and a deep love of community. Read on to learn more about the rising star.
Your comedy show, Brooklyn, Stand Up, has built your reputation and brought in many well-known names in the comedy space. How did you start it?
Kerry Coddett: I learned early on that building your own stage, literally and figuratively, can be the best way to create a platform for yourself. I knew that producing my own show would give me an opportunity to strengthen my chops, grow my fan base, work with comics whom I greatly admire and learn about the business aspect of show business. Before starting Brooklyn, Stand Up, I had never even hosted a show before, but I always admired what Martin Lawrence did for Def Comedy Jam. Having a great 5- or 10-minute set is awesome, but I also wanted to be able to improvise, be funny on the spot and interact with the audience. I created Brooklyn, Stand Up with those goals in mind.
How did you get on board as a writer and actress on the show Flatbush Misdemeanors?
KC: I played Kevin’s love interest in the web series back in 2017, and ever since then I’ve been a huge fan of the show and have been following its success through the festival circuit. During the pandemic, I worked on a new writing sample that was finished just in time for Flatbush Misdemeanors submissions, and I was selected to join the writing team. I was so grateful to be a part of the room and it was way too early to know whether or not I was in the running to play Jasmine, but before I started work every day, I would look in the mirror and repeat, “I am Jasmine. I am Jasmine.” Then I would just go into the room and work—with my writer’s hat fully on. Once the room was almost over and we started casting roles, I was asked to audition for Jasmine and boom. Two credits. One show.
How has the response been to the show so far?
KC: The response has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s weird because even though I’m a writer on the show, I still feel like the fan who binged it in 2017 and told all her friends to watch it. I’m just excited to see everyone else’s excitement. And mostly, I’m happy that my West Indian parents finally have something they can brag to their friends about. Whew!
As a native of Brooklyn and East Flatbush, do you feel a certain level of responsibility representing the area?
KC: Hell, yeah. I think when you’re a content creator, there’s this awareness in the back of your head that if you don’t get it right Black Twitter will drag you, which I think makes us feel more pressure to make sure we’re being aware of how we’re depicting things. But throughout this entire process, it wasn’t Black Twitter that was on my mind so much as it was West Indian people. West Indians do not play. They will talk about your face to your actual face. There was no way I was trying to piss off Tanty Patsy and Uncle Junior.
Were there certain requirements to feel like you were showcasing the neighborhood of Flatbush authentically?
KC: Filming in Flatbush was a must. There’s no place you could film that looks even remotely similar, so getting key shots of Flatbush Avenue, Caton Avenue and Erasmus High School were must-haves. We needed to be sure we had cast members from Brooklyn. Brooklyn accents and vibes are hard to fake. Our stylist was also from Flatbush, so if you look at the way we’re all dressed, you’ll know one of us did it. The music, the art used in the show, the designers—a lot of folks were from Brooklyn. Kevin Iso (co-creator, executive producer and one of the leads), especially, wanted to make sure that we supported Brooklyn designers, like Vinnies Styles; local Brooklyn artists, like Ron Bass; and music from actual Caribbean producers, like 1st Klase, throughout the show.
There’s also the stuff that goes on in the background that as a New York native, I never really noticed as being super bizarre, but once people point it out, you’re like, “Ohhhh, yeah...there are sirens everywhere interrupting people’s conversations. We gotta have that.” Or the man in the hallway that’s just singing outside his girlfriend’s door. We wanted to show how closely people live in New York City. That you could be alone, but you’re always kind of in the middle of somebody else’s story. And end of the day, no one cares.
It feels like all eyes are on Flatbush as a neighborhood right now. Do you agree?
KC: People from Flatbush are getting successful in their respective careers and then making sure we tell everybody, “Hey, where we’re from is popping. There’s way more dopeness to be found there.” I don’t know that mainstream has fully picked up on the vibe that is the ’Bush, but I also don’t know that I’m fully mad at that. I kind of like the “if you know, you know” of it all. There is this fear that the more people discover Flatbush, the more gentrified it’ll become and the more its cultural touchstones will become diluted.
Aside from your work in comedy, you are also co-creator of Kwanzaa Crawl. Tell us more about that platform.
KC:Kwanzaa Crawl is my baby! No matter what happens in my professional life, Kwanzaa Crawl will always be the project that I’m most proud of. Started in 2016, Kwanzaa Crawl is the largest one-day event in support of Black-owned businesses. It’s an annual bar crawl with over 5,000 participants and 35 Black-owned bars and restaurants in Brooklyn and Harlem, and in 2019, we brought in over $500,000 for the Black businesses involved.
Kwanzaa Crawl arose in response to police brutality and out of a need to empower Black people socioeconomically, while fostering fellowship and community in neighborhoods where our businesses were being displaced due to gentrification. The seven principles of Kwanzaa underscore the myriad ways in which Black people can survive and thrive if we continue to work together. Having an annual crawl on the first day of Kwanzaa allows us to start the new year off with positive intentions for ourselves, our families and our community.
What is up next for you?
My own half-hour scripted TV show, a stand-up special, a one-woman show, a short film, a podcast or two, a worldwide Kwanzaa Crawl, a vacation and slow dancing with somebody’s son in a backyard bashment.
What are some of your favorite spots around NYC to get inspiration or hang out?
KC: To hang out and just be surrounded by good food, good people and good vibes. I love to go to BK9, Charm Bar, The Rogers Garden, Brooklyn Blend, Ode to Babel, Tilly’s, Brooklyn Beso, BK Brew. Basically, if it’s Black owned and in Brooklyn, chances are you’ll see me there. For creative inspiration, I’m obsessed with Governors Island. It’s my absolute favorite place in NYC to explore, get lost in a book or just lay out and catch a cool breeze.
Stream season 1 of Flatbush Misdemeanors on Showtime. All images in article © 2021 Showtime Networks Inc. All rights reserved.