Actor Tim Reid set to launch streaming platform celebrating Black creators
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A famous Hollywood actor, producer and comedian is the pride and joy of Norfolk. Tim Reid’s passion for telling stories was first encouraged by his grandmother when he was a teen.
Reid would graduate from Norfolk State University, and life would take him on a journey from the commonwealth to the City of Angels.
“The Legacy of a People Network” is the latest business venture from Reid. It’s a streaming service focusing on the Black experience from across the African Diaspora.
“We affect history and music, culture, science. I mean, there’s no area of life where we have not been involved,” says Reid.
You’ll find tv shows, documentaries and films, giving multicultural creators the ability to tell their own stories.
“We’re going to launch three channels in the coming weeks, and hopefully in a year or so, we’ll have four or five channels on our own platform internationally,” says Reid.
His desire to empower and uplift Black voices in entertainment came out of his own experience.
“Well, I didn’t really set out to be an actor. I was going to be a business person,” says Reid.
With more than 100 credits to his name, the film and TV business is where he would make his mark.
Some of his most memorable roles include Ray Campbell on “Sister, Sister,” and Venus Flytrap on WKRP in Cincinnati.
Reid says infusing himself into that character came with some obstacles, from the first rehearsal.
“I decided I wanted to wear a beard. I mean, everybody was like, ‘Oh my God, what are you doing here? Are you going to shave that?’ Well, that just set off a debate that went all the way to New York and the Board of Directors.’”
Reid kept the beard. His co-star Loni Anderson even recommended he get an earring.
“So, I did that second episode with a clip-on,” says Reid. “Man, you would’ve thought I shot a puppy, but I stood my ground. I wasn’t going to lose my job over it, and finally, they allowed me to wear an earring. Myself and Ed Bradley were the only two Black people on television allowed to wear a beard and an earring for about two or three years. Hollywood was, and is, surprisingly one of the most racist industries and places you could ever find.”
After owning the character, he wanted to own the words. Reid started writing scripts for WKRP and pretty much every other show he was a part of.
“The more I saw how that affected what was put on television, the more power I wanted to have.”
That led to New Millennium Studios. It was a first of its kind in Virginia and one of the largest studios outside of Hollywood, sitting on nearly 60 acres in Petersburg.
He and his wife, Daphne Maxwell Reid, a famous actress who played Aunt Viv on the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” would produce film and tv shows with Black culture at the forefront.
“Frank’s Place” is where his dreams would manifest.
“We began to put our cultural interests and characters into our own show, and I don’t think there’s been a show like in on television ever since. One of the proudest moments of my life,” says Reid.
He says the film industry could’ve been big in Virginia, but he couldn’t get people to buy in at the time.
“If you listened to me, if you had backed me, if you had come together and seen this business potential, we would be Atlanta.”
The questions about embracing the Black experience in film and TV remain.
“Who’s going to speak for us? Where’s the context of our culture intertwined with the context of world culture?” he said.
Reid says the answer is simple.
“We have to control our message, and so I try to train people that I work with or mentor, and say, ‘hey, your story is important. Be a good storyteller, inspire thought, inspire young people to want to find more about themselves and other people.’”
Reid hopes this next endeavor will help facilitate that as we continue to build on the legacy of Black people.
“My love for my culture - my history is my superpower. So, I don’t let the perception of who we are interfere with the knowledge of what I want us to be and what I know us to be.
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