Peter Parros of Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots Talks New Season Plus Several Upcoming Projects
He’s been in front of the cameras for almost 31 years and to this day, he still seems to be highly favored by the crowd. From TV shows to films, and soap operas, actor and screenwriter, Peter Parros only seems to be getting better and better.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Parros always had a creative vision. Using writing as a gateway to the entertainment world, the actor started writing early on. After briefly working for a movie miniature company and managing a magazine, Parros took his talents on-screen to live out those written stories through the characters. He then attended a theater school out in Hollywood, CA where he began doing theater and commercials.
From there, his acting career ignited. Landing his first role on the 1984 series, The Facts of Life as Michael, Tootie’s (Kim Fields) cousin, that was only the beginning for what was to come. His next big break came when he portrayed ‘Reginald Cornelius, III ‘ on season four of the TV series, Knight Rider.
Shortly after that, Parros went on to emerge into the world of soaps. Spending some time on CBS’s original soap opera, The Young & The Restless. From there Parros set out to do a variety of other TV projects including 227, The New Adam 12, and his best-known role in As The World Turns as ‘Dr. Benjamin “Ben” Robert Harris’.
Now, with his critically acclaimed role as judge ‘David Harrington’ on OWN’s hit primetime drama, Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots, Mr. Parros keeps sailing to success.
Owner of production company, Ten Talents Productions, Peter Parros is a loving father, and businessman who stops at nothing to let his creative talents be heard and seen.
Read our exclusive interview with Mr. Parros as he talks about the ins and outs of the TV business, his role on Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots, and much more….
Parlé Mag: You’ve been acting for quite some time now. What would you say inspired you to become an actor?
Peter Parros: Well, I actually came into acting through writing, and also because of my cousin. I thought I was going to be a dental technician, which is what my dad did. He’s retired now. He had his own dental lab. I ended up getting a temporary job working with a company that built miniatures for movies. It was called, ‘Brick Price Movie Miniatures’. We also had a magazine—actually, two magazines that we put out on model building techniques and one called, ‘Special Effects Modeler’. At that point, miniatures were being used in movies. I was managing editor of that magazine. It was just much more exciting to me than making teeth. So, I really didn’t get into acting until after high school. I have a cousin named, Justin Lord—who’s an actor and who’s in a theater company called, ‘American Theater Arts’. It’s in Hollywood. Well, used to be in Hollywood. It actually doesn’t exist anymore. I ended up going there. Started in theater and commercial—mostly television. But, that was really kind of the way it came in. I initially thought I would be doing action, adventure, and sci-fi.
Parlé Mag: Throughout your acting career, what is something that you know now about the business that you wish you would’ve known when you first started out?
Peter Parros: How to say this? The money is not the most important thing. I had actually a couple of shows that agents previously told me not to do because the money wasn’t right in their minds. I had one that I wish I had actually done. I won the role but didn’t accept it because of the money. It was a series with Robert Conrad called, High Mountain Rangers. I had just come off of Knight Rider, and I wish I had done that. The second time, it was the same agent who told me not to do this show I had done called, The New Adam 12. I wanted to do it; I knew the producers—they wanted me on the show. Even with this show, The Haves And the Have Nots, when it was starting out, they were like ‘Well, you know it’s new—the network.’ This, that, blah, blah blah. I’m like, ‘It’s Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry. I want to do it.’ So, I would say if there’s a role that you want to do, do it. I wouldn’t let my business people or manager, agent talk me out of doing a show that I wanted to do because they thought that the money wasn’t right.
Parlé Mag: Right! So, as you just said, you also write as well. Are you currently working on any movie projects, scripts, or anything?
Peter Parros: Yes! Well, I’ve actually got three projects that I’m working on. One is a feature film. The working title of it is Fire of Fire. Interestingly, they all have kind of an angel theme. They are all faith-based, but not necessarily overtly. But, one is called Fire of Fire, which is a feature film. The other, it’s actually a comic book series that I acquired to write called, Kidz of the King. I had produced five years ago an animated DVD of it. There was a ministry out of Chicago who were doing the comic books—but they stopped doing them, and then, earlier this year, I acquired the rights to the comic books. So, I’m working on re-doing that—and that’s kids’ oriented. The third thing is a comic book and the working title of that is Earthbound. I’m working with a guy, Jim Krueger, who does writing for Marvel, DC comics, and different things. It’s about an angel stuck on earths—it’s a Black angel. Pretty cool. Very different kind of concept. So, actually, we’re going to do six comic books that will become a graphic novel. We’ve got it outlined on the first five, but we haven’t started the artwork on it yet.
