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July 19, 2017
In The Mix

Power Player

When the NFL didn't work out, Omari Hardwick found his power on TV.

Maria Neuman

Long before Omari Hardwick was one of the leads on Starz’s Power, he was priming himself for a career with the NFL — he’d even signed a contract with the San Diego Chargers.

That all changed after a knee injury.

“At 23, that injury felt like it was the end of the world for me,” says Hardwick, who moved to Los Angeles 17 years ago to pursue acting. Instead, it turned out to be a new beginning.

After years of successful sidekick roles on shows like TNT’s Dark Blue and BET’s Being Mary Jane, Hardwick is now front and center on Power, which launches its fourth season June 25. He portrays New York City club owner James St. Patrick, aka Ghost, who lives a double life as a drug kingpin.

“I love the complexities of this guy,” Hardwick says. “Courtney Kemp [the series’ creator–executive producer] created a great character, who’s a bit of a sociopath, but always changing. For season four, you’ll see a guy who is now trying to figure out how to revamp himself.”

Power is the network’s most-watched series, drawing some 8 million multi-platform viewers per episode, so it’s no surprise that a fifth season is also in the works.

“I always thought it was great, but I never thought we’d break history for the network,” Hardwick says of the show, which counts hip-hop mogul Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson III among its executive producers. Jackson also wrote the series’ theme song, “Big Rich Town.”

Besides his acting career, Hardwick — married and a father of two — is also an avid poet and writer; he released a spoken-word CD back in 2002. And last year he started work on his first musical opus. “I call it gumbo music because it’s a hodgepodge of poetry, soul, rap and country,” he says. “I guess playing sports all those years gave me a level of discipline and work ethic, plus I don’t require a lot of sleep.”

Considering all he’s got going, that’s a powerful asset.

This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 6, 2017

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