‘Love Jones’ is ‘therapy,’ ‘more than’ Hollywood ever dreamed : TheGrio
Larenz Tate is ready to share his life in detail.
The 44-year-old Power star unpacks his journey from teen ’90s star to Hollywood icon in the premiere episode of TV’s One Uncensored. In anticipation of the debut episode, theGrio sat down with Tate to discuss some of his biggest Hollywood moments, including 1997’s Love Jones, which he says “has done so much more than what Hollywood could even dream or thought it would do.”
“We didn’t [realize it was going to a cultural phenomena]. We was just happy that we were doing something a little different,” Tate said about the film. “I was happy to have the opportunity to kind of feel like a leading man, if you will. We didn’t have a lot of young leading men and young leading ladies that were Black, and telling stories where the only thing that gets hurt in a Black story was somebody’s heart, as opposed to, you know, ‘Shoot them up, gun, pop, pop, pop.’ All that stuff.”
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He continued, “The setting in Chicago, my hometown, as a backdrop and the fact that we’re dealing with intellectuals and creative people and artists. We’re dealing with real emotion and relationships. I was just like, ‘I hope our core audiences in our community will see it in and enjoy it,’ but more than anything I was hoping that the TV studio would market it properly.”
Tate went on to share that studio behind Love Jones “just didn’t know” how to sell the film at the time and “hadn’t done anything like this before,” resulting in an underperforming box office. Regardless of Love Jones‘ financial performance, Tate said that he feels a strong sense of pride in the film, which has defined Black love for a generation of fans.
“In retrospect, it may not made the impact that they wanted at the box office, but over 20-plus years it has done so much more for people,” the actor explained. “As people watch that movie over and over they make a connection with it. It’s been a life coach for people, it’s has been therapy for people–that Love Jones movie has done so much more than what Hollywood could even dream or thought it would do. And that, to me, is the greatest of all. That’s better than any box office numbers because we are able to actually touch people’s spirits, their minds and their consciousness. It was just like, you couldn’t ask for a better way for it to be laid out, in my opinion.”
As a young actor in the ’90s, Tate preferred film over television roles because he “always felt that television, especially when it came to network TV, you were pretty much in a box.” Now—following his run on Power and the emergence of the the “Golden Age of Television”—Tate is singing a different tune.
“When I got a chance to do movies [like Menace II Society], there was just a little bit more freedom. What I realized is that the movies that I was doing were told by people that I related to and that looked like me and had my same sort of experiences—some of my ideas and my thoughts on life—and that felt really refreshing,” Tate explained to theGrio.
“Now, we’re coming full circle with regards to, let’s say, a TV show like Power. I had been looking to do something in the TV space like that,” he continued. “A lot of film actors are starting to go back to television because there’s so many different platforms and the writing—it really comes down to the storyteller. And Courtney Kemp is our showrunner, the creator of the show who is an incredible writer.”
Tate also touched on his thoughts surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement while speaking with theGrio. The father of four young sons, the actor takes the issue of police brutality very personally and isn’t afraid to vocalize his opinions.
“It’s such a disconnect, that they normalize this behavior,” he shared. “We have to go beyond just police reform—police brutality, specifically with black people, needs to be eradicated. Everybody understands what’s going on. …But for whatever it is, whether it’s the current administration in the White House that is condoning [this behavior], or at least feeling like, you know, police are above the law and that extreme force is okay. It’s not okay. These are the people that—with our tax dollars—we pay. They’re paid to protect us, not to murder us.”
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He concluded, “I feel like as a father of four Black boys—beautiful young kings amazing, wonderful—that their life, their bodies, everything is so valued. [They have] so much value to me and my mine, and our community and our people and those who understand it. My wife and I, when we have conversations with them, we’re certain that their white counterparts and our white counterparts and families aren’t having these same conversations. …So anytime that I can talk about that [I do], because it’s a real thing for us.”
Tate’s premiere episode of Uncensored airs on Sunday, Sept. 6 at 10/9C on TV One. Fans can watch theGrio‘s interview with Tate above.
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