Black power couple, Tyrell and Latrina Washington are the creative producers behind the first-ever hip-hop headlined, 2022 Super Bowl halftime show. The Hollywood couple is defying industry stereotypes all while balancing family, business, and love.
Some of their most notable credits include supervising/creative producers on Jimmy Fallon’s new Clash of the Cover Bands show, and associate creative producers on The Voice, America’s Got Talent, American Idol, and Legendary. They have performed as dancers and/or actors in several films and television shows, including Dreamgirls, Muppets, Norbit, Blades of Glory, Goliath, Stomp the Yard, You Got Served, and Step Up. They’re currently gearing up to serve as Performance Producers on NBC’s American Song Contest, hosted by Kelly Clarkson and Snoop Dogg!
Latrina and Tyrell were not always the dynamic duo that exists today. Although quite a force of nature on their own, the two started off paving their own paths to success. Hailing from Dallas, TX, Latrina was the protégé of Debbie Allen. Touring with the industry icon as early as 12 years old before beginning her own career as a choreographer and aerialist. Tyrell, raised in San Jose, CA began street dancing before launching his career as an entertainer. Each on their individual journeys, the two converged while working together and began a friendship, the rest ,as they say, is Hollywood history.
We had a chance to sit down with the Washington’s and talk about their success in entertainment, finding a good work-life balance, the future of creatives and of course black love.
Suavv: The Super Bowl’s LVI halftime show this year was legendary, what was it like for you both when you found out you would play a part in its culmination?
Tyrell: Well, the moment we found out, it was a great feeling. We work with the choreographer, Fatima Robinson a lot. I think to do the super ball with her was one of the highlights of our career.
Latrina: And it’s not just a Super bowl. It was the first hip hop headliner ever doing the super bowl, so there’s that
Suavv: With such a historical achievement in the books how do you wind down? How do you transition back into the swing of things?
Tyrell: I think we’re still in the process of transitioning.
Latrina: We never stopped. As soon as we finished the super bowl, we were onto the next gig, the next job. We are performance producers on this new show called American song contest with Snoop Dogg and Kelly Clarkson are the host and it’s like a state-to-state competition with all these artists. There are actually quite a few artists that you’re going recognize, big names.
Tyrell: It’s a competition show between singers from each region. So all 50 states and other territories will pick one representative to compete for each state and territory. It’s similar to the voice, but there are no coaches involved. It’s all strictly for the music.
Suavv: How important do you think these types of shows are for creatives? Whether you’re in music, dance, or any form of entertainment, do you believe that they’re a good starting platform? Does it serve the creative in more of an educational sense or do you feel like it can harm, the creative process or the individual in any sort of way?
Tyrell: As far as what we do, we’re performance producers and creative producers on the show. We come up with a vision. We put it on paper and deliver it to the network. If it’s green-lit, then we design the lighting, the wardrobe, the sets, and staging, whether it’s makeup or wardrobe or band pieces. With all of that, it helps creatively, putting us to the test like on an award show versus your typical competition show.
Latrina: We’re developing these artists. They come into the show, and they’re like, oh, I have experience. I’ve performed many concerts and this and that. And we’re like, yeah, but have you done television because you have to look at camera four and then go to camera nine. Explaining this or also that your hands are blocking your face on camera is sort of retraining them for camera versus live concerts.
Suavv: What would you say is your biggest lesson learned while working in Hollywood behind the scenes and the advice that you would give to someone looking to become a creative producer?
Latrina: The biggest advice I have is, absorb everything around you. Even if you don’t think that’s your department, you should watch some of the production members and crew members and what, what they’re doing and why they’re doing it and how everything runs. That’s the only way you can really learn. You can, learn through online class classes, books and stuff but the actual environment is the best place to learn.
Tyrell: Yeah, going through the experiences it’s very educational. Like she said, absorbing everything, just being open to take in all different skills and different facets of the entertainment industry…You’re kind of like fulfilling your backpack of tools to get through this industry that you want to grow in.
Suavv: Obviously you have a plethora of credits. The list goes on and on. What is something you haven’t done that you’re looking to jump into?
Latrina: For entertainment purposes, I think we were looking forward to like being a future production company and future director over here (Tyrell) and executive over here (Latrina), just making our way on up.
Suavv: A production would be truly awesome, love the idea. How would say you would balance a large-scale endeavor such as that with your home life?
Tyrell: I think with us, we know that we can’t do it by ourselves. We have a small village of people who come and help, and that really love our kids…We just balanced each other out. I might go to work. She might stay home with the kids first and then go to work…We keep swapping.
It’s a devised plan and strategy every single day. Because everything is always spontaneous. The only people that have consistent schedules are the kids…We plan throughout the week. What is the goal? Like are we trying to hang out with the family this weekend? Are we trying to go out and eat? We love what we do as well as we are raising a family in the entertainment business.
Latrina: We’re not social people, so we’re not out at the clubs and trying to network and do things. We go to work. We work all the time and then when we get home, anytime that we have, we spend with the kids. Then when it’s our time, when they go to sleep, I’ll have to shut the laptop on this guy and say work is done. Let’s just relax, unwind with a glass of wine and watch some TV, so that we can have our time as well.
Suavv: Taking that into consideration, how does your business dynamic work with your interpersonal relationship? Are you able to separate the two or do you feel like it’s a perfect blend?
Tyrell: Everyone asks us this question.
Latrina: We are attached at the hip and we’re literally best friends. It just works for us.
