Back in 1990, an R&B group by the name of the Rude Boys released the modest hit titled “Written All Over Your Face.” And while the song itself quickly faded from public consciousness, the title has begun to take on a new meaning when applied to the relentless journey of actor Cory Hardrict.
While some actors are merely happy to be in the game, Hardrict visibly wears the focus and determination of a man who is on a mission to ascend to the highest of heights that Hollywood has to offer. Upon closer examination, that burden to be the best can be traced back to a young, 16-year-old Chicago native. Now, 22 years later, the fire to do more and be more continues to burn just as bright. We came to learn this, and a whole lot more during our exclusive interview with Hardrict.
Yes, it is indeed written all over his face.
We’ve watched your career continue to grow by leaps and bounds. How does it feel to know that you are beginning to get recognized for all of the hard work that you’ve been putting in?
It’s a great feeling to know that I’ve been acting for 22 years, and people are starting to say, “You know what, he’s more than Tia’s [Mowry] husband.” You know, I’ve always been focused on the work, and been OK with letting the rest of the stuff take care of itself. I made a promise to my mom when she passed, so I’ve just been focused on fulfilling what I told her back in high school, and that was for me to win an Oscar one day. I have to keep going until I get to that promise I made her. I still have a long way to go, but I already see the end road.
You mentioned this promise that you made to your mom. What were some of the things that you remember her instilling in you?
My mom made a big difference in my life because she gave me great morals. She taught me that you are going to have to get out here and work. No one is going to give you anything, and you just have to trust God and have a lot of faith. I definitely learned the value of hard work just by watching her. She worked at thrift shops, minimum wage jobs, but she always brought the food home and got me whatever I needed. I didn’t know that we were doing bad because she made it work. That meant a lot to me.
Well, let me just say that even if you don’t win the Oscar, I’m sure she’s incredibly proud of you … even though our hope is that you do win one day.
To me, it’s not just about the Oscar. It’s about just showing that where I come from, anything is possible. I’m the same as any of these kids that are in Chicago, Atlanta or any of these other cities. I want them to know that I’m just like them and that they can do it. That’s what this new film that I’m in, Destined, is all about. It’s about how your choices in life can alter your path in life, so it’s important to make the right choices.
So tell us about the film.
Destined is a powerful piece. I play Rasheed in one world, and Sheed in the other world. Rasheed’s character is set in the architectural world where he is introduced to corporate America after coming from a poverty-stricken community. He is eventually accepted by this corporate world and will have to make a decision about his people. In the other world, Sheed is a drug lord who would do anything for his family. In both worlds, it really comes down to decisions, and [the film] does a great job at showing how decisions — both big and small — can go a long way in determining your path in life.
It’s interesting to hear you talk about paths. Growing up, you made a conscious decision to not be a product of your environment. Did this role make you think about what it was like coming up in Chicago?
Yeah, because growing up on the South Side of Chicago, you always had friends who would be like, “Hey man, come and take a ride with us.” But I would always ask questions because I never wanted to get caught up into all of that. I would always use my wisdom and discernment and it allowed me to avoid a lot of the trouble that some of the guys that I was coming up with would find themselves in. And now their lives are changed forever. They’re in the system; it’s going to be tough getting a job … and that’s why when I read this script, I knew it was important for me to do because I had to get this message out. I had to show that there was a way for you to get out.
You come across as a perfectionist. Are you typically the last person to be satisfied with your work?
Yes. And I’m still not satisfied. In all of my work, I feel there are things that I could have done better. So I just learn from it and take it to the next job. And I feel like I’m always going to be that way because you’re right, I am a perfectionist. I’m just so hard on myself. I’m critical because I never want to fool people. I always want to give people honesty. When people are using their hard-earned money to come and see something that I’m in, they deserve to get my best. So I don’t want to waste anyone’s time. I always want them to see my characters and have it resonate with them. I want it to be a personal experience when they see my work.
I’ve been on enough sets to know that not everyone approaches being a perfectionist and a consummate professional like you do. How do you approach working with people like that?
If I see someone goofing or not approaching the work in the way that they should, I go silent. I’m not here for the small talk, and I make them feel it. I make them feel that this is serious. If there are too many jokes, I just won’t talk to them, and eventually, they’ll get that we’re here to work. And once they come around, then I might ease up a little. But honestly, once it registers with me who is like that, I don’t really deal with it, because I don’t have time for a lot of games. This is my career, and this is all of our livelihoods at stake. I have a family that is depending on me, so I have to make this all count. My thought is that everyone should approach their work in that way. There is always someone waiting in the wings to take our spot, so we should honor the opportunity that we’ve been given.
With a film like Destined, is there more pressure on you given that you’re the lead?
No, because it’s all just a piece of the bigger puzzle. Being the lead just means that you are number one on the call sheet. But to me, there’s no difference in being number one or number twenty. Because when I was that, I still had the same passion and approached the job in the same way. I’m always going to approach my life and my career in that way, no matter what role I have. It’s worked well for me so far, so I think I’m going to stick with this approach.