Watch: Could There Be a Gullah Gullah Island Reboot?
Remember when we used to play together in the bright sunny weather? Yeah, so do we.
Starting in 1994, Nickelodeon transported kids to a magical, fictitious island through Gullah Gullah Island. Starring real life couple Ron and Natalie Daise, the series—based on the West African culture Gullah Geechee—taught preschoolers about family, sea critters and kindness through song and dance. (And, of course, they had a little help from a 5-foot polliwog, Binyah Binyah.)
But perhaps more importantly, the show allowed its young viewers to feel represented in a TV landscape that didn't always reflect how the world looked. Unbeknownst to those at home, the stories and songs featured in Gullah Gullah Island mirrored the actual lives of Ron and Natalie. Even their kids Simeon and Sara had roles!
And though they took their final bow in 1998, the family is still educating the world about their culture through their art.
So, just put your foot in your hand—that means hurry up—because E! News sat down with the South Carolina-based couple and you don't want to miss the good things that they've shared.
E! News: Take us back to the beginning. How did Gullah Gullah Island come to life?
Ron Daise: Gullah Gullah Island came to life at a dinner conversation. A producer, Maria Perez-Brown, had come to scout for sights for another show.
Natalie Daise: We were talking about children's TV, and how there's nothing for our older daughter Sara to watch where anyone looks like her. Maria then said, "Nickelodeon is trying to diversify maybe we could do a show about you." We had a meeting with executives with no agent, no manager, never shot anything, never planned anything. By the end of the day, they green-lit the show. That was June 1993, and we were on the air within a year.
E! News: While creating the show, how much input were you able to offer?
RD: We were cultural consultants. Each episode had characters going into the Gullah Gullah Island community. That was our real life.
ND: The parade in the show was the high school band. The makeup lady was my friend who sold Mary Kay. We sat in front of our tape recorder, sang songs and then mailed the tapes. They gave the tapes to their musicians and made music based on our real life. Our kids were in the show because I was nursing Simeon. Where I went, they went.
RD: Peter Lurye, head musician, had written a theme song. I suggested another line that would be more culturally appropriate with a Gullah Geechee expression: "Just take your foot in your hand, that means hurry up." I became a co-writer of the theme song!
Trending Stories1See Harry Styles and Olivia Wilde Enjoy Romantic Vacation in Italy
2See Rob Kardashian's Rare Appearance on The Kardashians3Scott Disick Raises Eyebrows With Remark About Khloe Kardashian’s BodyNickelodeon/Viacom
E! News: When did you realize the show was a hit?
RD: I had an expectation of it doing well. As well as it did? No. People in South America would send us mail saying how much it meant to them. There was someone in Australia who really loved the show. Even now, we get regular communications from people saying they are watching with their children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren.
ND: We did that first season, and, you know, we were just making it up. I remember that first year after it aired, we were at a mall and somebody started yelling, "Uncle Ron!" It was a surprise for me, it really was.