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Actor Lodric D. Collins Talks Playing Music Legend Smokey Robinson and Working With Tyler Perry

For Lodric D. Collins, portraying the legendary Smokey Robinson was a dream come true. Inspired by their suave demeanor and musical artistry, he grew up idolizing icons like Robinson and Lionel Richie. Embracing the role of a living legend can be intimidating, but Collins was up for the challenge.

In a conversation with QG, we discuss how he prepared for the role of music legend, Smokey Robinson, meeting Tyler Perry and more.

As expected Collins, devoted his time to honing his craft and understanding the essence of what made Robinson a legend.

“We put in the work,” he said.

“And I hope that when this living legend looks at it, it's something that he can smile and be proud to watch. We didn't have a lot of time. With the time that we had, I did a lot of research online. So I listened to his songs and albums on repeat. And through that I discovered a lot about the man that wrote it. If you want to know about an artist, especially a songwriter, look at the words that they write. And we developed the character based on that.”

Taking on such a momentous role marks a milestone, and Collins hopes his acting career will only continue to flourish from this point onward. Along with the privilege of starring as Smokey Robinson in the Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect, he is grateful to share scenes with Hollywood A-Listers such as Jennifer Hudson and Forest Whitaker.

“One of my mottos to myself is I'm a student always, which means that whatever place that I'm in, I'm constantly learning and observing,” he explains. “So to have the universe position me in a place surrounded by people that I've learned from by sitting on my couch, and actually having the privilege to be in front and watch and share and learn. It's a treasure.”

Collins’ co-stars provided a supportive and welcoming environment on set. In addition to the good vibes from his castmates, he also felt a personal sense of validation that his talent and creativity were valued.

Smokey Robinson is one of the many diverse roles Collins has undertaken. In Tyler Perry’s The Oval, he portrays Donald Winthrop, the morally ambiguous and multi-faceted White House chief of staff. When reading the script, he instantly connected with the character, and revels in his role on The Oval.

“Through him, I've just discovered a better understanding of humanity and life,” he reflects. “And it's a blessing. But that guy's crazy. You never know what side of the coin you're going to flip with that guy. He is definitely somebody you want on your team because he's a chess player. He's always 12 steps ahead.”

Collins’ working relationship with Tyler Perry began on the TV series The Haves and Have Nots. Initially, he auditioned for the role of Benny, which is a series regular. Although Collins didn’t get the part, he wasn’t deterred and continued auditioning with Tyler Perry Studios until he ultimately secured the role of Lieutenant FBI detective Robert Hawke, a recurring guest star.

His persistence and hard work paid off when he was later offered a leading character role on The Oval. He fondly remembers being on set during the first day of filming and meeting Tyler Perry.

“He's a fast thinking genius who is compassionate, who wants the best for people, who knows his fans, who believes in his fans, who wants to give, [and] to expand to people in general,” he exclaims. “I've never met anybody like him. And he has a wealth of knowledge that he openly shares with people. And he wants nothing in return, other than to know that people took it, ran with it and made something from it.”

Like many successful actors, his journey began in the theater. Acting on stage helped lay the foundation for his future in entertainment. This experience proved beneficial for The Oval in particular as the show is live. His time in theater taught him how to embody a role and have confidence in his abilities.

“With Tyler, we go live, [and] we work really fast,” he said.

“And all you have is a character and trust, and some really great people to work next to. And you release that, you trust that and it happens. And the same with Respect because I believe I may have been one of the last people cast on the set. It's a quick turnaround. I found out that I had the role. Next day I am literally on a plane. And the next day after that we are shooting. So I think there's a lesson in trust back to back with both projects.”

Moving forward, Collins' dream projects include a role similar to 007 and a biopic of Harry Belafonte or Billy Dee Williams.

Don't miss Respect on August 13th. Check out the trailer below!

Photo Credit: Storm Santos

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