When I ask Marcus Scribner to teach me some Gen-Z slang, I instantly regret it. There’s nothing quite like the slightly mocking, certainly entertained roar of laughter from a hip teenager to remind you that you are no longer one of them. I learn that adding an article renders words directly uncool: “No, no, no,” he graciously corrects my apparently hilarious use of the new terminology. “That slaps. Like that is actively slapping.” And saying them twice, really fast, has the opposite effect: “For real, for real,” which he says so quickly it’s barely distinguishable. “It just means for real, but like…twice.”
Deducing 19-year old Scribner to a Gen-Z hype boy would be off-base. He’s got the slang (for real, for real), the swag (the Off-White ‘Vulcanized’ Cons), but he’s also got a starring role as Jr. on the hit TV show Black-ish. Refreshingly, he’s as normal as normal gets these days. But with multiple projects—spanning feature and streaming productions—on the horizon and starting as a freshman at USC in the fall, his spot is about to blow up.
Marcus wears jacket by Cos, shirt by Huf, pants by Necessity Sense, model’s own shoes, jewelry by Jonas Studio
You’re just coming off a gap year before starting university. What’s this past year been like for you?
It’s been a lot of personal projects, press, shoots—a lot of freedom. It’s interesting being on a gap year, not having school and just working. It’s a pretty [different] switch up—so, it’s taken some getting used to.
For so many kids, starting university represents freedom, independence—you’re leaving the nest. Are you excited?
I’m pretty pumped. It should be a great experience. [College has] been something I’ve dreamed of; one of my goals.
Being in the movie industry, my dad comes with me, like, everywhere—a lot of meeting locations for work and things like that. We have a close relationship. So, who knows if I go on campus or stay at home. We’ll see. My goal was to always focus on work and school at the same time, so LA was the spot.
Obviously, our definition of normal has shifted a lot over the past few years. Social media has shone a light but also given a platform to younger kids who are saying, ‘hey, we can do more than just be young.’ That said, you grew up on the other side of normal. Are there ever times that you wished you had a different experience?
No, not particularly. I feel like I’ve had a pretty cool, unique experience. I went to public school for most of my life—I went to [high school] for part of my freshman year then ended up having to start online homeschool which is pretty crazy for me, having [had] the normal classroom vibes and your teachers and all your friends there. It was quite the moment. It was definitely an interesting adjustment but I’ve gotten used to working and doing school at the same time and focusing on everything at once. I don’t regret a thing.
I think it’s important to look back and acknowledge that you’ve had a pretty meta experience in growing up—you and your character Jr being the same age—you’ve grown both on and off the screen. What was that experience like?
It was interesting. Because you get the documentation of yourself growing up that not a lot of other people have. People across the country—around the world even [watch the show]—so it’s definitely been a cool experience. People will come up to me and be like ‘wow I didn’t know you were this tall’ because they’re looking at Jr from the first season who’s like 14 years old, super different than I am now, which is cool to see the differences.
I’m really thankful also to a lot of our show writers for allowing the characters to grow up and experience life. In a lot of comedies, the characters are made stagnant and kind of have the same punch line, same attitude towards everything. So it’s been cool to grow up outside of the character and bring my own unique flavors to that.
Marcus wears jacket by Dim Mak, shirt by Krost, pants by Citizens of Humanity, shoes by Giuseppe Zanotti, jewelry by Jonas Studio
Do you feel like your real life influenced on-screen and vise-versa?
Sometimes. It’s very easy to do that, but I kind of separated the two worlds because there’s definitely a lot more—Jr is more high-energy in a way. There are a lot of differences and a lot of energy has to be put into Jr to make him happen. So I feel like there are some things that kind of bleed through [from real life]—which is like the swagger [laughs]. I’m kidding. We’re really two different characters are this point.
I love that more and more the creative industries are becoming about shaping your own path. Ya know, there’s not just one prescriptive way to do it. That said, it’s only normal for us to take inspiration from those who came before us. Who are some of your idols?
I love the career of Leonardo DiCaprio and the way that he formed his career from young actor to adult actor; he’s really done it with grace and [I admire] his big Oscar-worthy performances. Also, Michael B. Jordan: He’s done so much in the game and it’s been great to see that payoff. And actor/creators like Jordan Peele or Donald Glover. I have so much inspiration.
As fo fashion icons, Russell Westbrook: I just love his [I don’t care] attitude towards the fashion game. He wears whatever he wants.
What kind of path would you like your career to take?
Definitely moving into the feature side is what I’ve been working on a lot. And developing a lot of my own projects, getting behind the camera, being a producer, getting a say-so in the final cuts and the storyline and really getting into the creative process. I see that for my future. Like every teenage boy, I’d love to be in a Marvel film. I love superheroes and fantasy and things like that. Also, playing Spider-Man would be sick.
Where do you find your creative energy? What gets you going?
For me, it’s always about the characters. But also, like, fantasy novels and things like that. I like to use my imagination a lot. Originally, I started doing acting around the age of seven, it was just something fun to do. Then I kind of fell in love with the craft eventually and kept on working at it and having fun with it. It just kind of came, you know.
Between celebrity engagements and social media, you have a BIG platform. Do you ever feel pressured or passioned to use that platform for activism?