Tyrell: It clicks, the chemistry is just really good. It’s not always perfect on a job…but we know what the common goal is. Sometimes we compromise as long as everything turns out great in the end. We come home, and we digress. We talk about it. Plus, we can’t wait to get home and talk about what we saw at the job.
Suavv: Out of curiosity, since you work together so often, I’m sure there are times when you’re on opposing sides. In this case who’s more competitive between the two of you?
Latrina: Yeah. It’s definitely him. I’m pretty passive.
Tyrell: I like the competition. I’m not a poor sport if something goes wrong. I’ll take the loss, So. I actually love the challenge. It helps me push more and learn more.
Suavv: Have you guys ever had a dance-off?
Tyrell: Not yet, it may happen on this new show that we’re doing for American Song Contest.
Latrina: Yeah, we’re split into two different teams soo we might get a little competitive.
Suavv: So you come home, you spend time with the kids. You relax, you try to make time for one another and then you go back to work. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that happens at work obviously with n your roles. How much of that do you feel affects your relationship?
Tyrell: I look at it like this: everybody’s human, right? We all go through situations, there are ups and downs. I think we just lean on each other and we make sure that we separate anything that’s traumatizing or negative We shouldn’t bring it to work. We separate that. We figure out a way to work through it. And then when we go to work, Work is work. We don’t bring anything from home to work… We concentrate on the family.
Latrina: Then after 20 years of being in the industry, sometimes there’s not a lot of shocks after. You’re kind of like, okay, yeah, this, I kind of figured that would happen.
Suavv: What would you say has been an experience that has taught you the most working in entertainment?
Latrina: For me, I was Debbie Allen’s protégé and she used to take me everywhere around the world into meetings. She’d be like come watch how this is done. So I learned, very early, a lot of the ins and outs and the entertainment from Debbie Allen.
Tyrell: As far as me I kind of learned as I went, so every single project or job…good or bad. I’ve learned from every experience in order to try to create a better investment…One of the things I learned also, is your hustle doesn’t stop. You’re always hungry. You’re always grinding.
Suavv: Absolutely, the grind is a big part of success in Hollywood, but have you ever had a job where you were just like, man, this isn’t it?
Tyrell: None specifically…It’s just like seasons, sometimes I go, I can’t wait till winter to wear my peacoat or my bomber jacket, and then you’re like this is way too cold. I don’t like it. It happens, just as much as the good ones happen they are bad ones…It can be different things that actually made it a not-so-great experience. It can come down to one person, management, the project, the schedule, or something that happened in your life.
Latrina: And it depends on experience because someone who’s green in the industry, they might have the best time of their lives just being there. They’re excited to be there versus somebody who’s experienced and you’re like, this is not right.
Suavv: Throughout these experiences have you had any significant failures? More specifically ones that helped propel you to where you are now.
Latrina: I think for me, I don’t know if it was career-wise but more on a personal level with everybody in the industry. You think people are your friends and then when you’re down, in need of help they’re not there. It’s an eye-opener of people can tend to just use each other. For me, that was a reason to not be so vulnerable to people moving forward.
Tyrell: Yeah! I don’t know if it’s considered a failure, but I suffered an injury. It took me out for like two and a half years almost. And from there just understanding that there’ things that need to be done in order to have a progressive career. Knowing that I was dependent on dancing only, it propelled me to start thinking bigger. Stepping into other doorways of opportunity; challenging myself, learning more about the industry and understanding that you are more important than just the job.
Suavv: The culmination of all those things you’ve encountered has been apart of your evolution from dancers to creative producers. How would you all describe the short and sweet of it?
Latrina: For me when you’re at the top of your career like we were as dancers. When you’re working consistently it starts to become Groundhog’s day. Every stage starts to look the same, whether it be the Oscars or some house of blues concert. It starts feeling the same. I said then it’s time to move on because this is not fulfilling. I’m not passionate about it.
From there we got into choreography. I loved doing that, but then there was more required from us doing choreography. It’s like, oh, so I kind of have to direct and be creative. Okay. That got us excited and I was like, oh, creative producing. We started doing that. It’s just a new passion that I love and it’s a new high, adrenaline, that I was missing for a long time. So that’s why we’re here now.
Tyrell: I mean, if I could say my side of it, I was dancing with Beyoncé when she first decided to go solo from Destiny’s child. That was great, I was with her for promo and The Destiny’s Child stuff. Then from there, I said you know what, it’s time for me to not only do Beyoncé cause I was getting considered just a Beyoncé dancer.
But I was like, no, I’m a dad, I’m a professional. I do other stuff, but that’s all you saw that I did. So I chose to not go on tour. I chose to start on auditioning for other choreographers, opening up lanes to audition for commercials. As far as like print work and modeling and that propelled me into dancing and different areas of the industry after that.
Suavv: Lastly, considering going back to love and family, with all you know about the entertainment industry, how would you both feel if you children decided to follow in your footsteps?
Latrina: We’re hoping they go another route, but they’ve done some entertainment, things with us They’ve done commercials and videos. We give them the option for instance we’ll say, “Do you like doing this? Do you want to do this? Do you want to audition?” If they say no, then we don’t push them. They are in dance and karate, things like that, but we’re not pushing them to be in those other things as a career.
Tyrell: ..With them, we’re just going to be supportive no matter what..
We’re just like regular people, but we do amazing things. We are the black family raising kids in the industry. So it can be done. There’s too many people saying it can’t, but it can be done.
Tyrell and Latrina Washington, the black power couple behind the scenes are blazing ahead making room for a future generation of black creatives. Be sure to keep up with the Washington’s on their new musical competition show American Song Contest that premiered March 21st. on NBC.