I’ve been a fan of Black & Sexy TV for a while now, from “The Number” to “RoomieLoverFriends” I’ve always appreciated the opportunity to see people of color represented in the media without being the token “best friend” or “thug.” Enter one of their most recent hits, “Tough Love” which was a 2016 NYC Web Fest Official Selection. The series follows a group of friends trying to navigate the New York City dating scene and it is absolutely addictive. I found myself yelling at my screen, I was so involved. (My husband might say a little too involved…)
I had the opportunity to speak with Devin Coleman who plays Darius and Will Strong who plays Lance and is a South Bronx native, to converse about the show and its characters.
What separates “Tough Love” from other shows about dating in NYC?
Devin: When I run into someone who watches the show, they can identify with someone [from the show]. A lot of times, the shows I come across about New York City, it’s very one-dimensional, single focus storyline. In “Tough Love” they’ve highlighted six individuals and their problems with relationships and going into the first season, you have why people are together and now you get the background as to why they’re like this. …They’re more relatable, they’re more understandable.
Could you discuss the importance of seeing professional people of color represented in the media? I think that’s one of my favorite things about the show is that these are all working professionals, so while they may be going through their own personal issues, they’re on their game, professionally.
Will: Well, nowadays, everything is whitewashed. There are very few black shows on television and the ones we have are again, watered down. Things that are going out now, like “Tough Love”, it’s a positive show, it just brings light as to ‘we can do this as well.’
Devin: As far as my experiences with the industry and how this came a part is that as socially specific as it is at times, it is relatable across all races…The great thing that “Tough Love” does is that it’s a show that you don’t have to paint people in this idealistic way. [Looking back at other shows] parts that minorities play are cliché and in a corny sort of way-
Will: Yes, stereotypical.
Devin: …We touch on current topics, but it’s not just the cliché stereotypical way that a person is going to played on the show.
Will: When I first saw season one…I fell in love with the show. I was like, wow this show is really dope, so when I had the opportunity to audition for it, I jumped on it. It’s an amazing cast and Roni and Caleb. The show is just amazing and I think it’s going to grow and do amazing things.
How much is Darius’ personality influenced by being from the Bronx?
Devin: When Darius was originally given to me, it was just written as he had a gangster persona and find out that the writers were from L.A. and their gangster wasn’t “New York gangster” and I thought the term gangster was kind of … it wasn’t outdated, but it wasn’t something just looking at the character description, it was something I could see in New York. When I started to think about how Darius was in relation to the many different places I’ve lived inside New York City, there’s something about how quietly flashy, but cocky the guys in the Bronx were and that is what it became…There was so much that went into it that I saw in the streets so it was kind of bringing everything that I saw together and creating Darius and…adapting that over and over.
Any upcoming projects?
Devin: Outside of Tough Love, I’m in another project called Timeless Guilt, the movie that’s out, it’s actually a spinoff with a new production, new cast. It’s a web series that will starting filming next month. Outside of acting, I founded a nonprofit called Balanced Hope and I work with the mental healthy community, adults and children with chemical imbalances…We’re actually branching out into the Bronx spring time this year. We’re going to be doing something with ACS in regards to them doing something to bring awareness to the mental health community. A lot of the information can be found at www.balancedhope.org.
Will: I’m working on a play called Thoughts of a Colored Man. Taye Diggs is producing it. I’m also working on another web series called Mistakes. I have a feature film coming out in May.
Tough Love season 2 is currently underway. Check out the trailer below: