Author Interview "Larry Harris"
Larry Harris (pictured in the center) is a 39 year old author of the book ‘The Mask’ available at Amazon.com and his book was featured twice in Urban Freedom Magazine. He’s also the creator, writer & director of the new hit Youtube web series Chapter 2. Larry was born and raised in Baltimore, MD. He received his Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Ashworth College in Atlanta, GA. Alongside his husband Leonard Martin they created ArieCan Productions, LLC. A new production company located in Baltimore, MD. A lifetime of ups and downs lead Larry to face his demons, reveal some truths and write his first memoir. Though some of his paths lead him to sadness and pain. It was a big leap of faith that changed his life forever. "The Mask" is a story of heartache, pride, determination, resilience and love. When asked why write this book his answer was simply, "my past does not define my future it’s a part of who I am. I believe that we all can make lemonade out of the lemons that life gives us. And that’s exactly what I’ve done. I have a story to tell and my journey is not over yet, it's just beginning. And self-discovery never felt better". This book shines a light on the man you think you know and will introduce you to the man he truly is.
-Growing up, did you both always know that you wanted to pursue a career in writing/production?
Larry - I’ve always loved writing I never thought about it being an actual career until I started writing my series. As for the production side of things I’ve found a whole new love for the business and I’m seeing how the two (writing & production) go hand and hand.
Leonard – For me writing I always wanted to tell my side of the story. I used to come home from school and in my free time just write. After seeing a lot of different web series I knew what I wanted to do and that was create my own stories and produce them under my own company to give me more creative control.
-How did the "Chapter 2" web series come about?
Larry – Leonard and I were coming from DC and I said, “I want to start my own web series, since nobody want me in theirs I’ll create my own”. And it’s so funny because “Chapter 2” was one of four backup series concepts I had created. We had auditions for a series that had six main characters along with ‘Chapter 2’ which at the time of the auditions only had three main characters. No one showed up we liked for the other series and I figured okay well since this is only a three person cast this should be easy to cast. So I asked some of my friends if they would do it and before I knew it I had a cast of six. I knew then that ‘Chapter 2’ was the series I was always meant to do.
-What was the first ever web series that you both watched?
Larry – Leonard woke me up one day and said, “OMG Larry it’s this girl on this web series she’s so funny you got to watch it”. I was hesitant at the time but I watched it and loved it. And that web series was ‘Triangle’. Which oddly enough was one of the series I wanted to be on. I didn’t care if I was an extra or had a speaking role. I just loved the series and wanted to be a part of it.
Leonard - It was one day I was scrolling on YouTube and I came across ‘Triangle’ the web series and the one girl who stood out the most to me her name was Kiko. She was so funny I watched a couple episodes on my way to the movies with my friends. It was just something about Kiko that pulled me in.
-What’s one thing about “Chapter 2” that you both believe keeps viewers tuning in?
Larry – Well for me it’s the definitely the characters. People get so invested in the characters and they definitely let us know it. They have their favorites and they let us know who they liked and didn’t like, who they love, who they want to fight lol. And ‘Chapter 2’ is not predictable you think you know what’s about to happen and then BOOM your jaw drops.
Leonard – A few things I can say about ‘Chapter 2’ that keeps the viewers tuned in is the twists, turns and betrayal that’s something people really can relate too. And they really feel as though they are a part of that world. ‘Chapter 2’ stands out from a lot of the other web series out there because we focus on the storylines and plots rather than your body and how much skin you show. And I think a lot of people like to see that difference.
-All of the actors in your series are all from Baltimore and the DMV area, how does this influence the story?
Larry – Yes that was very important to me. Baltimore has some of the most talented and unique individuals you’ll ever meet. And I wanted to put my city on the map for something other than violence. I wanted to show the world that we are more than what you see on the six o’clock news. Having the series filmed in Baltimore City brings a certain uniqueness that I feel is missing in some of the web series and TV shows I see. So when you hear historic landmarks like Druid Hill Park or Lexington Market being mentioned you know what they’re talking about. The slang that’s used in the series is 100% Baltimore and I love that.
-What’s been your favorite episode of the web series to write/shoot so far?
Larry – In season one it was episode 4 ‘A Not So Merry Christmas’. The episode I wrote was about a Christmas party and I had a lot of extras to be in that episode. And the day of filming one by one every extra that I had backed out and the cast had learned their lines to interact with the extras. I was upset because I wasn’t sure how I would pull off an episode that basically had to be scrapped because the people I needed didn’t show up. So I had to think and I told the cast to give me some time and I wrote a new script in 45 minutes and they knocked it out of the park. That’s also the first episode that we received over 10,000 views. That will always be my favorite episode.
Leonard – For me I love the season one finale. It was jaw dropping with all of the different plots coming out and the ending left you speechless and wondering what happened. We received so many emails from viewers asking questions about the different characters. To date that is our highest viewed episode. The cast really gave us their all while shooting the finale. They are a great group of people and I’m glad we have them on our team.
-Now that you have produced two seasons of your show, what lessons have you guys learned, and what would you do differently on a future web series, if anything?
