CONCORD — When she was younger, as a child in Concord, Carol Barbee thought she might be a novelist.
Instead, she’s had quite a successful, prolonged career writing in another form.
Barbee, a Central Cabarrus High School alumnus, was the lead writer and showrunner for Netflix’s newest television series, “Raising Dion,” which premiered Friday, Oct. 4.
All nine hourlong episodes of the first season have been released.
“I’m so ready for it to be out in the world and for people to be able to see it,” Barbee said. “I’m really proud of it. The show is the origin story of a superhero from the point of view of his mom, which you never see.”
“Raising Dion” is sci-fi drama based on a comic book and short film written by Dennis Lui.
The series is taken from the perspective of a single, widowed woman whose second-grade son possesses superhero powers.
The movie includes actor Michael B. Jordan in a recurring role, as the woman’s seemingly deceased husband.
“It’s kind of a love letter to parenting and the importance of being loved and having guidance,” Barbee said. “The kid is adorable, and there’s danger and magic and Michael B. Jordan. There’s something there for everybody.”
Making ‘Raising Dion’
Barbee adapted a screenplay and pitched the project to Netflix in October 2016.
She said Netflix bought the concept and brought in writers to expand the short film into a television series.
She stayed with the Netflix television series as the lead writer and executive producer. She wrote the pilot for “Raising Dion,” along with several episodes.
“We shot it in Atlanta, and I was there on set the whole time, then we came back, and I was in post-production editing until literally like three weeks ago,” Barbee said. “This is my baby. I’ve been there since the beginning.”
The release of the straight-to-series “Raising Dion” came nearly three years after the idea was originally pitched. The series was filmed in 2018, and the trailer was released last month.
Now that “Raising Dion” has been released, Barbee is focusing on her next projects.
She is the consulting producer and writer on the Netflix romantic comedy, “Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares,” which will be released in 2020.
Barbee said she is also working on projects with Sony and CBS, along with the possibility of a second season for “Raising Dion.”
“When I got into writing, I started writing for television fairly quickly, and I just love it,” Barbee said. “I’ve been doing it for about 20 years, and I became a showrunner about five years into being a writer.”
‘I love writing; I love producing’
Barbee got her start as an actress in the TV series “L.A. Law” and “Columbo.” She played roles on “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” “Blossom,” “Die Hard 2” and “Beverly Hills 90210,” among others.
However, her passion is in writing and producing, particularly in television.
She has written episodes for “Hawaii Five-O,” “Jericho,” “Falling Skies,” “Providence” and “Judging Amy.”
“I love writing; I love producing,” Barbee said. “I feel like I get to be 100 percent creative this way, and honestly, I work a whole lot more as a writer than as an actor. I think I’m better at it.”
‘I love my home, and I am very proud of it’
Barbee lives in Santa Monica, California, but doesn’t forget where she comes from — Concord.
The daughter of Phyllis Canupp Barbee and the late William Clarence Barbee tries to visit Concord as much as time allows. She has a brother, Jeffrey Barbee, and sister, Cath Barbee, along with nieces and nephews in the area.
“My family is everything. I’ve always been really close to my family, and I go back home all the time,” Barbee said. “I used to say, ‘I don’t stay special for very long if I don’t get back to North Carolina.’ I just have to go home and be with the people who have known me and loved me my whole life. I love my home, and I am very proud of it.”
Barbee earned a theater-arts degree from Wake Forest University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from UCLA.
Growing up, she was active as a singer and in the local theater.
One summer, she said, she played Dorothy at the Land of Oz Theme Park in Beech Mountain.
“When I was a kid, I used to tell people I was going to be a writer, but I think I intended to be a novelist, but I never really thought about writing television or movies,” Barbee said.
Barbee says her theater teacher at Central Cabarrus, Marjorie Hudson, was one of her biggest influences as a teenager.
“She was really instrumental in my growth, I think as a writer, eventually, but certainly getting me into acting,” Barbee said.
“She really ignited my love of plays and theater, and she would cast me, and I would be in her shows. She was always very encouraging to me. It all started in North Carolina, but Marjorie Hudson was a big influence on me.”