Local actor remembers first performances in Civic Center Black Heritage Drama, training at Grambling State University
It’s been a long journey for Monroe, LA native, Reginald Robinson, but he is starting to get the kind of calls which remind him why patience is still a virtue. Robinson, a graduate of Grambling State University, has been climbing the Entertainment ladder for a few years now. He knows first hand how competitive Hollywood can be but he says every opportunity is an extension of the next one.
“You have to take advantage of every opportunity because they all lead to new opportunities. Persistence is the key to success no matter what field you’re in,” he said. Robinson has found recent success with roles in the movies Final Girls, August, and New Hope but perhaps it’s his television run that seems to be even more successful.
He completed a role in NCIS: New Orleans, Breakout Kings, and just recently landed a role on Oprah’s hit TV series, Queen Sugar. “This show is not just a show. This is THE show to be on right now. The script is wonderful and it has easily become the favorite new show to millions of people,” said Robinson about Queen Sugar.
“So many people are proud of this cast, the writers, and the script. I am honored to be part of this great series that we all love so much,” he added.
Robinson, who now resides in Atlanta, is represented by the Action Talent Agency. At 32 years old, he says acting is exciting but it was not his first love.
“I went to Grambling to study Marketing but earned a Masters in Sports Administration.” There was an opportunity to participate in a production with the GSU Theatre Department and Robinson was surprised at how much he already knew about staging.
“I had been in plays growing up in Monroe and it taught me a lot. Rev. Roosevelt Wright doesn’t get the credit he deserves for all those Black History Plays he has done over the years. Those plays have given so many youth in North Louisiana opportunities to grow in the Arts. He has been a mentor for me,” said Robinson, who participated in theatrical arts as a teenager through the Tab N Action program in Monroe.
Working with Grambling’s Theatre Department sparked a real interest in Acting. He began driving to New Orleans on the weekends to audition for movies which were being filmed in the Crescent City.
“New Orleans got hot real quick. Every week they were filming there and I wanted to be where the opportunities were,” he said. “I was hungry to give acting a real shot,” he said.
After college while waiting on acting to take off, Robinson worked at Vision Academy Charter High School in Monroe as a Coach and a Business Coordinator for the school.
“I had a chance to see first hand how a mentor can change a kid’s life. Working at Vision made me realize life is not about just getting something but more importantly it is about what we can give back.”
He has a genuine passion for kids. During the months when he was denied acting roles he took a job as a Professional Youth Counselor working for the River City Professional Counseling Agency.
“I took kids to Grambling and other colleges because many of them had never been on a college campus before. Growing up in the Top Gun Boy Scout program in Monroe, I was taught to think big but as a counselor I was among kids who never received any help or guidance.
Many of these kids were good kids but had little help from home and the lack of a supportive environment,” he said. “Most of them were raising themselves.”
Robinson says he remembers a kid telling him the most heartbreaking story.
“This kid kept getting caught smoking weed. So, I asked him why he smoked so much weed? The kid told me he lived with a drug dealer. They don’t ever have food but they always have weed.” The actor says that story pierced his heart and he knew he had to be an example in some way to prove to young boys that there are many ways to make it big without breaking the law.
“Our kids don’t know the success stories which are right around them. Principals, Doctors, Lawyers, Coaches, Pastors… all these people have stories but our kids only get exposed to the prosperity of thugs and drug dealers. It’s going to take Black men to step up and be the kind of example that young boys can aspire to become,” he said.
It’s his passion for the kids he mentored that has pushed him to give acting his devoted attention. “Not only do our kids need the positive examples but our communities need the resources and people who are willing to use those resources to build something better for our kids. I’m not addicted to money or fame but I am committed to giving back to my youth,” he said.
What makes this opportunity to star on Queen Sugar so unique is that two years ago Robinson tweeted one day he would work with Ava Duvernay (Queen Sugar Creator) and Oprah Winfrey. Looks like this Fall, that prophetic tweet will become a reality. “I believe in the Law of Attraction. If you can see it with your mind, you can hold it in your hand.”
Season 2 of Queen Sugar begins June 20 on the OWN Network.