Larry & Leonard – Oh goodness we’ve learned so much because we had to learn everything on our own. I reached out to different people for questions about certain things and no one responded so that forced me to get on YouTube and we learned from there. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is never be too busy to answer anyone’s questions. We’ve learned a lot from season one of what not to do in season two. From lighting to angles to editing to scenery. Season two of ‘Chapter 2’ will by far be one other best series you’ll see on the web. We really took our time this season to make sure that all bases were covered. Going forward we know what to look out for we know what works and what don’t. The mistakes we made in season one was a huge blessing I appreciate that now I didn’t at the time. As a creator and director you have to grow and mistakes are growth.
-Larry, you’re also an author. Tell us a bit about your book and what you believe is the biggest difference between writing your book and writing your web series.
Larry – My book ‘The Mask’ was something that was in my heart to do for years but I kept putting it off. I first came up with the idea to write about my life back in 2004. I always wanted to be remembered I always wanted my life story to be told. So I finally sat down and I had journals from my early 20’s that I was going to use. The crazy thing is I ended up not using any of my journals and I just started typing. And before I knew it I had ‘The Mask’. ‘The Mask’ is a book where I had to be honest with myself and tell my truth and not be afraid of what others would think about me. I talk about everything from my childhood abuse at the hand of my uncle to foster care, suicide, the death of my mother and the guilt I carried for years. I’ve been through so many horrible things in my life and I didn’t let that stop me and I felt like my story could help someone who’s going through the same or similar things as I did. I said things in my book that I’ve always wanted to say but was too afraid to say in person. Writing my web series is very easy because the characters I created are in some way the dysfunctional people in my life. When I write for ‘Chapter 2’ it just flows out of me and I love the different storylines and scenario’s we have. Writing lets me be creative and I love that.
-What message do you want people to get from both your book and your web series?
Larry – The message I want people to get is no matter where you come from, no matter your circumstances no matter what life throws at you, you can make out. I say in my book that ‘my past does not define my future’ I say that because I didn’t allow myself to become a victim even though I was victimized. I didn’t want to be like the people who hurt me I wanted to be better and do better. With that being said my book and my web series is just proof that anything is possible. Trust in God and be patient.
Leonard – From the book I want people to understand that you are not alone and there are people out there just like you and we all go through a struggle. You have to find a way to pick yourself up and not let anyone take you down. And from the web series I want people to understand that being yourself is key and trying to live your life for someone else is not the way to go. Love yourself and be proud of who you are.
-For anyone trying to write a book or produce their own web series, what tips do you have for them?
Larry – Take your time don’t rush anything and really research what it is you want to do. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or ask questions. If you’re going to ask for help be open to receive it. Also when writing your book remember it’s YOUR book. No one can tell you how you experienced whatever it is you’re writing about. You also have to have a thick skin because not everyone will like your work. But just believe in what you’re doing and if this is a dream of yours never give up. You will hear one hundred no’s but all you need is that one yes. Once you get it it’s up to you to make other’s believe in your work as much as you do.
Leonard – My advice would be to just write everything down even if you don’t think it sounds right. Do not worry about trying to make it pretty just get it all out. Once you do that you will have time to go back and fix whatever you think needs fixing.
-Larry, what can we expect next from you and the “Chapter 2” team?
Larry – My goal is to have is to get a production deal with a major network and have ‘Chapter 2’ on TV. The men and women that I have the honor of working with are truly amazing and I’m forced to give my best because that’s what they’re giving me. I want my ‘Chapter 2’ family to eventually branch out and create, inspire and develop their own shows. All I ask of them is when they’re on that stage receiving their Emmy’s is to not forget me lol. I’m really excited for the future of ‘Chapter 2’. The plots and twists we have is something that I know will grab the viewers’ attention. And I’m so proud to see my idea come to life.
-Leonard, I’m sure you're one of Larry’s biggest supporters, so I have one last question, well "challenge" for you. If you had to persuade someone to read Larry’s book "The Mask" in a tweet (140 characters), what would you say?
Leonard – I would say if you’re looking for a book to take you on an emotional roller coaster, a book about self-discovery, a book about love, forgiveness and self-worth. Then I suggest that you buy ‘The Mask’ right now at Amazon.com
The Mask is a gripping story of one mans determination to not let his past define his future. Author Larry A. Harris takes you on his journey from childhood to adulthood. The paths he took and the journeys he's had lead him to where he is today. Anger, passion, love, forgiveness. Is he the tough guy with the big persona or is he a shy insecure guy masking who he really is? Get to know the man behind 'The Mask'.
The Mask by Larry Harris available at Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Mask-Larry-Harris/
YouTube: Chapter 2 ‘The Web Series’: http://www.youtube.com/c/ArieCanProductions
Facebook Fan Page: Chapter 2 ‘The Web Series’: www.facebook.com/chapter2webseries/
Facebook Fan Page: ArieCan Productions: https://m.facebook.com/ArieCan-Productions-
Instagram Page: ArieCan_Productions: https://www.instagram.com/ariecan_productions/
Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/ariecanproduct1