Off-Script: A Fireside Chat With The Tate Brothers

In years past, the ESSENCE Hollywood House has been pivotal in informing creatives about the ins and outs of the entertainment industry, specifically from the Black perspective.

Amidst a group of amazing panelists at this year’s Hollywood House experience, ESSENCE Senior Entertainment Editor Brande Victorian spoke with brothers Larenz Tate, Lahmard Tate and Larron Tate about the inception of their Tatemen Entertainment production company, as well as some of the trials and triumphs they faced along the way.

Photo by: Phylicia J. Munn

The trio’s story began on the westside of Chicago. After their father decided to pursue a higher education in California, the still young boys traveled with him in order to obtain a better quality of life.  Shortly thereafter, they were enrolled in a performing arts school where the brothers were first exposed to the craft of acting.

As their careers progressed, the three encountered prejudice in the entertainment business on different levels. It was both their experiences in the industry and their upbringing that led them to create the Tatemen Production imprint. During the panel, the trio also talked about learning and understanding the legal side of the film industry, and why the practice of nepotism in the Black community is pivotal.

“We eventually got into a space where we were able to tell our stories and our narratives – but it was not easy, and it’s still not easy,” Larenz said of the production company’s humble beginnings. “It’s great when you can come in there and say ‘Look, I have all these great ideas and I want to tell these stories,’ but when you go into rooms where people don’t look like you, or don’t have your experience, it tends to fall on deaf ears.”

Lahmard compounded on his brother’s sentiments, and spoke about the business aspect of entertainment, and the importance of knowing your worth as a talent. It’s these mental reminders that will give you the confidence and sense of gratitude to continue.

Photo by: Phylicia J. Munn

“Have a mission – have a goal,” Lahmard said about aspiring entertainers. “Set yourself a goal, and understand that there is no ceiling in the business of entertainment. I’ve seen people who started in wardrobe that have gone on to become presidents of studios. So, give yourself a gameplan – short term, midterm, and long-term goals.”

Larenz touched on how fame is fleeting, and how we as Black people need more people behind the camera – producers, writers, directors, grips, etc. – because they’re the ones that continue to get and give jobs, making the journey to generational wealth not as difficult.

The trio closed their panel by stressing the point that most of the people that are in power currently do not look like us, and it’s up to us to help change that.

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