Exclusive: Omari Hardwick Raw (Career Evolution, Transition, Testimony Of Faith In Hollywood, ‘Kick-Ass 2,’ More)

Exclusive: Omari Hardwick Raw (Career Evolution, Transition, Testimony Of Faith In Hollywood, 'Kick-Ass 2,' More)

I really doubt that an introduction to the intelligent, spiritual, smoking hot Omari Hardwick is necessary for S&A readers; so I'll skip the formalities and, instead, let the man speak for himself.

And speak, he most certainly did when we caught up with him recently, as he spoke to S&A about the evolution of his career since he first entered the business, his southern upbringing, his faith as he navigates Hollywood, projects he's involved in, being snubbed from the sequel to Kick Ass 2, and much, much more.

It's a lengthy read, but very worthwhile. And we thank Omari very much for his time, and especially his honesty.


Shadow and Act: Did you need a college education to make it in Hollywood?

Omari Hardwick: When I hear that question, I think of actors like Leo DiCaprio. For years, I asked myself that question. I had this acting coach tell me that my college years are part of MY story. I remember she asked me what I would do without my years playing football. She was like football is part of my story. To answer your question, yes, I needed a college degree to be successful in Hollywood.

Shadow and Act:  How would you describe yourself?

OH: I’ve been described as a smart actor because I’ve attended college. Or I’ve been called an artsy jock. And I am thinking, so are actors supposed to be dumb? I read the comments online too. I played sports, and I am an actor. I am a poet. Actors are intelligent. Yet, many of them do not communicate well. That’s what makes it so hard to have a relationship with one.

Shadow and Act: Actors tends to get really emotional in love. They really act out their feelings.

OH: Exactly, but what happens when you need other communication? What about beyond the emotions? [Taps his head]

Shadow and Act:  In Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls,” you played Carl. He was the closeted husband to Janet Jackson’s character. How did you develop that role?

OH: Well, I can’t relate to being gay. It was a challenging role.

Shadow and Act: How was it a challenge?

OH: It was a challenging role for me because I am a black guy. And white guys like Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal can play those types of roles and their audiences will say that the roles are artistic.  

Shadow and Act: So you feel that the role was challenging because the black community does not support roles like Carl?

OH: The black culture perceives roles like that one in a negative light.

Shadow and Act: How did you prepare for that role?

OH: I focused on being a deviant person. I focused on doing something wrong. I was lying to my wife. I was lying to these men. I prepared for the role by closing my eyes and thinking of times when I had lied.

Shadow and Act:  You did not focus on the sexual orientation of Carl to get into character?

OH: No, because it’s like how could I do that really well? I focused on being deviant.

Shadow and Act:  Did you tap into your own sexuality to build the role?

OH: You want me to explain how I used my heterosexuality to build this role?

Shadow and Act: Yes, I do.

OH: Okay, let me know if this is what you mean. There was this one time while we were filming in New York, where I was testing myself. l challenged myself to run through Central Park and behave like Carl. I wanted to see how I would run and live differently as my character.

Shadow and Act: And what did you find out about your character during this run?

OH: I did not get through the run without checking out women. It’s a natural instinct. So, that’s why I solely focused on being deviant. But you know what? Some of the greatest actors have played gay men. Anthony has played a gay man. Jeffrey has played gay. When it’s all said and done, I am secure enough with my manhood to say to the world, “I am a male actor, and its okay for me to play a gay man.”

Shadow & Act: Paint a picture of your childhood upbringing for us.

OH: I grew up in Decatur, Georgia. We had three boys in the household; actually it felt like four of us. My Pops sort of raised my uncle too. So, it was four boys, and later a younger sister. I grew up in a two parent household. We all played sports, all sports, which cost a lot of money. My Pops was an attorney; he went to College of the Holy Cross with Clarence Thomas. My mom worked a bit, then gradually came home and took care of us full time. My parents grew up streets a part in Savannah, GA. I considered our household to be lower middle class, or middle class. All of my grandparents are alive. Both patriarchs were college graduates. I am the middle boy. I still feel like a middle boy. One brother is out here in LA with me, and one is in ATL.

Shadow & Act: When I hear about your childhood, I can’t help but think of my own childhood partially growing up in Georgia. I attended a year at McNair middle, and Tri-Cities for a year.

OH: I think Andre Benjamin went to Tri-Cities.

