Omari Hardwick (Exclusive interview)
Omari Hardwick (Exclusive interview)
Interviewed and written by Hector De La Rosa
If it is one thing an actor or actress must have in their portfolio, it must be the multidimensional diversity displayed in characters/roles of films. There is no question that actor Omari Hardwick (Dark Blue, I Will Follow, Miracle At St. Ana, For Colored Girls) has the goods to produce quality works. Even the beautiful late and great Whitney Houston said it before her untimely passing. Hardwick is more than an actor as he added poet to his impressive resume and now Founder/CEO of his own production company. Hardwick gives the masses insight of the gentleman he is and what makes him a successful African American entertainer in the world of entertainment.
Hector De La Rosa: What does success mean for Omari Hardwick?
Omari Hardwick: Success is a word where its definition changes overtime throughout life. When I was younger, the word meant my family being safe and happy. It also means my family being supportive of me being an actor, poet, and athlete. Success is the talent GOD has given me and to use it to accomplish the impossible.
My success is redefined after experiences of tragedy and death. As I started my own family, I have to make sure they are blessed and content. Success means having good friends and family in my circle. It allows me to continue to utilize what GOD has blessed me with just as being successful leads to just having enough money to travel and not having too much of it to where it leads to problems and change the person that I am. Above all, success means being able to find peace in my life where life can be simplistic for me than dramatic.
HD: Omari Hardwick demonstrates diversity in his roles in film, how does he go by in selecting these character or roles?
OH: Diversity is important when acting. I think acting is the wrong term used for actors. If one were to act then that means he/she are phony and not believable [laughs]. I think the appropriate word to use in this instance would be a multifaceted being. My upbringings allow for me to be diverse. I am someone who has multiplicity and depth in range.
There is the ability for me to play a soldier and go by the book as much as possible. The same goes for playing the roles of a cop in the Kick Ass movie and in Dark Blue. I am able to research each character I play and place myself in their shoes. I would not play the same role again unless I am able to tweak the roles a bit to differentiate that role from the rest. However, I would most likely do different roles. I am lucky to have that range displayed on screen than to be known as an actor who cheats himself and the world as a sellout selling bullsh-- to the masses just to obtain a quick dollar. When the cameras begin to roll, I notice actors tend to abandon the element of authenticity. I want to be the actor who brings authenticity to the light of cinema and the type to keep audiences guessing my next role in film.
HD: Which character is more personal to Mr. Hardwick?
OH: Wow! This is a very good question because no one has ever asked me this before. [Pauses] All the roles that I played are personal to me because they all are pieces of me. If the question were to be rephrased to ‘what role matched me specifically going through that very thing in my real life,’ would be the character in Next Day Air. I recall it being a tough time for me when I got the role for the film. My uncle/brother was shot. He had been around people that had touched the life of the character in Next Day Air. It was authentic because it was very fresh and the character Shavoo was created and written based on a person out in Philadelphia. My combining of Shawn (Jay-Z) Carter’s old life and of my uncle’s life made the role of Shavoo very believable.
In the television realm, I would say Dark Blue because at that time I was juggling different things in my personal life just as the character in the television series.
HD: What was the best advice the late and great Whitney Houston gave Mr. Hardwick regarding the entertainment industry while on the set of the film Sparkle?
OH: The best advice she gave me was I had the goods. Therefore, she required me not to cheat audiences of my abilities and for me to go full throttle. She explained this is the route for me to go in the next ten to fifteen years of making it and carving my own niche. She also stated for me not to let go of my foot off the gas pedal and to be prepared for what is to come when I reap from the goods I produce. This was the very sound and pivotal advice Whitney Houston gave me.
HD: Between acting in films and being a poet, what does Omari Hardwick enjoy the most?
OH: I think I can really do the movies just as while I am not writing and acting.
HD: Which one is Mr. Hardwick mostly creative with?
OH: I am more creative as a poet and writer. This is one of those favorite hobbies I get down on my knees and thank GOD for the gift of poetry. In fact, I thank GOD for the gift of acting. Specifically, I give GOD the glory after putting a period at the end of a poem.
HD: Out of the 4,000 and counting poems Omari Hardwick has written, which poem does he consider his favorite?
OH: [Laughs] There is no way I can answer that. I recently found in the garage a folder full of poems that I had written. I am just piecing these poems I have yet to complete. It is like a jigsaw puzzle. With this said, I really cannot say which is my favorite.
HD: How did the song with Omari Hardwick as the poet and Eric Roberson come about?
OH: Shout out to E. Roberson. We met at the after party of the NAACP Image Awards three years ago. I am a huge fan of Roberson. I was fond of his work as he was equally fond of mine. I mentioned to him I would like to work with Erro and we linked at his studio and made the record happen.
HD: What is Omari Hardwick’s fondest moment as an actor or poet?
OH: I enjoyed my first film which was Spike Lee’s Sucker Free City that featured Anthony Mackie and I. I loved it because it was my very first film I done with an incredible cast. It was an amazing experience. Every film is a fond memory for me because I am blessed to obtain an opportunity to act and direct with great actors and directors. I would say Sparkle really made me stand out. Valuable lessons were given to me by the writer and director of the film. We became very close after I got chewed out for coming late to an audition. Eleven years later I am hired to cast in Sparkle. Detroit has become a beloved place for me just as the city of Chicago. I tend to like the Midwest like the South where I grew up. I love the complexion and dilapidated nature of Detroit and the potential of it to be what it once was as industrial and prosperous. I really got the chance to experience Detroit outside of filming at location.
I loved the fact that I worked with two of whom I consider legends: Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson. I realized that after working with Houston, my career as an actor cannot get any better than this. A very fond memory I hold on to was sharing the last moments of Whitney Houson’s life before her passing.
HD: How does Omari Hardwick balance life in a demanding entertainment industry?
OH: It is very hard. My motorcycle helps me to get away and reflect on life. Also, having a great soul mate and family really helps me to stay grounded. The ability to see that my family still loves me even though at times they do not understand why I love what I do. Reading books allows me to leave the actor Omari Hardwick and imagine myself in someone’s shoes. I recently have been reading the biography of Scott Wieland of Stone Temple Pilots. It is great for me because I can escape and be a voyeur in his life. Overall, hiking and traveling has helped me to preserve my sanity from this business.
HD: Advice to the youth or upcoming actors/actresses...
OH: My advice for them is to never give up! If they were to give up after fully executing my advice of not giving up, then they will learn and realize that it was not meant for them. I always tell young aspiring artists and actors if they can wake up in the morning without the desire to be a part of the industry then do not do this.
HD: What is the one thing Mr. Hardwick has not done yet he would like to do in the long run?
OH: I would like to play in a few biopic pieces. Also, I would like to embark on producing and acting. I recently launched my own production company. I am preparing for take-off [laughs and throws the deuces up].
Also read Omari Hardwick interview at http://www.consciousnessmagazine.com/OmariHardwick.html