Robert Townsend Discusses How The Web Is Changing TV & Raptors v. Actors
What are the benefits to producing a series for the web? And how is the Internet changing how we watch TV?
There is a lot of freedom producing the show on the web. We’re at the forefront because people have responded to the show. To me the Internet is really the future so it may take a little while to catch up. But with stuff like Google TV it’s a game changer. Now it’s apart of your television so you can watch shows on Tivo and watch stuff on the Internet. Now it’s just a switch, it’s the same thing and a reality. So within the next five years anything you want to watch whether it’s a funny video on You Tube or something else, now television will have the same of capabilities. There’s no real divide. We’re at that cusp where they're going to hit that switch and TV and the Internet will be one.
What’s next for you on the web?
We just finished filming a Latino webseries called Los Americans targeting a different demo. We're trying to raise our vision and play with other formats. Our company just bought our own cameras and we’re about to buy our own stages, we’re gonna create our own stuff.
As an actor/writer/director what do you think of singer/ rapper turned actor trend. With the collapse of the music industry it seems as if it's in overdrive these days.
We’re in a strange time because there are only six or seven movies starring black actors that come out a year. They’ve got to be driven by stars so you got to have everybody and their momma in it [laughs.] Studios are like we got to make our money back. So you have singing stars, rapping stars, football stars all acting.
But it’s not exactly a new concept, right? Back in 1972, Diana Ross was a singer turned actress who turned in an Oscar nominated performance for Lady Sings The Blues.
That has been going on for so long. And some are naturals like Tupac Shakur. Certain rappers are good actors certain rappers are bad actors. So that means could you do an independent film that’s incredible and gets you some ink? Yeah, sure but you got to focus and you’ve got to be in a certain mindset. If a basketball or football player is not a good actor, the audience is not going to stay. They’re only a handful of them that rise and the rest of them— they're not doing The Godfather.
So all these actors complaining over the raptors/ singing stars taking their jobs should just stop whining?
For those who really want it, the actors who are not rapper/singers they’ve got to find their way— they got to make it happen. When I think about myself, I made it happen, I wasn’t waiting. Now these young actors and directors have no excuses; the technology makes it so affordable and you have the Internet. My youngest daughter Skye Townsend has over 4 million hits on You Tube and that’s not because of me that’s because of her. She does funny voices, impressions and uploads funny video that she films in the house. She’s 17 and she’s been doing it since she was 14. For actors, writers and directors now it’s easier than ever to get stuff made. So, how bad do you want it? That’s the real question.