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Terrence Howard On Making It In Hollywood: Do For Self and ‘Stay Black’

Actor Terrence Howard (depicted here in the “Full Circle” episode of “Empire” to air Wednesday, Oct. 4 on FOX) exhorts would-be filmmakers to use whatever means at their disposal, including smartphone cameras, to create video content that could be used as a steppingstone to gain entry to the film industry. (©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Chuck Hodes/FOX)

Promoting “Empire” on “The View” a week before its fall 2017 TV season premiere September 27, Terrence Howard was a model spokesperson. After “The View” aired a clip of him as a dancing Jackie Jackson from the 1992 ABC miniseries “The Jacksons,” Howard, who is better known for playing music mogul Lucious Lyon these days, even got up to prove that he hadn’t forgotten all the moves.

This jovial and fun Howard differed from the typical media characterization of him as “difficult” and “hard to work with.” In fact, the day after the season four premiere of “Empire,” Daily Beast writer Ira Madison III, in his article “Why Terrence Howard, Alleged Abuser of Women, Is Ruining ‘Empire,’” solely blamed Terrence Howard for the show’s creative demise, pointing to allegations of Howard’s abuse of women without explaining their relevance to the show’s troubled storylines. Madison mentions that Illene Chaiken, known in Hollywood circles for leading Showtime’s breakthrough series “The L Word,” is the showrunner, which means she leads the show, but serves up no blame for her.

Judging by the scores of attendees gathered for the ABFF (American Black Film Festival) Talk Series: The Business of Entertainment with Terrence Howard earlier this summer in Miami Beach, not everyone shares such opinions of him, at least not where his talent is concerned. Unlike Madison, with this crowd Howard’s status as an Oscar nominee was of greater interest. And that body of work was very much on Howard’s mind as he acknowledged and dismissed his “difficult” reputation in Hollywood. He also managed to offer tough-love advice to those full of Hollywood dreams.

“I’m a difficult son of a bitch if you’re doing something wrong,” he said to thunderous applause. “If you do it right, we’re good. But if it’s wrong, we’re going to fight until it gets right because my legacy is associated and attached to it.”

Howard, whose standout film roles include “Crash” and “Hustle and Flow,” the hip-hop film that earned him that Oscar nomination, admitted, however, that he hadn’t always trusted his instincts. “The only movies I was terrible in is movies where I didn’t listen to myself,” he said. “Listen to you!”

When he was asked about how to make it to Hollywood, he shot back with a “bootstraps” message. “The hardest thing for us is to find the opportunities to do the work we want to do,” he acknowledged. “Now we keep waiting for somebody to give us a job, give us a job and up and hire us. We do not need that. With these iPhones and different cameras that they have now, you can write and produce your own thing and have enough of it to go and show somebody.”

“So get busy doing your own thing and stop waiting for somebody to give us some government cheese,” he continued.

“We need to start creating our own content and make sure it’s great. That’s all we have to do and stay Black,” he added.

He also promised that he was applying his own advice. “I’m making money now. I’m going to produce my own film.”

Empire can be seen Wednesday nights on FOX at its new time, 8 p.m.

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