Omari Hardwick says ‘POWER’ is the new crack

Photo credit: Steed Media Service

The second season of STARZ’s wildly popular drama series “POWER” aired Saturday, June 6, bringing in a whopping 1.43 million viewers. Just days before the show hit television screens nationwide, lead actor Omari Harwick and a few of his celebrity friends, including Erica Ash, Matt Cook, Tichina Arnold, Maria Haq and RonReaco Lee, came out for the red carpet premiere hosted by radio personality Stacii Jae in Atlanta at Regal Cinemas at Atlantic Station.The “POWER” premiere was sponsored by Xfinity and Comcast.

Directly following the screening of the first episode, a Q-and-A session with Hardwick, moderated by Rodney Ho of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, gave fans a chance to find out more about the show and the actor. This season is centered on Hardwick’s character “Ghost” trying to shed his drug game addiction and secretive life in the streets.

“POWER” even has Hardwick in a trance-like space along with his hard-core fan base. Hardwick admits becoming so intertwined with his character that it was extremely difficult for him to turn off the switch. “This show is the new crack,” he says.

Hardwick hung out with rolling out right after the premiere to give us the scoop on the new season, surviving in a fickle industry, and why Black actors need to lose the “Black” moniker if they want to make it in Hollywood.

Check out what he had to say.

What kind of feedback are you receiving from “POWER” fans for season two?

My fans are friendly. This show has become a drug. It has been interesting to watch from the moment I sat down with Courtney Kemp selling me on the show while trying to figure out how we could make it different. I challenged her on what could be different about this show. I wanted to know what could make this show not only last five seasons, but also stand out and become a show people will talk about forever. I wasn’t at a place in my career where I needed to be anything different or anything less than securing a major deal. I had done enough work, so to think about the initial meeting and blueprint she created was a great feeling. Watching people go crazy over the previous season has made me realize this show is the “new crack.”

What type of evolution can we expect to see from your character this season?

My character is unraveling a little more this year. I think viewers have definitely seen him a lot more composed. During season one, we watched him stuck in a love triangle between a wife and mistress while trying to keep Tommy satisfied, but still feeding him enough of this dream that he had. He is showing more of an emotional outburst this season. It is hard to keep all those lies and secrets in order. Things are getting chaotic this year for his character. Everybody else’s character is dealing with the consequences of what they are trying to get. Angela deciding to become a mistress while still being dedicated to being a federal prosecutor. Then you have Tasha, who makes a decision to stay to with a man that is cheating on her. This season is really about everybody putting their hands in the wrong cookie jar.

How has dealing with the same character for multiple seasons affected your life?

I’m definitely getting better at juggling Omari and my character. Season one was harder when it ended. I’m working on a film now where I play a parole agent. The character in my new film is totally the opposite of Ghost, which is great. It was a lot harder to get rid of Ghost between last season ending and then having to come back for season two. Now that this season is over I’m getting a better grasp of the complexities of the guy I am currently playing and Ghost is decreasing. Overall, I’m getting better at going back to Omari.

How do you create more power and leverage for yourself in the industry?

There is always more opportunity to produce films and television shows. I feel like I am no less than the Mark Wahlbergs or the 50 Cents. [I have] a slate of projects that I am ready to produce. I’m working on one that I just took on. I am in the[process] of acquiring the rights to work on the Gil Scott-Heron project. He is one of the most complex individuals we have ever known. I think the way that you leverage things out is not by sitting on the phone waiting for the call as an actor. If we really want to sustain ourselves in Hollywood, we need to stop calling ourselves “Black Hollywood.” If we really want to sustain ourselves like Sidney [Poitier] and Denzel [Washington] have done, then we just need to call it Hollywood.

Do you feel Hollywood has liberal views toward homosexuality?

Yes! I think equally they have a lot more to do with the conservative view as well. I think Hollywood is a microcosm of the macrocosm view of the world. Hollywood has become the pulse of what we already feel walking around as citizens. If you see little Brown boys running from cops, Hollywood can either help that view or admonish it. They can also create stories perpetuating the situation, which makes people believe the stereotypes they are selling. Hollywood can be both good and bad.

As a Black leading man on television, do you feel a responsibility to open up doors for others?

I’ve always said there is no role I play lesser than the role of giving kids opportunity. Acting is a hard dream, so if there is anyone who is committed to it that is awesome. I feel we are wasting our time here as actors if we are not leaving notes on how to get your foot in the door. It’s honestly a waste of disposition.

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