John Amos is best known for playing no-nonsense father James Evans Sr. on the classic 1970s sitcom Good Times. While he was eventually let go, he went on to bounce back with memorable roles in the original Roots miniseries, and later Coming to America.
In a new interview with Sway in the Morning, the actor shares exactly why he was fired from his hit television show, saying his desire to make Good Times more authentic rubbed producers the wrong way.
“The truth of it was when the show first started, we had no African-American writers on the show, and some of the attitudes they had written, as per my character and, frankly, for some of the other characters as well, caused me to say, ‘Uh uh, we can’t do this, we can’t do that.’ And they’d say, ‘What do you mean we can’t do this?'”
Amos continued, “They’d go on about their credits and the rest of that and I’d look at each and every one of them and say, ‘Well, how long have you been Black? That just doesn’t happen in the community. We don’t think that way. We don’t act that way. We don’t let our children do that.'”
The industry vet admitted he didn’t express his grievances in the most professional manner, which resulted in his character being killed off, and him getting the boot.
“I left because I was told that my services were no longer needed because I had become a ‘disruptive element.’ In other words, I didn’t have the diplomacy that I think I’ve cultivated over the last 10 or 15 years,” Amos confessed. “Being born in Newark, raised in East Orange, I had a way of voicing my differences against the script that weren’t acceptable to the creative staff. I mean, the writers got tired of having their lives threatened over jokes.”
The actor went on, “So Norman [Lear] had called me one day and said, ‘John, I’ll share two things with you: The good news is the show has been picked up for another 24 more episodes’—which was a given because we were in the top 10—’The bad news is that you won’t be with us.’ So there was a long, long pause and Norman said, ‘Are you still there?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m still here.’ But I wasn’t. I was no longer with the show.”
Check out the full interview below.
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.