Parlé Mag: That seems really interesting!
Peter Parros: Yeah, yeah! Like I said, it has a spiritual theme, but you know what, it’s about an angel whose history goes back thousands and thousands of years. I don’t want to give too much of it away yet. But, it’s a very cool, different kind of semi-superheroish—sort of Jason Bourne, like Bourne Identity, feel to it. It’s probably more of an adult audience comic book as opposed to Kidz of the King—which is like a teenage comic book. So, those are my writing projects.
Parlé Mag: So, let’s talk about your character, ‘David Harrington’, on Tyler Perry’s The Have and the Have Nots. Could you tell us a little bit about how you snagged that role?
Peter Parros: Well, interestingly, I had auditioned for the role. It was basically a regular audition experience. Got called in and won it. My sister goes to T.D. Jakes Church, The Potter’s House, and she had seen Tyler at the New Year’s service. The callbacks for the show were the first week of January—and that would’ve been, I guess, 2013. She was like, ‘I just saw Tyler Perry at church; we gotta talk to him. Somehow we gotta get to him. I don’t know how.’ She had some projects in mind that she wanted to do. I said, ‘Wow, it’s funny that you should say this.’ The next day I was going in to read for this character. The audition scene was like four lines. It was a really, really small role, and I was a little bit—like, I was going mostly because I really wanted to meet him. But, I didn’t know if it was going to be a good time. The character was a certified financial planner. It was like, he was Veronica’s husband kind of thing. [laughs] It was like, nothing. She was telling me the message at service that Sunday was, ‘Don’t despise the day of small beginnings.’ So, everything that happened after that, just was like confirmation, for me, that I should do this. By the time the script came, David was a judge; he was with Jim Cryer—everything that the character is now. It became a much more of a role than I thought it was when I initially started.
Parlé Mag: How has it been working with Tyler Perry?
Peter Parros: The experience working with Tyler has been amazing. It has been really the best experience—I feel like on a lot of levels. My best experience; my best work experience. The cast, everybody gets along. The character I feel is very different from who I am as a person, how I speak, how I look—the stuff that he deals with is very different. Being around him and just seeing why he is, not only the most terrific writer, director in Hollywood, but just his business sense is amazing. His commitment to investing in himself is part of what has motivated me to do more of my work. We’re going to start this week shooting at his new studio. It’s bigger than Universal Studios, Paramount Studios, and Warner Bros all put together. You know, it’s huge. I have liked his dramatic films like Daddy’s Little Girls—different stuff like that. So, I knew that there was that potential there, even though he was known for his comedy. But, I didn’t realize the depth of who he is as a person. I don’t think most people realize it, based on the Madea movies. It just seems like he’s comedy, but it’s not only the entertainment. It’s an interesting experience to sort of be on this ride at this point in what he’s doing.
Parlé Mag: Being from up north, was there a challenge transitioning into such a southern-based character. Like, changing your accent and so on so forth?
Peter Parros: No. Not really. It’s an interesting thing about how that came about. I saw that nobody was really doing a southern accent. Suddenly, I’m realizing, ‘Wait a minute. We’re supposed to be in Savannah, and my character’s a Black man running for a political office in Georgia?’ Like, he can’t be from the north. My character is supposed to be older than John Schneider. The show starts with his 50th birthday. So, I’m like, ‘Okay, I gotta come up with something that’s going to make me seem Southern and old.’ You know, just like an older Southerner. So, the next day, I came up and we got on set. I did this thing and Tyler was like, ‘Great. Moving on.’ I was like, “Oh, man! I gotta do this every day now.’ [laughs] So, it happened kind of randomly and it was just something that—more than I think for the area, I wanted something that would give this guy weight as a Southern judge, politician, whatever. People seem to love the character, the voice, and all that. But, it was really something that came very after the fact.
Parlé Mag: So, your character is very laid back and strong-willed. In what way would you say that you can relate to David?