Shadow and Act: No, he went to Banneker High School. Antwan Patton, Kandi Burrus, and Sahr Ngaujah attended Tri-Cities. Kandi and Sahr were actually in my drama classes.

OH: Sahr Najajah, you talking about the brother from Fela?

Shadow and Act: Yes, that’s the guy.

OH: That brother can really act. He’s a phenomenal actor. I went to see Fela like four times, met with him and everything. He never mentioned that he was from home.

Shadow & Act: When did you start to write poetry?

OH: As a teenager.

Shadow and Act: You played football for the University of Georgia. What I found so odd is that in most of your interviews that I’ve read, the journalists did not understand how big of deal the school is in Georgia. Can you tell us about playing football at UGA?

OH: I don’t make a big deal out of playing football at UGA to people who have interviewed me. But you know what, let me take a step back in this interview and reflect on where we are at this moment. Understanding that you and I both know how huge UGA is and we are in LA now.  Its two different worlds, you’d have to have lived in GA to understand. Even USC or UCLA does not even have the same affect on its residents like southern football. I love the fact that I can appreciate where I come from, and know that world actually exists. Unlike many Californians or New Yorkers, college football is a religion down south. I played defensive back at UGA. I started out at Furman University in South Carolina. I went there for a year, and then I transferred to UGA.

Shadow and Act: Why did you transfer?

OH: When I got to Furman, it was just too small. I wanted a larger school, with a vast environment like UGA. But my dream school was the University of Michigan. Ever since I was a boy, I wanted to go there. But I couldn’t see having my parents come all that way to support me in Michigan. I wanted to be around bigger football. My senior year in high school, I had offers at Ole Miss, University of Wisconsin, Duke University, Furman, and University of Georgia. While in college I minored in theater.

Shadow and Act: While at UGA you joined Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. And through my research, I found out that we actually have a friend in common, Rasheed Cromwell, Owner or the Harbor Institute.  

OH: So, you went to North Carolina A&T? That’s cool.  I met Rasheed in my boy Cory’s wedding. Cory is an Alpha from A&T.

Shadow and Act: Yes, I went to North Carolina A&T. Through that organization you do workshops for young black Greeks entitled, “Brotherhood to Hollywood.”  Tell us how this all came about.  

OH: Well, Cory, Chuck Deezy (from How High), and I are all Alpha’s. We came together and created this program for college students as a how to workshop on transitioning from college to Hollywood. The workshops are split up into three parts: I cover the craft needed to make it in Hollywood. Chuck covers the perseverance needed, and Cory covers networking.

Shadow and Act: So, how many schools have you toured?

OH: We have toured five schools, and most recently, they did their first one without me. We started the workshops when I was having a dry acting season, and then when things took off recently, they kind of went ahead without me.

Shadow and Act: So you no longer do the workshops?

OH: I did not do the most recent workshop. We actually had a kind of disagreement about the matter. I had a talk with Corey about it, and I had to check Rasheed about it a couple of times. I have not spoken to Rasheed since the incident. But I talk to Corey all the time. I am like Godfather to his son.  

Shadow and Act: Can you let our readers know where they can find out about the workshop?

OH: The workshop is called “ Brotherhood to Hollywood.” People can find out more by going to www.sayceleb.com or www.theharborinstitute.com 

Shadow and Act: Can you tell us about the events that led you from UGA to the San Diego Chargers?

OH: I tore my knee my senior year in college. My speed went down a little bit. However, despite all of this, I worked out with the juniors and seniors at UGA to get into the league. I also worked out with Furman as well. So, my options were pretty much the Falcons, Pittsburgh, they tend to take Georgia players, and San Diego. I ended up at San Diego on their developmental squad. The developmental squad was their non travel squad. My coach in San Diego was Bobby Ross. Who used to coach at Georgia Tech. In high school, I was also recruited by Bobby Ross. Pretty much, although I had slow speed, and an injury, I was given a shot at San Diego, because of my relationship with Bobby Ross. I had known him since I was 15 years old.

Shadow and Act: So, you were on the teams’ developmental squad. What was the outcome of that?

OH: I was cut from the Chargers.

Shadow and Act:  Did getting cut from the team make you move forward with acting on a professional level?

OH: I began to ask myself the question, “What does God want me to do with my life?” And you know what Masha? I kept on hearing the voice of God saying if you are going to be the minister that your mom mentioned… then you have to act. My pulpit is acting.