I definitely feel passioned. I don’t really think there’s a pressure for it. I feel like there are plenty of people out there just living their life and they have large social media followings and might not use it for things, which is perfectly fine, let them live their lives how they will. But I feel that given this platform, I want to use it to make a difference and to speak out and kind of make my voice heard and my opinions matter. So, I did a pretty big push on the voting and I did something with the DNC and I feel like our voter turnout for [ages] 18-24 increased immensely. It was cool to see the power in our voices when we unite, which is kind of the platform I was trying to drive.
Recently, I got to go to Washington D.C. and I was one of the keynote speakers at the National Foster Youth Institute Luncheon that was hosted by a ton of congresspeople and led by Congresswoman Karen Bass. I had a great time over there and I feel like that’s an issue that’s not brought up enough and I’m really passionate about. Those are causes that are close to my heart and I care about.
Marcus wears jacket and shirt by Necessity Sense, pants by Krost, shoes by Giuseppe Zanotti, jewelry by Jonas Studio
Switching gears here. Let’s talk about personal style. What are some of your go-to styling secrets?
Oh okay, alright! Well, I got some stuff that’s pretty awesome. So, right now, this spring season, I feel like for girls it’s a lot easier and apparent out there in the media like ‘what to wear’ for spring/summer fashion. But for guys, a lot of our fashion is always layering—layers, layers, layers. But what do you do when it’s hot? Okay, boys, I’ve got a solution.
Cuffing the pants—I’m telling you, pant cuffing right now is like, it’s the season of pant cuffing. Every single jeans that I have. It instantly allows for airflow and then it brings like a carefree breezy spring look—pair it with a simple shirt to try to keep it easy. Or you can do a short-sleeve button-up and do a white shirt underneath and do a loose tuck with like a cool belt and if you wanna be super edgy, like, some rings or something. I feel like spring fashion has been really interesting because winter fashion is kind of easier to do because you can throw on some layers—a crewneck, a sweatshirt, and you can instantly have a look. I’ve been more into streetwear lately.
Or we could do something nautical—like shorts—sailor shorts that cut right above the knee. And you can pair that with a simple shirt or a loose button-up that you kind of leave a little bit open. Show some chest hair to keep it poppin’.
How would you describe your personal style?
I’m definitely a streetwear person. A lot of sweatpants—my favorite brand is Off-White, for sure. I love everything that Virgil Abloh is doing over there. Deconstructed is my vibe, for sure. I’ve been getting into a little bit of like Japanese techwear, cargo pants and dressing it up. But also like the skatewear, with the Vans and the cuffed jeans with the white socks and that kind of look. It’s definitely versatile—I pull from a lot of different looks. I can dress it up and dress it down, it just depends.
Favorite brands? Besides Off-White
I’m super into Cactus Plant Flea Market—it’s a brand that’s on the rise that’s being slept on at the moment. I also like Commes des Garcons, it’s pretty sick. Some basics like Nike—those are go-tos always. Madewell men has been pretty sick. They’ve done a lot of simple tees that I’ve been including in the spring wardrobe mix—very picnic vibes.
A single favorite piece?
It’s definitely gonna be a shoe because I’m a shoe person. I already know what it is. It’s my Off-White vulcanized converse. That’s the crown jewel of my collection. You can pair those with anything. You change the vibe of the shoe depending on what sock you wear because they’re kind of translucent.
The shoes that I wear the most are probably my white Air Force Ones. They go with everything.
Marcus wears jacket by Filling Pieces, t-shirt by Krost
Oh yeah, you gotta keep it classic. But no creases.
Exactly [laughs]. Then once you get them beat up, you can repurpose them with some paint and stuff.
Where do you get your style inspiration?
Just recently, one of my friends hooked me up on Pinterest. I’ve created a fashion board over there, which is kinda cool. I look at YouTube videos. And just kinda the general fashion community through Instagram; I’ll see, like, Virgil’s page and see what’s going on over at Louis Vuitton with the new collection. Just kind of exploring. There’s no particular inspiration or reason that I do that—it’s just an amalgamation of ideas.
Pinterest can be a black hole, honestly. The other day I was making a board for living room rugs and 20 minutes later I’m giving my dog an artisanal haircut.
[Laughs] It’s a really dangerous age.
Ok, so. I have a sister your age (she just turned 20) and like half the stuff she says goes over my head bc y’all have your own lingo. Can you teach me some slang?
Oh yeah, I’ve got a few good ones. ‘No cap:’ basically means no lie. Like, ‘no cap the new Off-white drop is gonna be deeshed. No cap, I just lost my wallet this morning.’ There’s another one, ‘that slaps.’ Like that is actively slapping. Trying to think of another one—oh, ‘for real, for real’. It’s kind of a Haha Davis thing—you know him? He’s a comedian who does memes and to emphasize things you say it twice. Like “oh you’re cold cold, like for real cold.” So “For real for real, it just means for real, but like…twice”. [laughs] It has a natural flow when you use it in your vocabulary like it’s hard to explain it. It’s like an urban dictionary kinda situation.
I’m trying to get hip, but honestly, nothing makes you feel old like using ‘that slaps’ incorrectly.
But I feel like it’s kinda cool, because older terminology is coming back, too. Like we call people chief now. How you feeling, chief? Like, that’s kinda cool.