Video And Pics After The Jump
The highly anticipated third season of the hit crime drama Power premieres Sunday, July 17, at 9 p.m. Eastern on STARZ.
Vibe has rolled out a special digital cover featuring the show’s male stars, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Joseph Sikora, Omari Hardwick and Rotimi.
In the accompanying written piece, Shenequa Golding, sat down with the four gentlemen and Power’s creator and showrunner, Courtney A. Kemp, to gain insight into what makes Power a success and to get a glimpse into each character.
Courtney Kemp: I enjoy Twitter. I enjoy interacting with my fans. Some days I don’t enjoy. There are days when ‘I’m like really? You said that?’ The hardest days for me is when black women say things like ‘You don’t understand what it’s like to be a black woman…
VIBE: As if you’re not a black woman?
…and what Tasha is going through,’ And it never occurred to that woman that I have been in those shoes. Maybe I’m writing a story that is very similar. Like, it hadn’t occurred that maybe part of the story that I’m trying to tell, or represent, as opposed to this is how it should be, this is the story of things that happen to people. People get left.
People get left, and then it happens, and then it changes them. Then they grow up, and they become adults, or they become bitter, whatever it is, but it happens—because not necessarily should it be that you commit multiple murders and get away with it.
Kemp doesn’t let the cryptic statement linger in the air long before quickly getting back on point and speaking of Ghost’s murderous rampage at the end of last season. Her name change—It’s Ms. Kemp, no longer Mrs. Agboh—answers any questions.
We dissect the nuances and tiptoe around the intricacies that await Power’s latest chapter. With Tommy and Ghost at odds, and Kanan proving his undying revenge can save him even from hell fire itself, Kemp plays it close to the chest when asked if Tommy and Kanan will unite to take down their one-time brother-in-arms.
“Umm,” she muses. “I’d rather not answer.”
VIBE: What is Omari Hardwick’s definition of loyalty? And what is Ghost’s definition?
Omari Hardwick: Omari Hardwick’s definition of loyalty would definitely be if you’ve been down for me when it was really rough, if you checked for me when I was trying to figure out the terrain of that heavy-a** mountain and how to get up, if not to the top at least somewhat to a satisfactory place, then I’m rocking with you for life. Once you got me, you got me. Ghost, his definition is a little bit more self-serving.
So at the end of Season Two, Tommy and Ghost “break up,” if you will. Is Ghost/James/Jamie prepared to kill Tommy?
I don’t think he could ever do that. I think that’s what people root for. There’s always a twinkle of, like, ‘He can’t kill Tommy’—as our executive producer walks by right now Curtis [Jackson] is playing a character, in Kanan, that can do that. Kanan is a guy that separates himself from a lot of characters we see on dramas, on thrillers, on crime dramas because he is ruthless and could care less. He shot his son. Ghost could not only not shoot his son; he could not shoot his Caucasian brother Tommy Egan. He cannot. He might act like he can, but I don’t think he could ever come to that place.
When Ghost killed Rolla, that was hard for Ghost.
Very hard. That was his little brother. So now you’re asking me to stand in front of Tommy and do that? Come on now. It’s tears times 30.
VIBE: Tommy’s character is reactionary. When Ghost was thinking, he was the one making moves. Now that he has to be number one, will he learn something?
Joseph Sikora: I think one of the interesting aspects about Tommy is that his two biggest influences, in terms of the game, have been Kanan and Ghost. Kanan’s way, which is really more how we have seen Tommy operate in Season One and Season Two is very direct; you have to answer for what you have done. You made your bed, and I’m the one that is going to make you lie in it. And then the finesse of Ghost, thinking two steps ahead, making people believe that you’re going to do one thing, and then doing another. This is going to be the cohesion of those two ideas. This is going to be a season of realizations for Tommy, and a lot of those realizations are going to come from him saying: ‘You know what? How do I do this?’ and then realizing ‘I’ve been doing this. I’ve been operating by myself. I’ve been a boss.’
Are you, Joseph, frustrated with Tommy this season or are you proud of him?
I think he goes through a bit of a catharsis. In fact, I think that is the exact word I would use for his journey in Season Three. I don’t know if I’m necessarily frustrated or proud of him, but what my job is all the seasons is to play him in real time, and play him as honestly and truthfully as I possibly can. Meaning, you have all the good with all the bad and all the medium with all these colors and dynamics of his personality. So it just is—more than like or dislike. I hope the audience is as excited to watch as I was excited to play him.
What is it that you feel you bring to the character that the African-American community feeds off of?
My parents were in civil rights. I can’t say I progressed in the exact same way, but part of it was because of the example of my parents and having African-American people in my life since I was a baby. My heart has never been cold or awkward, or anything. I’ve always had the luxury of knowing that people are people. It’s almost, to me, being anything else would have to be pretend, and people can tell. It just translates. If there was ever any a hint of discomfort with anybody else of a different color skin, I think that would translate on television, especially having a brother that is Omari Hardwick, who is African American. I think that is all it is, and the camera doesn’t lie. People pick up on that stuff.
I know you can’t give it away, but is Tommy really prepared to kill Ghost?
Tommy is definitively preparing himself to kill Ghost, and then, hopefully, Tommy makes it out of Season Three. That is certainly not a guarantee. I’m here today, but I’m not in this scene. I will say that this is a very exciting dynamic season with surprising depths.
Your character is powerful and memorable. Are you nervous people will always look at you as Tommy?
