Tarik Lowe, co-writer of and actor in the indie "romantic masculine comedy" Supporting Characters, now screening at the Tribeca Film Fest, has been working in the industry for over 16 years. Aside from steady commercial and voiceover work, Tarik has been working the small screen on TV and soap operas since 1999. He has had roles in Law & Order, One Life To Live, CollegeHumor original TV series and on CBS' Blue Bloods.
His main goal right now however, is continuing to make strides in the independent film circuit, where he can have the freedom to create his own vehicles in a more personal way. Characters, written by Lowe's real-life screenwriting partner Daniel Schechter and Lowe, and directed by Schechter, is one of those vehicles. The film is based on their real life relationship dynamics.
I was able to catch a screener of Supporting Characters. I highly suggest you read my review first prior to the interview below; you'd certainly appreciate it more. Click HERE to read that review if you haven't yet.
I had the pleasure to chat with Lowe this past Saturday after his Tribeca screening, where the film has been warmly received by critics and audiences alike. Lowe spoke more about the conception of the film, its characters, and his plans in the entertainment industry.
S&A: You co-wrote this film with director Daniel Schechter. How did the idea for film come about?
TL: He [Dan Schechter] and I are very good friends and we’re also writing partners; so, we have the same dynamic the characters share in the film in real life. We kind of wanted to make a buddy film about two best friends who have girlfriends that they would like to connect so that they could hang out a little more; that was the original idea.
Slowly, we started to use the backdrop of being film editors and our own personal situations that were happening in our lives and we started writing them in the script. Then it became something completely different from what we started out writing. It turned from more of a romantic comedy to more of a buddy film about people dealing with issues and relationships. My character is in a short-term relationship. Dan’s character is played by Alex Karpovsky, and is in a long-term relationship that’s at the point of engagement. It’s really trying to examine two different kinds of relationships, and we thought we had interesting things going on in our lives, and we just wrote a very personal film.
S&A: Tell me about your character Darryl? How did you approach the role?
TL: I like to think that I’m a lot like Darryl; I would say I’m about 70%. He’s probably a little nicer than I am in real life, but I wrote a character that on film makes me look like roses. He [Schechter] wrote a character that people sometimes feel in some ways that you don’t love, but at the end of the day his character wins everyone over. But it’s a lot of me in Darryl.
S&A: How did you approach the element of race in the film?
TL: Race is brought up at least three times in the film. It’s not with like an angry feeling, but we bring it up and talk about it. We chose not to avoid it in the film. It’s something we experience in our relationship and we wanted to make sure it was a part of the film. We definitely didn't want it to be all about that, but it comes up.
S&A: I saw the ADR clip when your character Darryl is asked by Dan to “urban it up/blacken it up" during the voiceover. Could you relate to that experience?
TL: Yeah, I do a lot of voiceovers and they always tell me to “urban it up.” You can hear it in my voice; I have a neutral sort of speech and I get, “Can you do it a little more urban?” I hear that all the time so we definitely wanted to put that in the film. And you know, there’s no real aggression behind it. It’s just being aware that they’re just two very different people, me being black and him being Jewish, and both being close to our roots, it’s something we wanted to explore.
S&A: How did Melonie Diaz get attached to the film? How was working with her?
TL: I LOVE Melonie, love Melonie. I loved her work for a very long time. I know the girl I wrote it [the script] about; she wasn’t Hispanic, but she felt Hispanic [chuckles], if that makes any sense. And, I wanted to have a Hispanic actress play the role.
We reached out to Melonie. I knew someone who knew her manager, and we reached out to her, sent her an offer and she accepted it. Next thing you know, she’s flying out to NY from LA. That first day that we shot together, it was my first time meeting her in person, and literally after an hour of meeting her, I’m proposing to her [in film]. So, it was really interesting; she’s an amazing talent.
S&A: Are you auditioning? How hard is it to find work as a Black actor?
TL: All the time. Acting is how I make my living. I learned to love it. I started acting when I was 10 years old. You learn a lot through auditioning. I do a lot of commercial work and voiceover and that stuff really helps pay the way. So, I’m happy that I’m able to work consistently since I was 11. I’m 27 now and I don’t plan on stopping.
I’m going to be playing Black characters all the time; I’m aware of that. I wish for better roles, more great roles. But, I’m not going to be a victim of casting agents. I’m going to create my own vehicles; I’m not too concerned about it.
S&A: What are you working on?
TL: I shot Blue Bloods recently. I have two other scripts in the can that are ready to produce.
I’d love to work in film consistently, but TV is long term and the pay is a little better. Prime time is where I see myself in the next year or so. But I’m definitely shooting films. I love the independent circuit and the creativity we have. We had some freedom with this film, so I’m going to work in this independent circuit as long as I can.
Watch the trailer (and a clip from the film) below:
And here's a clip: