Written by: Mark Pollard
Having more than a decade of credits in acting is a pretty solid career am I right? Try including roles in some of the most popular films and sitcoms in the past decade like ANTWON FISHER, THE RINGER, AND THE LONE RANGER to name a few, or even appearing in countless TV commercials like the popular GEICO spot with country legend Kenny Rogers. You’ve seen him many times on the big screen and on television but probably didn’t know his name. Well does Leonard Earl Howze ring a bell, if not then how about “Dinka”? Yes, “Dinka” aka Leonard Earl Howze is the man nowadays as he’s a series regular on one of the most popular sitcoms on television and appears in several acclaimed films this season. Check out how this Los Angeles native got his start and where he plans on taking his fame in the near future.
“I was bred in the theater at a young age, so I enjoy that relationship that the actor has with the audience. There’s just a feeling you get when you’re connected to what the character is going through and trying to convey that. There’s no rush that I feel that compares to that.”
Best known as one of the original cast members of the successful film franchise, BARBERSHOP where he played the role of “Dinka”, Howze weighs in on that experience working on such a popular film with an equally popular cast.
“It was such a huge honor and blessing to be cast in that film and it was one of my very first leading roles on film. I still get chills thinking back over that experience because it was so much fun.”
Earlier this year Howze co-starred in two indie films, LIVE CARGO, and BRAVE NEW JERSEY both which were well received at film festivals. BRAVE NEW JERSEY is a comedy, which made its debut at the Austin Film Festival in October. The film is set in the 1930’s on the night of Orson Welles’ legendary “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast took place, which led millions of listeners to believe the U.S. was actually being invaded by Martians.
“It’s a heartwarming film that has to do with the choices you make when you think the world is going to end, and then when it doesn’t, dealing with the aftermath of your decisions.”
Howze goes on to weigh in on his gripping role in LIVE CARGO, which made its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival this year and follows a grieving couple who retreats to a remote Bahamian island where they become entangled in a dangerous turf war between the island’s mayor and a greedy human trafficker. Howze plays Doughboy, one of the most dramatic characters in the film that’s a polar opposite to Howze’s previous acting roles.
“I guess you can say Doughboy is the “bad guy” of the film. He’s involved with smuggling and working with the underbelly of life, but he got to that place with all the things that have happened to him growing up. He’s definitely one of the darker characters that I’ve ever played.”
Howze goes on to talk about the challenge of mastering the Bahamian accent while filming on location on the island of Bimini.
“It was definitely a challenge, the Bahamian folks were quick to tell you if your accent was off, but we definitely immersed ourselves into the culture there, learning the dialect as well.”
Howze is currently starring on CBS’ new No.1 comedy, KEVIN CAN WAIT, where he plays opposite to series creator and star Kevin James. He is definitely putting his acting and comedy chops to work on this new project.
“It’s a lot of fun, a blessing and a true privilege working on this show. Goody is a newly retired cop and former partner of Kevin living in Long Island and just one of those “good friends” that’s hanging out.”
“It’s my first time being a series regular on a sitcom. One of the things I love about growing up in the theater is that we get to perform in front of a live audience. So it’s like the best of both worlds in a way because not only is it being filmed and recorded to show to the masses, but you get that audience that’s living and breathing with you at that moment as well. So its like your putting on a one act show every week, it been a fun experience for me.”
Not only can you catch Howze making moves on set over at CBS, but you can also catch him alongside Kevin James again this time on Netflix action/comedy, TRUE MEMOIRS OF AN INTERNATIONAL ASSASIN, which was released in November.
“I play a CIA Operative who’s a rescuer of sorts. We filmed in Atlanta, as well as in the Dominican Republic. We have great action and I think it’s a cool “Netflix and chill” type of film.”
Howze, though a successful actor also has a BFA in Theater Arts from SUNY Purchase. He also is an alumnus of the renowned Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. With that being said education and training on the art of acting has been embedded in him for many years. Howze has this to say for up and coming actors that want to pursue a career in the mean streets of Hollywood.
“I always encourage the youth to stay persistent, encouraged, lifted and to get trained. I started at a young age, but I always had teachers around me, and the training I feel has always been essential for me – not only to have a degree to fall back on but to also have the ability to pull from various resources when you’re working with so many different directors with different styles. Throughout my training, I’ve learned a lot of different methods of acting so I always encourage young actors to get the proper training.”
Leonard Earl Howze is the epitome of humility and persistence. With a bright career on the rise and 2016 coming to a close, the future is very bright for this actor. Longevity is definitely the name of the game when Howze comes into play, with a rap sheet of everything you can think of from film, television, and commercials, what haven’t this man done!
You can catch Leonard Earl Howze on KEVIN CAN WAIT Mondays at 8/7c, also check him out on Netflix as well on TRUE MEMOIRS OF AN INTERNATIONAL ASSASIN, and don’t forget to follow him on IG @Leonardearlhowze and on Twitter @Leonardehowze. You’re dope for reading.