Larenz Tate is so private he doesn’t even have a personal life section on his Wikipedia page. For someone who’s been acting since the age of 10 that says a lot, which is why I was surprised the vertan actor agreed to tape an episode of TV One’s autobiographical series “Uncensored.” I told him as much during a Zoom interview in which he explained he felt the network does a good job of protecting people’s stories, which is why he jumped on board. Still, at the end of the day, he said, “My personal business is my personal business.”
It’s for that reason I anticipate fans will eagerly tune into his episode Sunday night, hoping to gain just a bit more insight into who Larenz Tate is, which he delivers on. “I thought that it would be nice for people to understand my journey and hear me talk about some of my experiences, whether it’s being in the business and Hollywood for three decades or some personal things–my family, my friends.”
Viewers will hear how Tate and his brothers, fellow actors Larron and Lahmard, thought acting was just a way to meet girls when their parents put them in a performing arts school as kids. And how, over time, the 44-year-old began to take his craft seriously, but never himself.
“I’ve always sort of wanted people to know me for my work, and I never got into the industry to be famous,” Tate explained. “Early on, I would always downplay it. I feel like it’s been one of those things that has allowed me to sustain a career for so long because, for me, I’m about the journey. I’m about taking it all in and going the distance as opposed to a sprint. With my career, I kind of want people to know me for that because I put so much time and effort into it.”
So far, the marathon approach has worked out for the Chicago native. Fans still want to see him and Nia Long reunite for a “Love Jones” sequel 23 years after the romantic drama debuted, yet they also love his new characters as well, like Councilman Tate in “Power.” Still, in my opinion, Hollywood hasn’t given Tate the recognition — or the opportunities — he deserves, and he knows it too.
“I placed a different value upon myself than I felt people in Hollywood placed on me,” Tate said. “The movie business has changed quite a bit. I found myself not doing some of the same things that they wanted me to do so there was a long time where you didn’t really see me doing a lot of films because Hollywood switches it up all the time. Once they’re happy with whatever they’ve done they’ll move on to something else, especially when it comes to Black films and Black storytellers and Black experiences.”
That’s particularly disappointing when you’re talking about an actor of Tate’s caliber. But like with so many industries, the issue boils down to one thing: representation. “There’s not a lot of Black men that are really making those decisions. There are not a lot of Black women, people of color, various genders, sexual preferences. I would always tell executives, if you were outside of America and you only looked at Hollywood movies, you would assume that everybody was George Clooney and Julia Roberts in America. [Hollywood] doesn’t really represent what America really looks like or how it really functions.”
To that point, Tate’s entire life has been an outlier. Take the longevity of his 14-year marriage to Tomasina Parrott for instance, which is in stark contrast to what most Hollywood marriages look like. “We’ve been rocking for a long time, 20 years and four children later,” the proud husband and father shared. “I think the important thing is being compatible. A lot of egos have to be checked at the door. We have to find ways to really be a unit in how we gel together and what that one unit, that spirit is.”
Tate admitted at times the unit is a bit more cohesive than others, which makes communication extremely important — particularly calling out certain behaviors. “It’s like, ‘Hey, man! What is that?’ A lot of times it’s a reflection of your upbringing. I started finding out that even with myself or my wife, things that we were probably used to growing up as children or young adults, you begin to bring that into your adult life. And that is just a mentality, how you talk to someone.”
The communication piece, Tate added, is about more than sustaining his marriage, it’s about being a good example for his four boys. “We need some solidarity. They need to see us as a unit. So we can disagree, but it shouldn’t be crazy. If we are going to disagree, let’s do it behind closed doors where it’s just me and you.”
Still, being a good example, Tate pointed out, doesn’t mean being perfect. “My kids need to see all of me, they need to see the nice me, the fun me, they need to see the angry me, they need to see the brother who is ready to tear up stuff, but you have to be able to understand there is a bigger picture, especially when you have children involved. So my sons — we are not going to be wildin’ out and doing crazy things with women where you are toxic, you know calling them crazy names and putting hands. We are not doing all of that.
“My mother always said if you are in a situation and it gets really to a point where it gets physical and all of that then you don’t need to be in it,” he added. “That is one thing we can instill. You don’t want to normalize where it’s a woman hitting on a man, a man hitting on a woman just any of that stuff. We have to unlearn some of those — a lot of those –things that really affected us as a group. My wife and I have a communicating relationship. It’s not easy, but we rockin’. We 20 years in.”
Tune in to the premiere episode of season 3 of “Uncensored” with Larenz Tate on TV One Sunday, September 6 at 10 P.M. ET/9C.