Shadow and Act: Your mother thought that you’d be a minister?

OH: Yes, she did.

Shadow and Act: At this point in your life, you find yourself in San Diego, but not playing professional football. Why didn’t you move to LA and begin your career?

OH: I moved back home to Atlanta. I did travel back and forth to LA a bit with my college girlfriend at the time. But from Atlanta, I made the move to New York. I’m all about not cutting corners. I come from stage; my experience had been on stage. So, thus, I went to New York. Once there, I studied at the Beacon Theater during the day and performed during the night at various hole in the wall theaters. I struggled so much.

Shadow & Act: I know that you mentioned that you’ve always written poetry, but during this time in your life — did your writing increase tremendously?

OH: My poetry got so heavy during that time. I was always writing stories.

Shadow and Act: Did your poetry lead you to acting?

OH: Poetry has in a way been my bridge to my acting career. I had so many questions about my life, so I took to poetry to express my questions. I had questions about politics, family relationships, and more. There was this time, after I had left New York, and had come to LA, when I rode my motorcycle near CBS studios. There was this spot where homeless women would sleep, and I stopped my bike in front of the area, and I just wondered. I remember there being this huge Oscar De la Hoya billboard above these women, and at the time he was the champ, a hero. Then I looked at this one woman sleeping, and wondered what kind of hero was she? She had to of once been a hero at something. That day, I wrote my poem directly to this woman. She was sleeping underneath the billboard.

Shadow and Act: Did times like that make you the grounded?

OH: Yes, it did.

Shadow and Act: How are you managing your family and your Hollywood career?

OH: It’s difficult. I just came back from Georgia, doing the Peachtree Village International Film festival as their ambassador, and my Moms and Pops were there with me.  I asked them to walk the red carpet with me, and initially my Pops said no. But, it’s a weird thing, because I invite them into my life, and then I am quick to be told that I have changed. It’s a balancing act, especially with my mother. I have a hard time communicating to her that I am learning how to manage this celebrity thing. I mean I use my acting to put food on the table. Many nights though, to clear my head about everything, I get on my bike, and ride around California.

Shadow and Act: You ride to clear your head and to think about life?

OH: To think, and sometimes I don’t want to think. I love the peace that I get from riding. It allows me to get my life together in my head, and it allows me to digest before I have those talks with my family. I don’t want to force my lifestyle down their throats. I cannot juggle this lifestyle alone. My mother said that they need to have a course entitled Hollywood mothers 101. I told her though, before you even get to a course like that, you need to make a choice to fully support your child. I actually need help from my family.

Shadow and Act: In New York, who were your acting teachers?

OH:  Kenny Leon from the Alliance Theater referred me to a teacher at the Beacon Theater. I forget the teachers’ name. I met Kenny when he came to speak at UGA.

When I moved to LA, I started at the Playhouse West. I took classes with Jeff Goldbloom. I remember James Franco was around during that time. Scott Caan, James Caan’s son attended classes at Playhouse West too. So, from Playhouse West, where I studied the Meisner technique, I then went to Gloria Gifford for training at the Beverly Hills playhouse. I ended my ongoing training with Ben Guillory. He played Grady in The Color Purple.

Shadow and Act: That name sounds familiar.

OH: He was the dude that Shug Avery married. Remember her saying some stuff like, “ I’s married now.” Remember that? [Laughter]

Shadow and Act: Yes, I remember! Did you train with anyone in New York that you have co starred with on a project?

OH: No not really. I mean, Anthony Mackie was living in New York at the time. And we both starred in my first major project, “Sucka Free City.” But, mostly, the actors I met on my way into the industry have been out here in LA. I knew Jeffrey Wright was in New York, and I later worked with Carmen Ejogo on Sparkle.  But I did not start my career with them. I remember meeting Jeffrey at this event in DC honoring Cicely Tyson.

Shadow and Act: Let’s talk more about Sucka Free City. Spike Lee directed that project right?  

OH: Yes, Spike directed it. It was a project shot for Showtime. The project ended up being screened as a TV movie on Showtime. It was supposed to be a television series. I felt like it was basically a project that was Showtime’s answer to HBO’s The Wire. But it went beyond specific races. In this project you had all different types of racial gangs in San Francisco. It was about gang life. You had the Asian gang, the black gang, and then this white kid, played by Ben Crowley who moves into to all of that and navigates the gang life. I played Dante.