I don’t mind if they do, because I truthfully believe in my talent to transform into a multiplicity of characters, and I think that would be the core audience. When it happens, they’ll say, ‘You know Tommy won that Oscar for playing a doctor. I’m so proud of him.’ I’ll take it. I’m so grateful. I’m blessed.
VIBE: Dre speaks a lot about loyalty, but doesn’t have much. How comfortable is Dre being number two?
Rotimi: Dre knows his position in the current moment. He still needs to learn a lot about the world he’s getting himself into. He’s very meticulous. He’s very to-the-point. He’s so brilliant that he’s willing to learn everything before he overtakes what’s in front of him. He can’t jump in and say, ‘I’m the man.’ You know, that’s a Kanan trait. But what he takes from Ghost is the fact that he knows he has to play certain positions to become king, and his loyalty is to himself and his daughter. Whatever can make his situation better, whatever can get him out of his situation with his child. So if it’s better to be with Ghost in this particular moment, then he’s going to do that. But we now know that Kanan is crazy! The fact that he could kill his own kid, that throws a red flag for Dre. So, now what’s option number two? Which is a better lifestyle? Which is safer for the kid? So his loyalty lies on his daughter, and he also goes to what makes sense for him. But he’s gonna play the two until it makes one.
Does Dre immediately earn Ghost’s trust, or is Dre going to have to earn some stripes?
In every situation, Ghost is standoffish to Dre because he knows what he’s capable of. He also knows he also worked with Kanan, so he can’t be fully trusted, but Ghost also knows that he needs him, and he’s shown that he can stand up by putting a gun to Tommy’s head in time. Ghost sees elements of himself in Dre, and that’s why he doesn’t trust him.
Ms. Kemp said she loves writing your character. She said, ‘Dre’s an opportunist and is the ‘drug world male hoe.’’ She said, ‘Dre will say, ‘I love you, baby’ over here and ‘I love you, baby’ over there.’ What do you think? Is that accurate?
[Laughs] Oh my god! I mean, she’s the writer, and I’ll play the heck out of this ‘drug world male hoe!’ I’ve got to keep my job! [Laughs] But, I agree, to a certain extent, because he is an opportunist. So if you balance it out with a male hoe in terms of women, it’s more of ‘What can I do?’ ‘What can I get from you?’ So, I understand the comparison.
But what’s Dre’s end goal?
He has to make sure everything’s positive to get what he needs.
VIBE: How is 50 Cent different from Kanan?
Curtis Jackson: It’s an extreme difference because Kanan is on one track. It’s just the hustler, street mentality. Those laws apply to Kanan, and he’s a guy that’s been incarcerated and hasn’t made any adjustments during that time frame; he just got more advanced at the criminal behavior, slicker energy. It’s no difference between the CEO of a corporate company and Kanan. He sees an option of acquiring your business by killing you. That cold-blooded instinct is in that guy who’s in the corporate space because he doesn’t care if everyone in your organization doesn’t have any way to eat. You see what I’m saying? The laws of what you do and don’t do in that lifestyle are very basic, and you learn really fast. The requirements aren’t very much. You don’t need a…
A bachelor’s degree of some sort.
Right! Or a degree to fit in. Some people say they don’t give a f**k, and then you have people who genuinely don’t.
Courtney Kemp said the underlining story is parenting.
The broad perception of what she’s doing when she says that is like, the parenting between the break in the household even though the circumstances are illegal activity. If it was traditional lifestyle, or, as we say, quote-end quote “the right way to do things,” it still affects the kids to a point. When the mother and father are not in the same house, in the same room and the same setup, the [children] can sway between the two. A lot of times when you think about it, you’re like ‘What the f**k is really driving it?’ Because I don’t have the energy for any of that or for my ex. [Shaniqua Tompkins] I’m over here doing everything else. She’s not a part of my life, and she doesn’t know anything new that would irritate her. She’s harboring old energy, but it’s consistently there. Saying those things consistently around him has jaded my son. So, now, he’s swayed towards his mom’s perception of things.
In Season Two, when Kanan proved how great of a parent he was by killing his son, were you apprehensive about that scene because of the current temperature publicly with your oldest son? Did you say to Ms. Kemp, ‘You know what, can we re-do this?’
I thought it would be more powerful, and I got a chance to channel into something that was more limited. The Kanan character is a lot more limited. In perception, people will get confused when I utilize the character to promote the series in different ways. I’ll promote The Kanan Tape, and they’ll see 50 Cent content bleed into the things that are Kanan concepts. They’ll look and go, ‘Is he acting or is he not acting?’ That character is really far—not far from the darkest statements made by 50 Cent—but from who I am, as a person. So if you ask Courtney or anyone else involved in this project if they’d met that person, they’ll tell you no.
Where did you get the aggression for that scene?
I used parts of my relationship, and this is why there’s a lot of the improvisation of ‘See, you f**ked up and you done made me f**k up.’ After he shot the boy, because he can’t let the boy live.
Obviously your character isn’t dead. What is Kanan going to look like this season?
When he comes back, he’s going to look like he’s been through a lot.
How much time did you spend with make-up artists?
I was coming in at 4 o’clock [in the morning].
What time did you begin the shoot?
Like 8 o’clock. I felt like I had to come the day before everybody. It even helped the performance that it was done like that.
What’s Curtis Jackson’s definition of power?
Well, power’s influence. If we took everything, it would be influence, and that person that would be able to influence the most people would be the most powerful person at that point.
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Photo CREDITS: VIBE/ Karl Ferguson Jr. & Katie Piper
Article written by Shenequa Golding