Women know the name Omari Hardwick. While he’s been on their TV and movie screens for more than a decade, his name is often brought up due to the fact that the man is fine. He’s the sweetest of eye candy. But sorry ladies, he’s happily married.
Fortunately, the handsome actor is just a click away on our television screens as the leading man in 50 Cent’s new series “Power,” which was renewed for a second season after just one episode. His character, James “Ghost” St. Patrick, has one foot in the world of legal hustles and the other in the streets. His wife Tasha (played by Naturi Naughton) doesn’t understand why he wants to aspire to more than being a drug lord.
“Power” is unique as it’s created by Courtney Kemp Agboh, a Black woman, and produced by a rapper. But it’s technically not a “Black show.” For Hardwick, it was divinely ordained. The word “power” was what his wife prayed over his life when the script of a show of the same name came across his desk.
Hardwick recently spoke with Centric about how the show masterfully came about, his hopes for the series and his fate on another drama– “Being Mary Jane.”
CENTRIC: Tell me about your role as Ghost in 50 Cent’s series “Power.”
OMARI HARDWICK: Ghost is sort of this larger-than-life figure who is coming from a smaller-than-life place. He’s from a part of New York where he thinks his only ticket out of that environment is of course narcotics. He goes into the life heavy with his best friend who’s played by Joseph Sikora. And life ensues from there. He’s a dreamer at heart. I think that’s one of the things that makes him extremely special. There’s such a dreamer there. Obviously he seems on paper to be a bad person who’s using his influence in not such a great way over the city and over all types of people that are demanding his product, cocaine, but at heart, he’s a dreamer and wants to be an entrepreneur who opens clubs not only in the New York area, but also internationally. He finds his way away from the dirt, the grimy, constantly looking over his shoulder. A father of three. I think there’s definitely a complex relationship with a higher power. He’s incapable of living the same morality that I think deep in his heart he’d like to be a part of. I think there lies the struggle you’ll see with him.
CENTRIC: I read you initially turned down the role until your wife asked about it, which you said she rarely does. What’s the story there?
OH: Yeah she prayed for power and dominion over me and for about 60 days just in general. It had nothing to do with anything. [She thought] as a budding actor, that probably shouldn’t be labeled ‘budding,’ I should’ve already been at a particular place. Being a praying person, she prayed for power … she kept using [that word] for about 60 days in a row. There wasn’t really a turning down ever of the role. There was a decision to not necessarily respond immediately when I was offered the role and told that they wanted to meet with me. It was more of a well, ‘let me sit and think about this.’ I knew the players in terms of [50 Cent] being an executive producer … how directly involved he was was my issue. It was a timing thing. I was really busy. I was literally in the throes of trying to pay homage to this young beautiful brother [Trayvon Martin] that was slain, wrongly to me. In the midst of that you get a script across
your desk that again…obviously the character was really colorful. A blind man could see that. Just looking at Ghost you would be very excited about playing it if you felt like you had the ability to play it, which I was never lacking the confidence in the ability to play this guy. At times you might be a little hesitant because it’s a lot to take on. I was blown away by my meeting with Courtney [Kemp Agboh] and where she was going with the character and the other characters. And that was big for me–to make sure every character has different colors. I don’t want to be one and done. So my thought was we’re going to try to make a run out of this and really try to get five to seven seasons. It was just one of those things I didn’t jump off the building and go, ‘I’m all in.’ I just wanted to make sure it was worthy of how big it was being made to seem. And it seemed real big and it seemed ambitious and it seemed groundbreaking. We often know that if we’re a little bit skeptical about something that could be one of two things. It could b, ‘yes you shouldn’t have done it and you’re glad you said no,’ or it could be the greatest thing you ever said yes to. For this I’m glad and so humbled to say it’s been the latter for me.
CENTRIC: Fans had a love/hate relationship with you as Andre on “Being Mary Jane.” Now that you’ve gone back to your wife on the show, can you tell us if you’ll be back next season?
OH: I can’t tell you. I told you the story of praying for power then me literally booking a show called “Power.” If you do the math on it, to go from an inception of a prayer using the word power then to actually book a job that literally is the same word that was in my wife’s prayer, it’s going to be real hard for me to answer whether I can come and play with another show. This show is so daunting of a task and I don’t even know if it would be a smart business move. It’s always gotta be about truth. When that show was more set up for the real juice of the storyline to revolve around the relationship between my character and [Gabrielle Union’s]. You can do the math on that. If I’m not with Gabby’s character anymore, I don’t know how much stuff is left there to be truthful.
CENTRIC: Any fans ever stop you in the street to lay you out about Andre?
OH: Come on, man. [Laughs]. They stop me on all kind of roles. Stopping me for “Being Mary Jane” is one of those things you start to realize that it did so much for BET. I’m so proud of Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil in what they’ve done, and proud of BET for taking it on. I wanted to be part of the ship that attempted to sail BET in a better direction and I hope from you to every viewer, that you felt like the direction of BET is definitely going in a better direction. It’s an interesting come up because it almost feels like a lot of them don’t know of the 11 years now of acting that I’ve done so it kind of shows that some people only watch shows that are about us and for us. And I’ve played in stories that are not necessarily for us or about us. That’s just such an interesting perspective to be on this side of my career. Obviously in many ways it’s just taking off, but in good ways I’m definitely tried, trued and tribulated. For them to come up to me as if I’ve just started acting, that would be the thing that’s more surprising to me– not necessarily the character or them being mad at the character. Many of the fans that run up actually think it’s my first job, that’s the crazy thing. I’ve had just as many people come up about “Dark Blue” to Next Day Air. It’s been humbling to almost receive the same reception as if I am 25 years young and brand new at this whole thing. It’s cool to get it whether it’s Andre from “Being Mary Jane” or whether it’s soon to be Ghost from “Power.” It’s cool to have people come up to you whether they don’t like the character. If they come up, it means you did something right.