Cover Feature

The Life of Award-Winning Actor, Glynn Turman

Photo courtesy of Bobby Quillard

From the bustling streets of Harlem to the star-studded stages of Broadway, Glynn Turman’s journey reads like a love letter to the city that never sleeps. Raised amidst the vibrant tapestry of Manhattan’s West Village, Turman’s early years were infused with the rhythm and soul of New York City. While his path to stardom may have begun in the shadows of skyscrapers, it was in the spotlight of high school where his true talent blossomed. Now, with over six decades of captivating audiences across screens both big and small, Turman stands as a towering figure in the world of entertainment. A master of his craft, he has seamlessly transitioned between acting, directing, writing and producing, each endeavor a testament to his boundless creativity and unwavering dedication. Yet, amidst the glitz and glamour, Turman’s heart remains firmly rooted in the streets that raised him, a testament to the enduring spirit of a true New York native.

At 12 years old, he stepped onto Broadway’s illustrious stage, a star in the making, in “A Raisin in the Sun.” But behind the curtain of his early success lay a journey riddled with unexpected turns. Growing up, Turman’s aspirations mirrored the grit and determination of his idol, Jackie Robinson, envisioning a life on the baseball diamond. It took an encounter with a mentor to see his true calling, leading him to the High School of Performing Arts, where his talents found fertile ground to flourish. As he traded in his glove for a script, Turman’s academic struggles dissolved, replaced by the soaring grades that mirrored his newfound passion. With his mother’s support and a newfound clarity of purpose, he embarked on a trajectory that would see him become a luminary of stage and screen.

“I had been bitten with the acting bug as a child. It didn’t take effect until after high school,” Turman said.

From there, Turman started his career wherever acting took him- from on and off Broadway to regional theaters or shows in small houses with low pay. In taking what came along, Turman landed a movie role alongside James Caan and Robert Redford. “It was quite thrilling,” Turman said. “We were all pursuing careers at the same time together.”

From low pay projects to now, Turman has been a part of hit series like “How to Get Away with Murder,” “Suits,” “Criminal Minds” and “Fargo.” Some hit movies include “Bumble Bee,” “Race,” “Takers” and “Rustin”

In a motion picture film, one of Turman’s favorite roles was Leroy “Preach” Jackson in “Cooley High,” a now iconic American classic. As a coming of age story, this role was something Turman himself could easily relate to. “People in Chicago to this day still call me Preach if they see me walking down the street. I always respond to it,” Turman said.

Another favorite role of Turman’s is Moses Wright in “Women of the Movement.” The powerful and challenging role still lingers with him.

While some roles are a favorite to play, Turman appreciates others for how viewers respond to them. The popular sitcom, “A Different World” reunited and is now touring across Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) 30 years after the show came out. “I give props to that show and our characters because they say we’re responsible for black students looking to pursue the HBCU experience,” Turman said. “I was able to put that on the list of accomplishments through my profession.”

In his years of acting, Turman has played and embodied dozens of characters with multiple personalities between each role, with some having a big impact on people. While it depends on if it’s a film, series or stage, different roles are his favorite to take on.

When Turman first lands a role, he starts by reading the script in order to understand the story, what his character contributes to the story and what his character’s job is in telling the author’s story. To memorize his lines, Turman will read them over and over again, putting them into his subconscious before bed, then first thing when he wakes up.

For Turman, the hardest part about getting into character is keeping himself out of the way when developing the character. Recently, he worked on “Horizon: An American Saga,” a film from his favorite genre, Western. While in wardrobe, he came across a cowboy hat he wanted to pick for his character to wear but stopped himself. “I realized that it was me, Glynn attracted to the hat, whose ego was great enough to wear it. But my character has an ego that wouldn’t let him wear it,” Turman said. As far as movie sets go, “Horizon” was amongst his favorites, enjoying himself around the horses, cattle and the mountains in Utah.

Turman spends a good amount of time behind the camera as a director as well. Although he prefers to be in front of the camera, his most memorable time directing was with the Wayans Brothers. For Turman, directing allowed him to be in a different world from what he’d been used to.

To celebrate the hours of acting Turman has done, he’s grabbed nominations and won awards including a few NAACP Awards, Ovation Awards and Emmys. He’s most proud of his Emmy award for the series, “In Treatment.” “They’re on my mantelpiece, I’m so proud of them all,” Turman said.

Although Turman has been in the industry for years, he notes that the hardest thing about the job is making it look as though you aren’t actually acting. “The actor’s job is mastering your craft,” he explained. When Turman finds himself having difficulty in a role, he relies on what he learned in training and surrounds himself with opinions he respects. “If something comes up that I question, I get another actor’s opinion or the director’s take on it,” Turman said. One part of a director’s job is to get through the difficult choices they’re making for their characters.

To take a step back from the industry, Turman falls back on being an equestrian. He has been a professional rodeo cowboy for more than 30 years and owns a small ranch outside of Los Angeles where he raises and trains horses with his family. “It’s my other passion and how I divorce myself from the industry, so to speak,” Turman said.

In a hard, competitive industry, values must be kept in order to continue pushing on and Turman lives by a few. “Be in it for the love of it. Not for fame or fortune,” he said. For people getting started in the industry, Turman says to use the tools available in a very competitive business. “That expertise, that craftsmanship will secure you a space as you go along in your journey as a performer,” Turman said.

To catch some of Turman’s recent and upcoming shows, check out “Percy Jackson’’ now on Disney+ and “Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1” in theaters this June. You can also currently stream “The Big Cigar’’ on Apple TV+. To learn more about Glynn Turman and the life the accomplished actor has lived, watch his excellent documentary, “The Legend of Glynn Turman’’ on Peacock, Tubi or The Roku Channel.