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Trevor Jackson & Diggy Simmons Prepare For Growth In 'Grown-ish' Premiere

The two actors are on their grown man-ish.

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For the leading fellas of Freeform’s college comedy-drama, grown-ish, graduation season is quickly approaching, forcing Aaron (Trevor Jackson), Doug (Diggy Simmons), Vivek (Jordan Buhat), and Luca (Luka Sabbat) to come to grips with what life after Cal-U will have in store. As the beaus find themselves crossed between self-induced drama and campus tea, the forthcoming season will bring the cohort of lads closer to the reality of the end of one chapter and the start of something new.

Through the ups and downs of managing hook-ups, mending broken hearts — and a few egos, while discovering who they are as Gen Z figureheads, their stories each paint, in broad strokes, the sort of illustration that arch the boyish behaviors of an adolescent, with the real-life decisions that most guys come face to face with as they cross over into manhood.

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For Trevor Jackson, his radical, pro-Black portrayal of Aaron continues the second half of season 4 having to come to grips with the aftermath of a luau party that turned ugly, where he and Luca (Luka Sabbat) got Lei-ed and caught a fade. With emotions and testosterone levels high, it’s not always easy to see things clearly, so fans will be pleased to unpack how each character manages conflict when choosing the high road isn’t always the easiest choice.

As the grown-ish actor reflects on his character's progression, Trevor shares his sentiments on what it’s been like to play a character who’s actively exploring his vulnerabilities through introspection. “I think it’s awesome, I think it’s true, and I think it’s honest.” With that, Jackson meditates on just how much his own journey of self-discovery as a young Black man, mirrors that of his on-screen persona. “I think I’ve definitely experienced similar situations as Aaron — you kind of know what you want to do from a young age, but then you just start dealing with being human and realizing that at [some] point what you wanted might change, and who you are might change,” he tells xoNecole.

"You kind of know what you want to do from a young age, but then you just start dealing with being human and realizing that at some point what you wanted might change, and who you are might change."

As seen in the trailer for season 4B teases, Aaron’s successes as a socially-involved TA are opening doors that could put distance between him and his love interest, Zoey (Yara Shahidi). Although it’s not always easy to step into something new when what you’ve known lies within your comfort zone, Trevor tells xoNecole how the toughest choices can lead to the greatest growth. “[When] you’re younger, decisions were made for you but when everything lies on your shoulders, and you’re responsible for your own life, it definitely hits home a litter harder.”

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As much as college can serve as a test drive to pre-adulthood, there are some matters of the heart that you want to learn and grow from before the pressures of real adulthood kick in. For the charming and mildly-toxic Doug, played by Diggy Simmons, balancing friendships and a new flame, while attempting to keep things cordial between his ex, Jazz (Chloe Bailey) in the show, brings up the question of what it takes to prioritize your relationship so that all parties, including yourself, are considered.

Still, as Simmons shares, “You have to put yourself first, especially coming out of a relationship.”

He continues, “All of us do that - we have the old saying of, 'I gotta focus on myself,’ but that’s a true thing.” Being that he’s had practice with this balancing act through his character, Doug, it comes from a place of deposited wisdom when he shared how setting parameters around your relationships can ensure the best possible results for you, and all parties involved.

Diggy tells xoNecole, “I think when cultivating a new relationship, that isn’t so committed yet or doesn’t have a title, you have to create your own boundaries that you're comfortable with and see if that person is comfortable with those same boundaries that you hold for yourself.”

Watch new episodes of grown-ish on Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on Freeform and the next day on Hulu.

Featured image by Freeform/Jabari Jacobs

Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx are one of Hollywood’s best father-daughter duos. They’ve teamed up together on several projects including Foxx’s game show Beat Shazam where they both serve as executive producers and often frequent red carpets together. Corinne even followed in her father’s footsteps by taking his professional last name and venturing into acting starring in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times as Thelma.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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