Shadow and Act: You have a career gap between the years of 2003 and 2006. What were you doing in those years?

OH: I was acting. I took to writing as my medicine to help me stay afloat in this career journey. I wrote about me breaking hearts, and my heart being broken. I wrote about my views whether they were liberal or conservative. I wrote about everything. I wrote about my life. When I did not have paper coming in as green backs, I’d use random pieces of paper for stories. It was like, I got no money, but I have paper to write. So I wrote. My writing was therapy during that time.

Shadow and Act: How did you get back on track with your career after that drought?

OH:  I did not have an agent or a manager from like 2004 to 2006. I was getting advice from Denzel and Pauletta during that time in my career. They are like my uncle and aunt. They were helping me on what I should do, and not do, and things like that. I then got with Michael Green my very first real LA agent, and from that moment I got a lot of jobs back to back. I was able to book like three jobs within a few weeks of having him as my agent. With that one agent, I went all the way to the film Kick Ass. I spent like five or six years with them.

Shadow and Act: How did you meet the director of Sparkle, Salim Akil?

OH: I first met him when I was playing this role of a special needs kid at Stella Adler off of Sunset. Robi Reed was at that play. I met him through his sister in law that was at the same theater company. Salim and I have known each other for eleven years.

Shadow and Act: Why has it taken you so long to work with Salim?

OH: Salim actually brought me into an audition for Showtime’s Soul food. But as life would have it, I came to that audition late. I was very late because I was going through a very serious break up and what not. And I remember him telling me that I made Terrance Howard look like a new actor in that audition. He said that I was good, but I’ll always be a character actor and not a leading man if I could not get out of my own way. Instead of backing away from someone that gave constructive criticism like that, I gravitated to him. Since then, Salim and I have been very good friends. When he was scouting locations for Sparkle, in Detroit, he called me up and asked me to audition for either the roles of Stix or Levi.

Shadow and Act: During the Sparkle roundtable that I did with Salim, he mentioned that Mike Epps was his first talent hire. Where were you in that hiring mix?

OH: If Mike was first, I was probably last. I mean we are so close, so in his mind I was probably first. But studios go through various processes in bringing on talent. They care less about talent, and more about bankability. So, with me, they had to work through all of that. I believe that Carmen was brought in right before me. She had submitted a taped audition, and won out of hundreds of submissions.

Shadow & Act: You’ve weaved a career well between independent films and studio films. Is that part of your career strategy?

OH: I love doing both. What was interesting about Sparkle is that Mara wrote it perfectly. She wrote it like an indie film. And it looked like an independent film; it had great grit to it. But it was a studio film. And I believe that one of the platforms is that what you get from working on studio films, and not always what you get from working on independent films.

Shadow & Act: I first saw you in Ava Duvernay’s independent film I Will Follow in Atlanta. Then I saw Middle of Nowhere at Sundance. Your performance literally jumped off screen! You’re a great actor.

OH: Thank you. Middle of Nowhere comes out in theaters on October 17th.  

Shadow and Act: Your career also benefited greatly from For Colored Girls. Tyler Perry has a really loyal base of supporters.

OH: I did not necessarily have an interest in working on any of his projects, but it was that film, that role, that I wanted.

Shadow and Act: Have you encountered any major career disappointments recently?

OH: Well, I can tell you that I just found out that I will not be brought back on for Kick Ass 2. I am really disappointed with this news. I have zero explanation as to why I was not brought back for the sequel. I don’t do drugs and I am a nice person. They gave me no explanation as to why I did not get the role. The reason why people don’t get called back to sequels is because they did badly in the original. But with this project, I had good feedback, people liked the role. Donald Faison is in the sequel, and he thought I was on board. I gave four years of my life traveling back and forth from London for that role. And at the time of its filming, I had a son that was passing away. I’d go to London and not stay overnight, and fly nine hours to LA to handle that commitment. I have sung the films praises in interviews without confirming if I was in it or not. I was also filming Dark Blue at the time. Both were unaware that I was doing both projects at the same time. It’s impossible for me not to be upset about not being cast in that project.

Shadow and Act: Well, if you look at great careers, the so called setbacks are actually set ups. What projects do you have coming up?

