Lawrence H. Robinson On ‘Sistas’, Resilience & Why He Prefers To Do The Catering In Relationships
Lawrence H. Robinson is having a moment. Like, a really good moment.
And I'm not just saying that because he recently made his well-received debut on the new BET hit seriesSistas. Nor am I saying that because he's got a new movie slated to come out around Christmas time that promises to be equal parts feel-good and funny. No, the moment Lawrence is having is one of those rare moments, where your dream slowly but surely starts turning into your reality. It's a little after 5pm when our call connects and the Philly native is in good spirits. He's inviting and easy during our conversation. (Easy on the eyes too, am I right ladies?) But as he begins to recount his journey to me in our half-hour chat, one thing becomes abundantly clear: Lawrence is a man full of persistence and perseverance. He doesn't believe in giving up. And while humble beginnings working at the airport and going to community college may have been enough to deter any other person from pursuing their heart's desire, for Lawrence, it only fanned the flame for him to keep going. And that's exactly what he did. "I've always known I wanted to do something in entertainment, ever since I was a kid," he tells xoNecole. "I just didn't know what my path was going to be."
"I didn't have a bunch of money growing up. I wasn't the smartest kid growing up but I've always been super hardworking. And if I could look back, I would just say my drive is the same. That never changed."
So how did he go from handling bags to securing bags with BET & Tyler Perry? xoNecole recently got the chance to chat with the Sistas star to find out.
xoNecole: Describe your character Chris [in ‘Sistas’].
Lawrence H. Robinson: Chris is in his early thirties and had a rough childhood growing up. He was raised by his aunt, but she passed away when he was 16. So from 16 on, he got caught up in the streets and eventually went to jail for attempted murder. After he got out, he opened his own business doing construction and now he has a million dollars in his bank account. He's a solid, good brother dating an older woman who's being played by the legend, Shari Belafonte. And he's basically getting introduced to Zach, who's played by Devale Ellis, to try to get him on the right track.
Did you always know acting and modeling was going to be in your future or was this something you kind of stumbled upon?
You know, I was actually like Zach [in the show], Devale Ellis' character--I worked at the airport for six years. I was just a hard-working dude from Philly who was just a baggage handler, but I always wanted more. So in the midst of that, I took acting as an elective because I really wanted to do it. Then I took Tasha Smith's workshop in 2011, moved to New York in 2012, and then I booked my first commercial with Diddy for Macy's. I made a lot of money and I thought that was going to be my way in. I ended up getting fired from my job on purpose so I could pursue acting full-time and I went on that. So I've always been into acting but modeling and acting go hand in hand for me.
I was still modeling like for Macy's and Pepsi, a lot of the commercial stuff. I wanted to be an editorial model but I guess I had a more commercial look. But fast forward to now, I'm in LA and still chasing it, doing the modeling and the social media stuff--that's always going to be there but my passion was always TV and film. I'm just grateful for Tyler Perry for giving me my first character.
What have you learned about yourself thus far throughout your journey?
I've definitely learned that I'm resilient. And that I don't believe in the word 'no'. The word 'no' doesnt doesnt scare me, I'm not afraid of it. It makes me want to keep going until I get [a] 'yes'. Some people are really intimidated by that word. And I love when people underestimate me, I love that. I've always been one of those people that you may see me on social media flexing and working that market but I've always [been] in the background taking acting classes. So I knew when it was time for me to hop on-screen, I knew that I was going to be invested and my character was going to make an impression because I've always been willing to do the work.
Let’s switch it up a bit and talk relationships now. How are you handling dating during quarantine? Are you doing the whole Zoom dates and...
I actually haven't been on Zoom but I've had a couple Facetime calls. It was random though! I've just been watching shows and I'll go through my DMs sometimes and if I see something that catches my attention-- then we'll have a conversation. So it's just been a lot of casual conversations and a few 'Facetime dates', but for the most part I've just been dating myself. And really trying to figure out what I want for my life. Now that I'm entering my dream world and my dream is becoming my work--I have to figure out what's next? You know: do I want to get married? Do I want to have another kid? Do I want another serious relationship? I've just been questioning myself and having some conversations internally.
Courtesy of Lawrence H. Robinson
"Now that I'm entering my dream world and my dream is becoming my work--I have to figure out what's next? You know: do I want to get married? Do I want to have another kid? Do I want another serious relationship? I've just been questioning myself and having some conversations internally."
Gotcha. So when it comes to red flags, what are some major ones you look for when it comes to dating?
It's definitely a red flag if you're not a kid person. Another one is if you don't believe in God. Everything I do is based on my faith. I respect everybody but I can't imagine having a conversation and going back to my faith and you don't believe in God. That's uncomfortable to me. Another one would also be lack of drive. You have to be clear about what you want in life and actively go towards it. You don't have to be an actress or in Hollywood--I would love to date somebody who's not doing exactly what I do. But you definitely need to be trying to work towards something and know who you are.
Understood. I know you have a little one, your son Aiden. Has fatherhood affected what you look for or what you’re attracted to when it comes to dating?
Absolutely. You have to be into kids and like kids. And you have to ask about my kid. You can't check on me and not check on Aiden. My son is the number 1 thing that makes me happy. So you need to know that my son is the highlight of my life and if you're not invested in that--you may as well go the other way.
Courtesy of Lawrence H. Robinson
"My son is the number 1 thing that makes me happy. So you need to know that my son is the highlight of my life and if you're not invested in that--you may as well go the other way."
Do you know your love language(s)?
I don't know for sure but I'm big on affirmations, for me and for her. I need to tell you I love you and I need her to tell me she loves me. I need all the compassionate words, the compliments, I need all that.
