We’ve loved Larenz Tate since he burst on the scene as “O-Dog” in “Menace II Society.” After that the Chicago native starred in films such as “The Inkwell”, “Love Jones”, “Dead Presidents” just to name a few. This time around, Larenz used his theatrical talents to produce, direct and act in the 10-part podcast series that premiered in February titled “Bronzeville.” Set in 1940’s Chicago, a concept that came to Tate when he was working on the film “Ray.”
Tate partnered with Laurence Fishburne to produce “Bronzeville,” which is distributed through their production companies TateMen Entertainment and Cinema Gypsy. The two took on the endeavor when they were unable to secure sponsorship for TV. The cast, along with Fishburne and Tate, includes Wood Harris, Omari Hardwick, Tika Sumpter and Tracee Ellis Ross. In a recent interview, discussed his newest venture. Peep the excerpts below.
On how he came up with the concept for the series:
I played Quincy Jones and got to spend some time with him and being that I am originally from Chicago as well as Jones we began talking about Chicago and he brought up this community on the South Side of Chicago, Bronzeville, running numbers and things of that nature.
On the connection he had with Chicago:
What I realized, is that [Bronzeville] was [one of many] communit[ies] that had established itself all over the country, mainly in the North after the Great Migration, [due to] people from the South coming to places like Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Harlem . . . . Bronzeville was truly like a mecca, a metropolis, [in that it was among] sufficient black communities at a time…
On why the story needs to be told:
And the real engine behind that was the economic infrastructure which was running numbers because the people who ran these numbers or these policies, they called them the Policy Kings and they were the pillars of the community and they decided to invest back into the infrastructure or invest back into the community to create an infrastructure where black folks had our own department stores; we had our own hospitals; we had our own schools, art museums; we had our police department; we had our own churches and grocery stores but also we had a political voice as well. A lot of people on the South Side of Chicago black folks were registered to vote.
We wanted to make sure this was done special, it was done high end, quality, second to none. We hired an Academy Award nominated writer. Went and got a historian. All the right things. We made sure we hired the best sound design, the best musicians to create the best score. We wanted this to really be ‘theater of the mind.’
On how he would explain the podcast to those who haven’t heard it:
This is actors performing as though we were performing in a movie, on a stage at a play or on a TV show but you listen to it.
“Bronzeville” is available every Tuesday on iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud and Radio One/Interactive One and will run through April 11th.