OH: Thank you Masha. I have the BET original scripted show Being Mary Jane with Gabrielle Union. I’m not on the show the whole season though. Then I have A Pure Life, with Vera Famiga and Elle Fanning. 

Shadow and Act: In closing this interview, how do you feel that your southern upbringing has helped you navigate through Hollywood?

OH: Now that I am approaching a career, were I am fully in the Hollywood world. I sing the praises of Georgia more than ever. The new Atlanta is more like Hollywood, and when we were in Atlanta as kids, I was blessed to see blacks with an identity outside of Hollywood. So in a sense, my upbringing has allowed me to create a life where now that I live in Hollywood, I know that another world exists outside of where I now exist.

My priorities are leaning more towards family, and I credit my southern upbringing to that. I was raised in the church as well, and God plays a big role in my upbringing and my life. I remember as a boy, seeing men open doors for women and I just always remember all the memories. I spent many summers in New York as well, but it’s Georgia that I remember all too well.

Once again, we thank Omari for his time and forthrightness. It was greatly appreciated. 

You can see him in Sparkle, which is currently in theaters; up next, catch him in Ava DuVernay's lauded sophomore feature, Middle Of Nowhere, in October.

This Article is related to: Interviews and tagged



Wait…that whole article and everyone is stuck on his comments about homosexuality? Let's stop acting like the black race overall does not give off the impression that we believe homosexuality is wrong/deviant.


I came to this interview by way of a tweet…saying this actor was a homophobe. So not true… I understand his words to literally mean the same as the following quote by Meryl Streep:

Acting is not about being someone different. It's finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself there.

I kind of feel like the interviewer pulled this out of him… If I'm right, it's good to know actors like this exist. Good interview…not sure how it became a big deal. I've never seen any of his films. Im Not sure if I will, but glad I found this site. Good film stuff…



"Anon" (yeah, an anonymous fool who's afraid to show their face) said: " I may be on my own here as I probably am about the whole debacle". YES! That's the most poignant point about your whole comment, because you've shown signs of riding the little yellow bus. Seriously, all of your "opinions" spoke to someone who's very young, uniformed and a slow thinker. Listen, if someone confesses that they are a christian or "spiritual", that DOES NOT mean they have not made mistakes, nor does it mean they will not make mistakes in the future. Yes, "Christianity" is serious to many, so you should talk about something you know… and practice what YOU preach. RE: "interview" more like a conversation… And, SO WHAT?! Yeah, again you've reserved your seat on the special kids bus. Seriously, out of this whole interview ( The Kick-ass issue being but a small part ) you discerned that Omari has a chip on his shoulder??? REALLY?? SERIOUSLY??!! No, truth is, YOU have issues that you need to get off your chest (That's probably why you're here making these unfounded accusations) so I understand . Look, I knew I was reading a foolish individual when you gave your ridiculous… totally absurd assessments of what "whites" and white Europeans do differently than blacks. "They" have different communication "skills"…? "they" see things as poor and harsh etiquette…? OH REALLY!!?? Could you please give something (a shred of proof) to support your ridiculous and woefully ambiguous claim? Lastly, your predisposition and lack of understanding could not have been more evident than your response to "deviant" and "throwing under the bus". Listen, pay close attention… Omari DID NOT call gays deviants. Okay, ONE MORE TIME… the actions of the character "Carl" (lying, cheating, being deceptive, deceitful and dishonest) are not actions or behaviors that one would champion nor consider socially acceptable norms, thus… Carl's actions spoke to DEVIANCE! NOT his sexual orientation. Here's another way to look at this issue –> "you would think some of the people on here who are being overly defensive about playing a gay character would applaud him (Omari) for approaching the role like that as opposed to him saying that he tried to act/play gay because they'd be the same people saying " how in the hell does a gay person act?!?" ~ by Mantan. So Ms Anonymous, in short, miss us with your prejudice and don't stray too far away from that little yellow bus. You might get hauled in for being white and stupid.


