(Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)

(Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)

Starring as Officer Kevin Atwater on NBC’s hit procedural “Chicago P.D.,” LaRoyce Hawkins has spent three years learning and growing in his character’s shoes. With the new season underway, Hawkins marvels at how his life and career seem to parallel that of his fictional counterpart.

“As LaRoyce Hawkins matures, so does Atwater,” Hawkins explains. “I’m getting a lot more comfortable as an artist, being a regular on a series and getting familiar with the camera and my castmates and the business of it all. And Atwater follows suit. We notice him being a lot more ambitious in his position on the team and wanting more for his life. I think that’s what’s interesting about playing a character that’s lasted this long. Three years is a long time for a series — hopefully we’ll grow more and more. We’re seeing this guy’s dreams come true and see him fail sometimes and see him have powerful victories. That happens in our lives, as well, as regular people.”

And he’s excited aboutthis season.

“One thing I can say is that there is going to be a lot more action,” he shares. “We’ve got excellent directors and the writers have been doing a great job making sure that we keep people on the edges of their seats at all times. The storylines, in my humble opinion, are a little more powerful than they have been in the past.”

Hawkins grew up in the Chicago area, so the show’s subject matter is literally close to home. A product of the nearby suburb of Harvey, Hawkins says his hometown gives him a unique perspective that informs the way he approaches the role.

“I’m very familiar and grew up in a lot of these places that we talk about,” he says. “I’m thankful that Atwater is from Harvey, just like myself. It’s very much a reflection of Chicago but not in Chicago. But you’re very familiar with the lifestyle. It influenced me and definitely gives me a lot to bring to the table. Atwater has insight on things, as well. It really influences me and I’m thankful that this whole situation happened right here at home.”

For Hawkins, the benefit of working so close to where he grew up gives him ample opportunities to reconnect with his community. Giving back matters to Hawkins in a way that informs his approach to everything he does.

“I’m on my way to my old high school to host a pep rally for homecoming,” Hawkins reveals. “To be able to go back to my school and my neighborhood and be an example of hardwork and dedication — those are the things I’m proud of. I prayed for a platform and a voice and to be able to have a positive influence. Any moment where I can reach back and share my experience with my friends and family, I take pride in those things.”

And as he grows as an actor, he’s learning to be malleable in the ever-changing world of film and television. He doesn’t take losses too hard.

“I watch big homies like Elias Koteas battle and struggle with this concept, as well — but letting go [is] so important,” says Hawkins. “We’re actors, so we’re sensitive to how we want to approach things. Being on TV, it’s sometimes hard to find that moment and relish the experience. But being able to move on to the next situation, it’s a gift. It’s a talent that I don’t think a lot of people understand. In a situation where a show gets canceled and it’s over, just let it go and allow whatever’s next in your life.”

 

Stereo Williams

Todd "Stereo" Williams, entertainment writer based in New York City. He co-founded Thirty 2 Oh 1 Productions, an indie film company.