Rodney Barnes is an award-winning writer and executive producer who has worked with Chris Rock since Everybody Hates Chris was created in 2005. Tonight [Sunday, February 28] Barnes is working right alongside his longtime friend Rock as they prepare for what looks to be an historic evening at the Academy Awards, tackling the #OscarsSoWhite issue and more.

We caught up with Barnes exclusively, right as the ceremony is getting ready to start.

What can we look forward to from Chris tonight?

“A great show that will challenge the issue at hand.”

Are you working on the script for the opening monologue and making changes up until the show goes live?

“Yes, we are.”

Is there anything Chris or the writers wanted to say in the opening monologue and throughout the night deemed “too much” and left out?

“No, I believe it’ll be an honest reflection of the host’s opinions.”

After working with Chris for over a decade, can he still surprise you?

“He surprises me by the moment.”

What’s one important take-away for the evening you hope viewers connect to?

“I hope viewers see that change is coming. Due to the pressure applied from us as a community, I do believe things will move in a positive direction.”