So when you’re in a relationship, how would you best like to be catered for by your partner?
I don't like to be catered to. I prefer to do all the catering. That's what I do. Besides the affirmations, that's all I need.
OK, well let’s flip it. How do you best cater to your partner?
By being there for her to provide whatever she needs so she knows 'I got you.' Any kind of support. No matter what. And that's honestly why when I was struggling as an actor, I wouldn't date. I won't date if I'm broke. Because if we're going to dinner or to the movies--I'm paying for it. I really don't like dating if I'm not financially stable. Luckily, I'm not in that position anymore, but I like to provide, be supportive. I like to encourage. I don't want her to have to look nowhere else.
Courtesy of Lawrence H. Robinson
"I won't date if I'm broke. Because if we're going to dinner or to the movies--I'm paying for it. I really don't like dating if I'm not financially stable. Luckily, I'm not in that position anymore, but I like to provide, be supportive. I like to encourage. I don't want her to have to look nowhere else."
Last thing before we wrap and this is a two-part question: What frustrates you the most and surprises you the most when it comes to finding love or about love in general?
Mmm. That's good. What frustrates me the most is not knowing when the right time for it is. I'm so focused right now and locked into my career and I feel like love can either help you or knock you off your track. And what surprises me the most is how it feels like fate. The perfect situation can really come your way out of nowhere one day and you weren't even looking for it. That's what I would say.
Season 1 of Sistas is available to stream on the BET Now app. And for more of Lawrence, connect with him on Instagram: @lawrencehrobinson.
Featured image courtesy of Lawrence H. Robinson
Writer. Empath. Escapist. Young, gifted, and Black. Shanelle Genai is a proud Southern girl in a serious relationship with celebrity interviews, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and long walks down Sephora aisles. Keep up with her on IG @shanellegenai.
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If Bossing Up Was Person: Why Teyana Taylor Is A Force Every Black Creative Should Take A Nod From
Teyana Taylor is no stranger to the hustle and grind of treading through the hills and valleys of a career in entertainment. Since the early 2000s (whoa, crazy typing that) I've been a huge fan of what she's always brought to the table, especially representing Harlem, a borough I hold dear to my heart from early childhood memories of spending summers there.
With her unique style, powerful presence, and bold way of approaching anything she does, no one can deny that Taylor ain't nothing to play with.
Her recent collab with Jordan---an Air Jordan 1 Zoom CMFT 2 “A Rose From Harlem” sneaker---broke records and sold out within minutes of its June 1st release. She also directed a fairytale-inspired video, giving a nod to Bridgerton, Cinderella, and Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing for the launch, co-starring her daughters, Junie and Rue Rose, Philadelphia Eagles' Jalen Hurts, and DJ Khaled, and featuring cameos from hip-hop stars Maino, Fabolous, and Remy Ma.
Brian Ach / Contributor
She's proven her creative tenacity, talent, and wit time and time again, from her early 2000s self-affirming anthem, "Google Me," to landing deals with music labels including Pharell's Star Trak and Kanye's G.O.O.D. Music, to her iconic Internet-breaking role in Kanye West's "Fade" video, to dominating stages giving sultry, authentic, and rousing within rock, hip-hop, soul, and funk-infused experiences for fans. (You really can't just call her shows "concerts" because Ms. Teyana is truly a divine performer who offers her all from the soul and gut.)
Many of us who have been following her journey are well aware of the chart-topping albums filled with collabs with legends including Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu, and her stand-out supporting roles in comic cult classics. I mean, let's really put some respect on her fabulous portrayal of Bopoto Izzi---a reimagining of the '80s classic Imani Izzi character played by Black Hollywood royalty Vanessa Bell Calloway---in the 2021 sequel, Coming 2 America, which came in at No. 1 in streams its opening weekend. Or how about the $25 million hitMadea's Big Happy Family that wouldn't have been the same without the unforgettable, "Byyyyyyroooonnnn!.
And let's not forget how she always un-alives the game with any fashion runway or brand collaboration she touches. From the Met Gala to global fashion weeks, she always adds a touch of glamourous urban spin to haute couture, representing all that is multifaceted and golden about being a Black woman.
Mike Coppola / Staff/Getty
Confidence And Resilience Leading To Longevity And Growth
After more than a decade, the wife and mother of two has faced her fair share of challenges, snubs, and obstacles in her music and film career. There was those infamous reports of the online feud with Rihanna and the subsequent news of Adidas dropping her from a sneaker deal back in 2013. There was also her public acknowledgement of the impact of career disappointments when, citing feelings of being "unappreciated," she announced her retirement from music in 2020.
She reemerged on stages in 2021 with "The Last Rose Petal" tour and in 2022 with "The Last Rose Petal 2" run. The shows sold out and Janet Jackson surprised her with an appearance at the London stop.
Taylor also shifted to honing her acting craft and working on other creative projects after giving music a break."When I retired, I really wanted to focus on directing and acting, so this is the first project that I did since stepping into that world, " she told Elleof her renewed focus and work with A Thousand And One.
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She's clearly pushed through, not letting anything or anyone stop her from thriving in the journey, setting her career goals, being intentional, and making her business dreams a reality. The results of that are as clear as day: her work via The Aunties production team, the recent collab with Jordan (a brand that has reportedly earned Nike $19 billion by the way), her recent creative direction gigs with top artists including Latto, Summer Walker, and Lola Brooke, and her recent breakout role in a Sundance grand jury prize-wowing film helmed by two powerful Black women (A.V. Rockwell as writer and director, and Lena Waithe as co-producer), and the continued slaying of red carpets prove that she's in it to win it.
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