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Joshua Triplett Breaks Down the Pay Gap of Black Actors in Commercials, Juggling Family, Music and Becoming a Household Name

The name Joshua Triplett may not ring a bell just yet, but assure he’s most likely a face you’ve walked past in the store or seen on your television in between your favorite shows. His journey to grooming his commercially marketable face traces back to elementary school, when his principle saw something in him he didn’t know was there.

Growing up in Ohio, Triplett played sports in school like many students which came to a halt in high school after attending a Broadway play during a school trip to New York. It was then he decided he wanted to become an entertainer. Leaving New York after college he returned to Ohio where he pursed music. “That was the only thing I could do in Ohio. I got in the studio, started recording and started putting music on Soundcloud and iTunes. Eventually I collaborated with Young Buck and some other people.”

Fast forward, Joshua Triplett celebrates being a new Los Angeles homeowner this year with his wife and 6-year old daughter. He prides himself on the strides he’s made thus far, checking off goals he set to achieve by the age of 30, a major one, purchasing a home as an actor and musician based in the land he set to make his dreams come true.

2017 has treated Tripplet well, starring in numerous commercials, being among the cast for two hit shows, Netflix’s “Girl Boss” and BET’s “The Quad,” in addition to releasing an EP In Development.  As the year is approaching an end, Joshua Triplett is working to set himself apart from other actors in musicians, particularly in the LA market. He has an album in the works, where his music will accompany as a score to a film he’s creating. As for acting, Joshua has commenced for season 2 of “The Quad,” and says is in consideration for some major projects. He serves a spokesperson for Bissell Vacuums and is excited for the upcoming holiday season as him and his family star in a Walmart holiday commercial.

Joshua Triplett helped us get better acquainted with him as he explained his journey of how he got to where he is today, the importance of being black in entertainment, and balancing being a full time family man and entertainer.

When you reached the moment of deciding your future, did you chose one first over the other? (Acting or Music)
I think acting has overall has been my main goal. For music, I felt like I had to do it quickly because of the age. Say I wanted to be a pop star. I can’t be 40 starting to sing being a pop star. As an actor, I can be 40 years old and still be good at it. Like Morgan Freeman [jokes]. He’s going to be old the rest of our lives. Denzel Washington, he’s getting his shot and he’s older. He’s directing and branching off. Sometimes the pinnacle of actors careers don’t come until those later years.
Music I could do from anywhere, and social media was a powerful influence for that. When I went to LA, although it was for music, I found it very hard to get into those musical circles. It was like ‘I already got my people, I don’t know you, you’re new.’ I was like alright let me start acting. God opened up a lot of doors for me. I’m not the one to argue with God, so I stayed on that path.

If you’ve experience this already, when was the “mama I made it” moment?
I still get those moments every now and then. It’s so cool. My mother is super proud of me. I’m sad to say my father passed away before he could see the success of everything, but he always believed in me. He used to tell me ‘you’re gonna be huge’ and he would tell other people. She goes to church and she sees people who say ‘I saw your son on this TV show or I saw him on this commercial.’ 
I don’t think I’ll have that mama I made it moment until its ‘Mom here’s a house, here’s a car. Here are the fruits of my labor and my success.’ It’s always a continuation of something cool that I’ve never done and is experiencing for the first time in my career. It’s cool to say ‘Hey I’m an actor, I’m a musician. I’m doing everything I said I was going to do. Everything I said I was going to accomplish by 30 I’ve done.’ Thank God. It’s a breath of fresh air to say that. It’s a big accomplishment for me.

You have an EP out now, “In Development.” Talk about the process of creating this project.
I hadn’t done music in about 3 years and I was really missing it. I reached out to a producer friend of mine, flew him out to LA and said look I’m taking 30 days off from acting, I’m only doing music. We’re going to lock ourselves in the studio and we’re going to create as much as we can. I wanted at least 10 songs. We did that and shortly after I released my first single “Just Saying,” which received really good response. Then my second single “Commitment.”

My third single “Too Long” is a crossover of commercial pop, with a twist of R&B. Ultimately I think that’s where I’ll end up as an artist.  After releasing the 3 singles, time just flew by and it was a year later. I had a lot of music done but none of it fit into an album sonically. Finally I said I’m going to release an EP called “In Development” because I’m in development as an artist and I want people to know that I’m still working. It was a way for me to release my singles for those who didn’t get it, and for those who did, here’s some other stuff that you’ll like. It was a good package for me while I continue to work on the album. I’ve got a lot of good feedback and it gives people different sounds. It’s something on there for everyone, while I’m still trying to figure out who I am as an artist.

