How ‘Sistas’ star Lawrence H. Robinson went from Philly to Hollywood

Gearing up for the season finale, theGrio talks to one of the brothas on the show about his breakout role as Chris, and what it’s like working at Tyler Perry Studios

Lawrence H. Robinson attends the Fashion Nova x Cardi B Collaboration Launch Event at Boulevard3 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Fashion Nova)

Tyler Perry’s Sistas has become a hit for BET. The series created by the Hollywood mogul follows a group of single Black women as they navigate their love lives, careers and friendships in a society shaped by social media and a new modern playbook on dating. 

Although there’s only one episode left of season 1, last week, viewers were introduced to a charming new character that many in the Twittersphere are hoping to see much more of.

READ MORE: ‘Sistas’ cast defend Tyler Perry against critics who say he shouldn’t be writing for women

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Philly actor and model Lawrence H. Robinson joins the Sistas cast as the wiser-than-his-years character, Chris. You may recognize his striking dimples from his IG (@lawrencehrobinson) or from his co-starring appearances on Law & Order and the 2015 film Brotherly Love. But what you may not know is that his journey from Philly to Hollywood was a mix of hustle and faith — all while raising a 10-year-old son.

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Robinson says when he was his son’s age, he had hoop dreams like many of his peers in Philadelphia. However, 10-year-old Robinson quickly realized he was the worst player on the team. Being strong-willed and opinionated, he went to college with a more realistic plan of pursuing a law degree. That is until one elective changed it all.

“I took an acting class, and I just fell in love with it. I reached out to a friend that was already in the industry, Nafessa Williams (Black Lightning), and she told me to take Tasha Smith’s acting workshop,” Robinson tells theGrio. “I flew to Atlanta in 2011, I took the workshop, and I moved to New York a year later.”

READ MORE: Actress who took out billboards to get Tyler Perry’s attention lands role on ‘Sistas’

In the years following that workshop, Robinson’s relationship with Smith — best known for her roles in various Perry films from Daddy’s Little Girls to Why Did I Get Married? — continued to grow as she continued coaching him. The decade of hard work paid off, as Robinson landed his pivotal role in Sistas.

“The moment I got the audition and I read the script, I felt connected to Chris. I told the big sis, Tasha, ‘I think I’m going to book this job. I think this is the one.’ And she was like ‘I think it is too,’” he said.

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In Season 1, Episode 24 (“A Bad Feeling”), Chris, a 34-year-old reformed juvenile felon and self-made millionaire, shares some much-needed words of wisdom with Zac (played by Devale Ellis) about how to level up in life and show up for the sistas that they love. 

Robinson, like Chris, knows what it’s like to work his way up from humble beginnings. 

“Everything that Chris said, I feel was spot on. I’m really big on faith. No matter where you come from or what you’ve been through, you can’t let your past dictate where you go. You have to work hard and have faith that you and God will align and you will get there.” 

And get there, he has. 

“Working at Tyler Perry Studios feels like royalty,” Robinson said. “That was my first time there, and it was overwhelming because I had no idea how big it was. It’s literally like Disney World. And everybody is so nice, so positive, and BLACK. Even the food is Black. He continued, “You got fried chicken, shrimp with cajun seasoning, cheesecake… it’s so dope. I was nervous when I first got there, but after a while, it just felt like I was at home.

Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry Studios (Credit: Tyler Perry)

Sistas is written, directed, and produced by Perry himself, and when it comes to working with someone who’s wearing so many hats, Robinson says, “The moment you show up to set, you have to be ready to work. Tyler Perry is a very serious man. He has no time to waste. But working with him was just amazing. He’s a great role model for every Black man, and I learned a lot.”

Robinson also learned a lot from his fellow Sistas castmates played by KJ Smith, Novi Brown, Ebony Obsidian, and Mignon Von.

“I really enjoyed seeing how everyone has personalized their characters and made it their own. I think the show is successful because it feels like these are people that we all know,” Robinson says of his castmates. 

“Everyone got a friend like Danni. Everyone has a friend like Sabrina and Andi and Karen. Everyone is just owning their characters and they’re showing up and they’re telling these stories perfectly, in my opinion.”

As far as the stories that he would like to tell and the types of characters that he would like to play down the line, Robinson says, “I definitely want to play somebody that’s dealing with something heavy like a drug addiction so that I can really just go on a journey with the character and embody and be a voice for their story. 

“I’m also a sucker for Black love,” he adds. “I would love to do a movie like Brown Sugar or Love & Basketball, and just, you know, go on a journey with my co-star and fall in love. I love a Black romance.”

Lawrence H Robinson arrives as Fashion Nova Presents: Party With Cardi at Hollywood Palladium on May 8, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Fashion Nova)

Robinson got a taste of Black romance in Sistas as the boo thang of the older, yet equally-yoked Lisa (played by Shari Belafonte). But he’ll get to star in his most romantic role yet this Christmas, as Noah Franklin in The Business of Christmas starring Daphne Maxwell Reid (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), Roger Guenveur Smith (Do the Right Thing), and Jennifer Freeman (My Wife And Kids). 

Also starring in the film is actress Khadeen Ellis, who is married to Sistas star Devale Ellis. 

“I’m excited to tell this story of a Black family dealing with hardship, but still trying to stay connected and enjoy Christmas. I’m really close to my immediate family, so I understand that struggle of trying to find balance between being the best actor I can be, but still be a dad, a son and a bro,” said Robinson.

Despite these trying times brought on by COVID-19, Robinson is remaining positive.

“Right after we finished filming The Business of Christmas, the coronavirus hit, and two days later we were in quarantine. A lot of actors I know are a little weary right now,” he said.  

“I’m personally not because I’m using this time for myself. I’m just grateful that Chris screened and I was able to finish The Business of Christmas right before this happened.”

For anyone else out there pursuing a dream, he offers up these words of wisdom in true Chris-like fashion: “There’s power in self-submission. Don’t feel like you have to wait for somebody to let you in. Open the door for yourself.”

Catch the Sistas season 1 finale tonight at 9/8C on BET.

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