Harry Lennix sat down with EBONY to discuss the beginning of his television and film career.

Through his tenure and after graduating from Northwestern University, Lennix performed “strictly” in professional theaters around Chicago for about six years, he said.

The stage actor even started his own theater company, Legacy Productions, while portraying Malcolm X in a play about a fictional meeting between him and Martin Luther King Jr.

“It wasn’t really until maybe [A Mother’s Courage:] The Mary Thomas Story that I did with Alfre Woodard for Disney that I started encroaching into television and film,” the actor said.

Although the television movie was how Lennix  “got into the attention of Hollywood,” it was the cult classic The Five Heartbeats, a 1991 film by Robert Townsend about the trials and tribulation of a Motown-era-like group, that was his access to Black Hollywood.

The Five Heartbeats got me into the Black Hollywood circle because of the Robert Townsend of it, the Michael Wright, the Leon and the Diana Carroll and all these great people,” he said.

Lennix continued, “Although it wasn’t a box office smash, people saw it, and they liked the movie. To a lot of people until this day it remains iconic.”

After 27 years and countless BET reruns, The Five Heartbeats will be produced as a Broadway play.