You’re married with a young daughter, and you’re pretty busy. Is it difficult being a full time family man and building a career as an entertainer? Does collaborating with your daughter on projects help?
It’s extremely hard. What makes it easier is the support from my wife. My wife is so supportive to my career to the point to whatever I need, she’ll make it happen. Being able to work with my daughter makes it easier because I don’t have to split that time. A normal day for me is: wake up, get my daughter to school, and hit 3 or 4 auditions before picking her up. 
Pick her up, then take her to her auditions or audition with her. By the time I get home it’s around 7-8 o’clock. Spend a little bit of time with her, get her caught up on homework, feed her and put her to bed. My wife gets off around 10 every day. I spend time with my wife until about midnight, then I go to the studio. I’m also a graphic designer so I may catch up on clients. I usually don’t get to bed until around 3 o’clock and that’s a normal day for me.  It’s hard to stretch it out, but at least I have my daughter throughout the entire day, so I don’t have to split my life.

Does your daughter have the musical and acting gene as well?
She does! She’s such a professional little kid. She’s amazing. As parents, my wife and I decided we didn’t want to push her in any direction. It just so happens she’s a really good actress and she enjoys it. We remind her all the time, you don’t have to be an actress and if there’s ever a time you don’t enjoy this, let us know. I hope not, because it’s paying for her college [laughs]. I think she’s going to dance, because she’s really good at that. I want her to mature at her own pace.

You’re a little bit of everywhere, yet you’re still on the rise. What has your experience been like getting people to connect your work with your face and becoming a household name?
It’s always a challenge when it comes to marketing. It’s so many avenues. Commercially I don’t expect to get any accolades, which is odd because people are always like ‘hey you’re that dude from the commercial,’ or ‘I saw you in this commercial and this one.’ I think I may have 10 commercials running right now, which is cool to be recognized in the street as the guy from the commercials.

When it comes to TV for instance “The Quad” or “Girl Boss” on Netflix, I think that’s cooler because people watch those shows and they tune in every week. They become fans of the shows and eventually the characters. I think if I can get my fan base to love watching me on a “Power” or “Scandal” (and I’m just putting this out into the universe), I think it’s a quicker and better way to get popular.

I have some friends who are social media influencers who didn’t really get popular until they did “The New Edition Story” and now they’re huge. I didn’t want to do it the social media way. Whenever I get a call ‘like hey jump in this sketch with me,’ I’ll definitely do it but that’s not necessarily how I want to build my fan base. I have to be patient and I don’t want to settle.

Describe what it’s been like being on two successful shows this year.
It was really cool, especially The Quad. I did a video audition in my living room. It was at a time where I wasn’t getting much TV work. I was getting a lot of commercial work but not TV. I ended up booking a bigger role than what I auditioned for.  I was super hyped. Like ‘yo I get to go to Atlanta!’ It was just a pilot. At the time it was called “The Yard,” it didn’t even have an official name. Maybe two or three days before filming I got a call that I got booked for a different role. I think the character fit me more.  It was an eye opening thing for me. The whole idea of getting the role, and at the time not wanting to do the audition, getting taken away, getting the role that was perfect for me was amazing. 
The show ended up getting picked up for a full season and then picked up for a season 2. They’re bringing my character back. You have to really have faith in the process and be patient. I didn’t go to a standard university, I went to a conservatory school specialized for my craft. It was always a question if I went to a university, would I pledge and live that life of what it would be like to be in a fraternity. 

We touched on the success of shows like “Scandal,” “Power,” “Blackish,” “The Quad,” that have representation of blacks on television and explore stories of black lives. Are you pushing with your own personal brand to be a part of more scripts and productions that represents brown and black people?
It’s so important for me; I didn’t even know that about myself.  In high school there were all black people and only like 3 white people and they were all like Eminem. . Because of who I am, I was always separated. I was the only one doing certain things like Honor’s Society, and at those events it was always white people.  I know there was stuff I enjoyed that my peers, friends and family didn’t. That’s what I thought. I didn’t experience racism until I was an adult. I noticed it in the industry coming here (to LA).

I noticed that my opportunities are limited. Although the pay is the same, I’m still not payed the same. Commercially you get paid residuals, so every time a commercial airs you get paid. I noticed I get casted in a lot of what is called African American Consumer Market commercials, which only air on BET, ESPN, TVOne, CW maybe. It’s limited the times it can air. There’s another market called General Consumer Market which is generally white people. They can show on any channel at any time. I was getting paid significantly less than my white peers for doing the exact same work. 
I noticed this was around the time of #OscarsSoWhite, and I’m like yeah these movies are so white, but these commercials are worse. It put something in me that says there needs to be more stories and presence of ethnic diversity in general, where general is considered ethnically ambiguous or ethnically diverse, because right now general is just white.  White people still aren’t comfortable seeing black people on TV, even if it’s them brushing their teeth selling toothpaste or a bowl or cereal. As black people we turn on the TV and we see all white people on the commercials, all white people on the TV shows, all white people on the movies, we don’t freak out. That’s the issue, we don’t freak out and we should.
Follow Joshua Triplett on Instagram and Twitter. His EP "In Development" is avaliable on streaming platforms. Stream it below:

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