Peter Parros: I don’t know. Sometimes I have a hard time relating to David and I think this has been a character where I really had to work at putting me aside or how I feel because David is so laid back, especially in dealing with Veronica.
Parlé Mag: Yes!
Peter Parros: It’s like, you know, sometimes I’m like, ‘Tyler, you gotta give me a minute. I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around how this guy is taking all of this stuff!’ But, I have to go back to, even though he’s not—I would say he’s not a religious character, he’s committed to loving his family. He’s committed to loving his wife. He’s committed to loving his son. I think he wrestles with the pain of what he sees his wife becoming and trying to stay committed to that—to her in spite of everything because he understands how broken she has become. The person she is is not the person who he married. So, I think part of it is he keeps hoping that some hope would come back. I have to go to something outside of myself to play this character because it’s very frustrating. But, I can get to a place where, ‘Okay, I have to understand how somebody would deal with all of this’. And that, I’m like, at some point you gotta, [laughs]. But, to me, too, part of that is the genius of how Tyler writes and what makes the audience so passionate about the show because—not just with my character, but with a lot of things, it’s like that kind of scream at the television kind of entertainment like, ‘Oh, come on!’ You have to bring the audience to that point and he knows how to do it; he knows the cliffhangers and everything that keeps the audience engaged. It’s very fun to be a part of.
Parlé Mag: What can fans look forward to on the next season?
Peter Parros: That’s interesting, Well, how to say this without saying too much, umm. Every time I look at—I read a season, I’m like I can’t believe he found a way to take it to this kind of level. He writes in such a way that you can’t predict it. So, I can say that there is going to be some growth for my character this season, which I’m happy with. There are some areas where I feel David is going to be stronger. But, circumstances can change in such a way that also it brings out different parts of characters. So, maybe you think you know what somebody’s about, and then you find out that there’s always more mystery to people. So, I think that fans will not be disappointed. If you wonder how he can maintain this, he manages to not only maintain and sustain a level of drama but raises it up a couple notches. It’s more like that guilty pleasure of entertainment. I did soaps for a while; I think in the beginning some actors on the show might have been a little reluctant to acknowledge it as a soap, but you know, it’s a nighttime soap. We’ve got a lot of stuff going on. A lot of drama. A lot of everything—romantic stuff. It’s all there.
Parlé Mag: Putting all of that aside, what’s in the near future for you? What’s next?
Peter Parros: Well, I think probably going back to on the creative side. Probably the newest—or the most recent things, would be the comic book, the Earthbound comic book and the feature film I would like to get going. As far as the film—who knows, there may be some other stuff, trying to get some wisdom after we finish shooting here from Tyler about the best way to do that. On the creative side and what I’ve learned really from the animation project, is that it’s not just enough to get a film or project made; you have to draw the audience to it. So, you have to have the right distribution. I thought I had distribution; it didn’t work out last time I worked. So, just all that business side. Really trying to get that together, in addition to the creative side of the projects that I have. I know I have things that people would be interested in. It’s just how do I complete it and get it to the audience. That’s on the business side. So, hopefully, within the next year. What’s great about the way that we work on the show is that we shoot quickly. We shoot a season in less than two months, and then, I have the rest of the year to work creatively. Also, in the mix of that, I’ve gotten into sailing quite a bit. I have a boat; the title of the boat is called, Hans Christian—a thirty-three foot Hans Christian. They call it a ‘Bluewater Sailboat’. So, it’s literally designed to sail around the world.
Parlé Mag: Wow.
Peter Parros: So, I plan to do some long distance cruising this summer. Not necessarily around the world, but I’ll probably go up the coast a bit—northern California, possibly down to Mexico this year. Just to kind of get me prepared for some longer distance cruising. Waiting for the weather to warm up for that. I’ve been sailing for a while. I had a boat for about twelve years with my dad on a lake in Texas, but it was a smaller boat. This boat I just got in August of last year. I’ve been getting it together. Like I say, this summer, planning to be some long distance sailing. So, it’s fun. It’s not fast, but it’s very exciting just being in tune with nature and the wind. I just love that.
Parlé Mag: It sounds like you’re going to have a ton of fun.
Peter Parros: Yes, yes! It’s going to be great. I love it.
Don’t forget to tune into the new season of Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots on June 21st. Only on OWN!