Three-time NAACP nominated actor, author and MTV award winner choreographer, Darrin D. Henson is the newest character on the BET mini series, The Family Business. The multi-talented Henson plays Orlando Duncan, son of family patriarch, L.C Duncan (Ernie Hudson). L.C begins to think about retirement and has to decide which of his children should take over the family’s lucrative exotic car dealership. The Duncan’s live the high life and have made their share of enemies doing so. Under siege from some of the top politicians, mafia and drug cartels in the city, the Duncans will have to stick together or die separately. Henson (The Express, Tekken, Stomp the Yard, Lincoln Heights, Soul Food, etc.) has the ability to comfortably slip into a role as if he’s lived there before.The actor understands Orlando Duncan’s virtues and flaws and creatively draws you in, as they unfold throughout the episodes. You may love or you may hate Orlando Duncan, but Henson will make sure you know the soul of the man. Darrin Henson brings an intensity that his fans have come to expect and he never lets them down.
We got a chance to speak with Darrin about his role as ‘Orlando Duncan’ and how hard it was transitioning to playing a drug-dealer in the mini series & advice to give aspiring actors/actresses. + more. Check out what he had to say below.
RESPECT.: How was it being called-up to be the new cast member of the series?
Darrin Henson: To be honest I’ll tell you exactly how it happened. Originally, I’m going to pre-date the actual call, two- weeks prior to getting the call for the ‘Family Business’ in it’s organic state now I’ll explain what that means in a second. I was creating my vision board and one of the actors that I wanted to work with was Armand Assante. He did a movie that I really loved called ‘Mumble Kings.’ He was on my vision board I really wanted to work with him, two weeks later I got a call from ND Brown one of the producers of Family Business. She said “I want to talk to you about a role and it’s about this very influential family you will be playing Ernie Hudson’s son”. Of course I love Ernie Hudson and she told me what it was about and I said yes to it. I said who else is in the movie and she said Armand Assante. So if you can imagine what I felt like the hair that was standing up on my arms and there you have it the law attraction was working in my favor. The family business truth be told was a movie we shot the movie and what you’re watching when you watch the BET series is the movie that was chopped up into a series by BET. Because they found out that we had shot the film in discussion with Carl Weber he presented it and they fell in love with it and decided to turn it into a series. So that’s how it all happened. So this new found success that I have found on this series came from shooting the featured film originally.
The character that I play Orlando Duncan is a very street-smart wise charismatic, calculated man. I enjoy living in his world because he’s so intense and such a patient person. Not only has he been named the CEO of the family by his dad LC Duncan but he’s also creating the new business to become apart of the Duncan family legacy.
Why is the role so important to you?
Well, it’s important because at this point and time in my career it speaks for all the other work that I’ve done. I never look back you know I had a great time on Soul Food and Lincoln Heights but we’re living in the now. In the present moment this character and this family, this time period feels good and it feels right. Of course I feel humbled having this role but at the same time I feel like I’m a much better actor than I was so I can tell a better story. I can be even more honest about the character. Which is exciting to me. Acting is a private moment in public, I get to tell the truth and that’s exciting to me.
How has it been transitioning to play a role of a drug-dealer on screen?
Well, yeah there’s a level of responsibility that you have to have especially in this day & time with the war on drugs or people being strung out on drugs. There’s a great responsibility to playing a character like this. In no way am I glorifying this lifestyle but very much telling the truth about this lifestyle. It’s a human story you know there’s people out there who are very wealthy, fluent, creative and intelligent who are involved in this world. We saw movies like American Gangster with Denzel Washington with him portraying Frank Lucas and Frank Lucas was a real person and is a real person. Incredibly intelligent. He bragged about making a million dollars a day on the street. So there are people out there and even those people need love. They need partnership, friendship and family. We saw in those movies. I’m literally just telling a story about a human life.
You’ve been in this game for 20 years, tell me who were some of the actors you drew inspiration from?
Very, very directly and the first names that comes to mind is Denzel Washington, John Travolta, Gregory Hines, Delroy Lindo, those are the first actors that come to my mind.
Any actors/actresses that you haven’t worked with that you would like to work with?
Halle Berry, Cicely Tyson and the reason I say Halle Berry is because we watched Halle Berry come from playing a crackhead in a Spike Lee film into being an executive producer to being an oscar winner. You have to respect people & where they’ve come from and where they are. I think that dynamic is simply enough. She happens to be a friend who I respect and has moved into a position where alot of men and women can learn from her. So definitely, Halle Berry, Cicely Tyson, Regina King. When I ask people who would the queen who has carried black women, you have to say ‘Angela Bassett’ . You have to, you can’t mention excellence without mentioning Angela Bassett and that’s who I would like to work with as well.
What is some advice you can give to someone that’s an aspiring actor/actress?
The advice I would give to anybody who wants to be in the acting field is not to worry about being famous. If you are wanting to be an actor because you want to be famous,you’re looking in the wrong direction. You’re making the wrong statements, you need to get off social network and get into a class. You need to start living life, journaling and paying attention to your emotions. But being famous is not why you should want to be an actor. I think that its important to study your craft and its important to take classes so you understand what acting is about. The first thing that I would do is look up the definition in the encyclopedia of what an actor is and what acting is.
Do you have a favorite rap album at the moment?
My favorite song right now is the ‘Intro’ to Meek Mill’s new album. Which is so dope.
Are their any other artist that you like listening to these days?
I like listening to Jay- Z. I like Drake when he incorporates Rihanna, like some of his old stuff. I like Rick Ross, his voice. One of my favorite rap songs is the ‘I’m a Boss’ remix with T.I., Meek Mill, Ross, Weezy like I love those kind of collabs.