Meet Leonard Earl Howze. You’ve seen him many times before…you just may not have known his name. He is best known as one of the original cast members of the successful film franchise, Barbershop, where he played the lovestruck Nigerian, ‘Dinka.’ He has more than a decade of film and television credits including roles in Antwone Fisher, The Ringer, The Lone Ranger, as well as a series regular in TNT’s detective drama, Memphis Beat.
We had the opportunity to catch up with Mr. Howze. Read below.
QG: You have an extensive film and TV credit list. How have you been able to have a career for so long where most haven’t?
Leonard Earl Howze (LH): I credit my faith in God and my belief that all things come to fruition in divine timing. There’s been so many jobs that I may have wanted that I didn’t receive, only to be presented AND land something just as enriching not too long after. I have a great team behind me that are like family who work really hard on my behalf. I have also built strong relationships within the industry by striving to stay humble, appreciative and grateful.
QG: One movie that most remember you from is Barbershop. How did you get that role and what was your experience filming that movie?
(LH): I went through an extensive audition process before being cast in the film. It was my first lead role after graduating from SUNY Purchase with a BFA in Theater Arts. It was exciting to live out my dream and work with industry heavyweights like Cedric the Entertainer and Ice Cube. It was truly a blessing to be a part of such a timeless film. Arriving to set everyday was like meeting up with family. I stood in such admiration of everyone’s work and even made a few lasting friendships. We had so much fun working together and exploring the wonderful city of Chicago.
QG: You film sitcoms, movies and commercials. Which one is the most difficult and why?
(LH): I wouldn’t say there are any difficulties with any of them. I believe that if you love what you’re doing, there’s an ease to it all. There might be a few challenges, but the one thing that l would say links them all is the amount of time put in to make a great product. Whether it’s a feature film or a 30-second commercial, many many hours are spent to ensure all elements are captured because once they say – ‘That’s a wrap!’ – it’s all over.
QG: You play Goody on CBS’s new sitcom Kevin Can Wait. What is the sitcom about and who is Goody?
(LH): ‘Kevin Can Wait’ is a comedy about family, retirement, and life’s many hurdles. The show follows Kevin Gable (Kevin James), a newly retired police officer who is looking forward to spending some carefree, quality time with his wife and children only to learn that the challenges he faces at home are even tougher than the ones he encountered on the streets. Goody is his fellow retired partner and closest friend who participates in some epic adventures alongside Kevin and their buddies.
QG: Netflix seems to be giving a lot of actors more opportunities with all their new series. Tell us about True Memoirs of an International Assassin.
(LH): When I mentioned divine timing previously in regards to my career, this film is one of those instances. I landed the role of CIA agent/operative Cleveland in this hilarious comedy, starring Kevin James, before securing the role on our current sitcom together. Our work in this film, paved the way for my role on the No. 1 new comedy on television. You see how God works?
‘True Memoirs of an International Assassin’ follows Joe (played by Kevin), an accountant and author, who gets trapped between the CIA and drug lords when his fictional novel, The Memoirs of an International Assassin, is accidentally published as nonfiction under the title The True Memoirs of an International Assassin, and he is mistaken for a real assassin. My character, Cleveland, alongside my partner Cobb, played by Rob Riggle, are sent to handle the trouble that Joe finds himself getting into with some pretty bad guys. This was an exciting project, which included working with the legendary Andy Garcia and shooting in both Atlanta and the Dominican Republic. Film lovers who like action and crazy stunts will enjoy the suspense and plot twists of this story.
QG: What else does Leonard Earl Howze have in the future?
(LH): I will continue my efforts to bring lots of laughs and great storytelling to ‘Kevin Can Wait’ on a weekly basis for audiences across the country. I also have a few more films to come, but I plan to get back on stage soon. The theater is my first love, and I miss it dearly. So, hopefully this summer, while we’re on break, I can get “back on the wood,” as they say.
Check out a scene from Kevin Can Wait below and make sure you catch it on CBS Monday’s 8/7c.