This week I got to chat with TOUCH 106.1 FM radio personality, actress and commentator T. Whitlow who took some time out to talk to me about how she got her start into the entertainment industry and what the future holds for this Boston grown talented woman.
T. Whitlow: It really is a part of my first name. I use it instead of my first name as I feel it’s a better way to brand myself. It’s sexless it kind of throws people off guard when they expect typically expect to see a man and then when they see me, it gives me a bit of an edge.
BostonFab!: You’re from The Bean, right? How do you think that things have changed from when you’ve grown up (not that you’re that old – ha!) to the way things are now?
T. Whitlow: Yes, I am born, bred and “breeded” [laughs] in Boston. Although I’ve lived briefly in other cities, my roots are here. I grew up in a single parent home, where my mother made every attempt to ensure we had everything we needed. I think things are similar to now, with a lot of single parent homes, but I think that [what may be missing], is that involvement. It seems like that by 15 you’re supposed to be able to raise yourself. I think that at that age you still need guidance and for parents to “check” you.
BostonFab!: Why did you want to be in the entertainment world? And how did your upbringing contribute to you pursuing the field?
T. Whtilow: When I was 16…maybe 17, I moved to NY to model and worked out there for some time. But my mother was ill, so I was going back and forth trying to be there for her and my family while supporting my dream. Then I got the opportunity to go to the Florida Design school doing communications. I was doing a lot of the behind the scenes work and I just came to a point where I was really doing some soul searching; did I really want to do communications? Was modeling my thing? What really was my purpose? I was speaking about this with my mother and she just said to me, “I really see you on TV”. My mother is deceased now, so her words have really stuck with me and have guided me to work towards my ultimate goal.
BostonFab!: When a lot of talent like yourself move and ultimately stay in NY or LA, you’ve chosen to stay in Boston? Why?
T. Whitlow: I want to solidify myself in my own city. When someone ventures out to another market people are always going to ask around in your home city. Have you heard of her? What has she done? There’s something imbalanced about going into a new market blindly without any experience and I didn’t want to do that.
BostonFab!: If your ultimate goal is television, why do radio at 106.1 FM?
T. Whitlow: Commentating is at the forefront of the [T.Whitlow] movement. It allows people to hear who I am. Monday through Thursday they can hear T. Whitlow, 6 – 10 p.m. The only dislike I have with radio is that it’s not television. Otherwise it’s great!
BostonFab!: Let’s take a moment to talk about one of my favorite Boston based independent films “Business is War” directed by the late Kemal Gordon. You had a completely different look! Actually I didn’t even realize it was you that had played the role! How did you get involved with Kamal? What prepared you for playing the mother of the main character Dutty?
T. Whitlow: First of all I want to say rest in peace to Kemal Gordon. He was more than a business affiliate, he was my friend. We spent like the last three New Year’s Eve’s together with his family and mine and every year we were like – this is our year! This time we’re going to get it! Actually “Business is War” was the first movie I had ever done, no prior acting experience. There was something that he foresaw. It was the first time acting for Chris, who played Dutty, and I. Kemal just saw us as diamonds found in the crevices of the earth. Before we even knew what we were doing, somehow he saw it in us. He called me up one day and was like – I have this script and I think that you would be great for this part. At first when I saw the script it was only 24 pages and I had like two lines, but I was happy for my two lines! As he continued to develop the script, the character became more of an integral part of the story.
T. Whitlow: I think the way I was able to play the character of the mother the way that I did was that was because, as I mentioned before, my mother was ill for a long time, so I was very much a part of raising my siblings. In the scenes with Dutty it was like I was really speaking with my brother. The way I was able to go there was because it was real for me.
BostonFab!: Radio, commentary, acting, modeling, are you going to focus on just one medium or do you want it all?
T. Whtilow: I’m open to all of it, but the ultimate goal I have for myself is to be a commentator on E! In my write up in the Improper Bostonian I’m quoted as saying “Gulianna Rancic I’m coming for your head!” And it’s true! I eventually want to get into production as well, but basically, I want to work every night of the week and I’m fine with the sacrifice that comes with that.
BostonFab!: So, Ms. T., What makes you fab!?
T. Whitlow: That is a hard question! Well, what makes me fab! would be knowing where I came from and the direction I am going in. Never forgetting my ground roots and working to make my brand mainstream.
BostonFab!: Anything else you would like the people to know?
T. Whitlow: Keep your eyes and ears open. I strive for greatness…I have no other option. I am the embodiment of my mother’s spirit, my grandmother’s spirit and as the eldest in my immediate family I feel a responsibility to my family to uplift the Whitlow name to where it should be.
BostonFab!: Any up coming events?
T. Whitlow: I’ll be representing One Love, an organization that works with youth diagnosed with HIV/AIDS hosting a two-hour entertainment workshop on August 5th at Wellesley College. It’s important for me to work with the youth, to get my story out there and let the urban ladies who think that they can’t do it, know that they can.