Welcome to Bronzeville!
You’ve never experienced a podcast like “Bronzeville” featuring a star-studded cast immersed in an Oscar-worthy audio movie (with realistic sound effects and music by Grammy-winning musicians) that will have you on the edge of your seat at home, work, the train station or airport.
From Laurence Fishburne’s Cinema Gypsy Productions and Larenz Tate’s TateMen Entertainment comes the critically acclaimed podcast series centered around the lives of players in the numbers game who thrive in the self-sustaining African-American community of Chicago’s Bronzeville.
Both Fishburne and Tate produce, direct and voice the enthralling series starring Tika Sumpter, Mekhi Phifer, Kyla Pratt, Lavar Burton, Justin Kirk, Lalah Hathaway, Harold Perrineau, Skeet Ulrich, Lahmard Tate, Barton Fitzpatrick, Affion Crockett and other notables.
In Season 2, the Copeland family, Curtis Randolph (Laurence Fishburne) and Jimmy Tillman (Larenz Tate) are still reeling from the mysterious death of their brother Everett (Wood Harris) and the fallout from a heinous crime that reaches all the way to the mayor’s office while threatening to burn Bronzeville to the ground.
With the arrival of a new mob boss whose got his eyes set on their numbers racket, the future of the Copeland empire and Bronzeville is now in jeopardy.
“Fans will be captivated by the rich storytelling and transported into an intriguing time in history that is reflective of both pain and pride,” said Fishburne.
“We’re experiencing a new Black Renaissance, and “Bronzeville” offers another creative platform to tell rich stories of Black history and Black culture,” said Larenz Tate.
“Season 2 of “Bronzeville” sheds light on a different perspective of the Black experience in the early 1940s.”
We caught up with Black Hollywood legend Mekhi Phifer (Jesse Copeland) who talked Season 2 of the prolific audio series that has the podcast community buzzing.
BOSSIP: First of all, “Bronzeville” is the most action-packed podcast I’ve ever heard–
Mekhi: Right (laughs) well, you know, it’s funny because I was supposed to be in the first season but I was shooting out of the country for about six, seven months and it just didn’t work out so that’s when Omari stepped in and did it and then in season two I was able to jump on board.
It’s almost like a “Rosewood,” if you will, in the sense of showing how when these African-American communities band together and start to become independent and self-sufficient that other people try to take advantage of that… and it just goes to show you how important and strong our Black dollar is to our people and the powers that be who try to get in on our economy.
And I just feel like the story is important because we rarely get to see an independent Black economical situation and we have so many colorful characters that you heard and I was just very happy to be a part of it.
BOSSIP: What was the conversation like to get you on board? Who pitched the show to you and what was their pitch like?
Mekhi: Larenz Tate! He’s the one who told me about it. I knew about the show because I was supposed to be on the first season and he said ‘look, this is what it is,’ told me about Brownsville, told me the historic significance of it–basically based on a true story and told me that him and Laurence Fishburne were doing it together along with his brothers and some other people.
I just loved it. I thought it was a great idea. I’ve never done that before. And I’ve never done an audio book or podcast story, you know, type of thing. And it just seemed like something fun to explore.
BOSSIP: On the podcast, everyone’s tempering how they speak to fit the theme of the show–what was the direction like?
Mekhi: They didn’t have to [direct] me–obviously I don’t want to sound like I’m contemporary Harlem but, as an actor, as a professional doing what I do, you’re always going to change with different roles.
It’s still you but you can’t use modern colloquialisms so you just have to be mindful of that so that doesn’t come across like I’m in “Paid In Full” or something.
BOSSIP: How did the show challenge you as an actor? You’ve been doing this for almost 30 years. Did it make you stretch differently?
Mekhi: For me, I just pictured it as if a camera was on. I wanted to have the emotion and, look, you have to do it even more intensely because there’s no closeups or anything like that so you really have to channel how you feel through your words. And through your emotions.
You really have to dig deep, if you will, because you’re just behind a mic. There’s no sets–you’re not going to get that closeup where they can look into your eyes and see you crying so you just gotta give them that energy.
“Bronzeville” is available every Tuesday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and several other digital platforms. Fans can follow and contribute to the conversation on Instagram.