Omari Hardwick plays a high-level drug distributor and nightclub owner on the Starz crime drama “Power,” but his latest projects tap into different sides of his acting. In “A Boy. A Girl. A Dream,” he plays a man looking to find himself on the night of Donald Trump’s election. And in Tyler Perry’s “Nobody’s Fool,” opening Nov. 2, he’ll show off his comedic chops alongside Tiffany Haddish and Whoopi Goldberg.
Do you relate to your character in “A Boy. A Girl. A Dream”?
Yeah, obviously I had a dream, and being a former athlete, that always helped. But absolutely I can relate [to Cass] in terms of being an African-American having to be subjected — that could sound dramatic — but being subjected to a country that hasn’t always looked out for brown people. And having to deal with President Donald Trump. I haven’t necessarily been able to get down with how [Trump] lives his life, so in that way, Cass is very much like me.
The film was shot in long continuous takes; was that nerve-racking?
It’s a lot of ad-libbing. Probably 30 pages of ad-libbing and about 60 pages of us being on script. Definitely it was difficult, but it’s fun for me. I would say acting is just listening, so it was listening on a steroid level.
What was it like working with Whoopi Goldberg?
She’s been a mentor. She’s been in my camp for a long time — I would say since “For Colored Girls” [a 2010 film in which the two co-starred]. I tend to gravitate toward strong female figures; I always have.
You’re also involved with charities?
We created a network [Omari Hardwick Bluapple Poetry Network] that started with 13 kids. We use poetry and metaphor to teach them poetry — me being a poet. So they just clean out the closet of whatever anger and frustration they feel coming from the inner cities. We’re trying ultimately to go to other cities: Detroit, South and West sides of Chicago — different places that I think the world owes a little more to young brown people — and use poetry to try to figure out how to manage their anger.
What You Didn’t Know About Omari Hardwick
Age: 44 Birthplace: Savannah, Ga. First Role: Peter Pan Sports Star: Lettered in football at the University of Georgia with Hines Ward and Champ Bailey Favorite foods: Salmon and apples (but not necessarily at the same time)