I thought his last film was For Colored Girls… sorry I did! He was opposite Janet Jackson how could I miss that role! I have not seen any of his other films but Kickass. I liked Kickass, but he was a supporting character. I'm not sure why he made a big deal out of not getting that role — so dramatic. He should focus on films where he is a lead. I need to find something else w/ him in it. He's interesting. He seems very conservative, in a liberal industry. I like how S&A took the time to interview him b/c most black actors put in a lot of time w/ their careers, but never end up featured in mainstream publications. This is a good interview. I felt like I was reading a Vanity Fair interview – High and low points.


i get what he was trying to say by saying there's no way to play a gay man and so he went about trying to portray the character in other ways such as him being deviant in lying/being deceitful to people. you would think some of the people on here trying to call him homophobic or trying to be overly defensive about playing gay character would applaud him for approaching the role like that as opposed to him saying that he tried to act/play gay because they'd be the same people say"well how does a gay person act?!?!!?", lol. anyway, i like the interview save for a couple of the questions that i didn't find too relevant but at same time there are some people who are asking for more information regarding those segments of the interview, so even though they meant nothing to me they were relevant to someone.

he seemed to have taken it pretty hard that he didn't get the part in kick ass 2, i watched the first one and i didn't think it was all that great, so i think he'll be alright. i think he's shown more range/talent in some of his other lessor known movies anyway but i understand the need the be in big marque movies. he seems like a cool, intelligent thoughtful bro. and so i'll keep supporting him and his projects and wish him the best.


omari's a good brother, working hard and faithfully pining to figure out the madness that is this industry. i wonder how better off we'd all be if even half you naysaying muthafuckas would comment as much on the the very worthwhile posts on haile gerima or pearl cleage? yall crabs in the barrel stop talking that shit and applaud the efforts of this man! masha too! keep banging, baby.


@POE,ANTON,BOOMSLANG -What it is, is that he's having a problem projecting to an audience that he has not yet fully engaged yet, why say what he said unless and I could be wrong, out of fear he will loose his Home Boy, Ride or Die types, he was vastly uncomfortable doing that role, well he better, get used to the doing one dimensional roles that don't ask him to tap into any sides beyond what he's comfortable with. I know he wants to transcend into the realm of real strong actor. What is he really saying?


If he wants to blame his own internalized homophobia for the discomfort he had playing a gay character, he should have done it. Stop casting a huge net to blame the entire black community as homophobic. While there are bad seeds among us, NOT ALL OF US are hateful bigots when it comes to gays, especially our own sons, daughters, uncles, aunts, moms, and dads. Fed up with this blanket homophobic tag. Moreover, it is call "acting" for a reason. If an actor cannot commit himself or herself to playing "any" type of character, they why are they in the business to begin with. There are pleny of black actors who happen to be straight and will play gay without being disparaging to their "gay" brothers and sisters and that larger part of the black community who isn't homophobic!


I could live to be a thousand yrs old and I'll NEVER understand why portraying a murderous, drug dealer, a sociopathic, serial killer, etc., causes black "actors" no concern; yet, portraying gay sends them into group therapy. Really??? I think Omari successfully told the interviewer in a roundabout fashion that he is a phenomenal actor as long as a role doesn't call for him to be someone he isn't. Hey, not every "actor" subscribes to Jeffrey Wright & Meryl Streep's brand of chameleonesque artistry. Now, Omari fans, run and tell dat!


Are he and Ava Duvernay beefing or something? He talked about everybody else he dont like and parts he didnt get but not the black woman who put him in two of her movies which are his best performances cause Sparkle was cool and Kick Ass was cool but I wouldn't even know who this cat was if I didn't see him in the Sally Richardson movie. He apparently has something people like to cause this much comments on here. I wish I knew what it was.


In defense of Masha — (yeah, I'm riding with her to the end) — in reference to the dying son issue, the central point of that part of the interview was his resentment at not being called back for Kick-Ass 2 (not his son). While listing the efforts he put into the first movie, he included –> " And at the time of its filming, I had a son that was passing away. I'€d go to London and not stay overnight, and fly nine hours to LA to handle that commitment." Therefore, since the focus was not on his son, how do you believe she could have, or should have approached that subject? Personally, I don't believe that's Masha's call. If Omari wanted to expound on it, that's his call because obviously it was very personal and life changing. It would have been highly inappropriate, not to mention unprofessional, for the interviewer to broach that subject. On the TP issue… as Omari stated, THERE WAS NO ISSUE other than what some folks have tried to infer. And seriously, the poetry issue was not relevant? Really? I beg to differ! Listen, poetry is many things for many people but basically it gives special intensity to the expression of feelings and ideas of it's writer. So keeping that in mind and given the fact that Omari has been writing poetry for several years, it's not about whether or not YOU or I will read it. It's about the man and how it played an integral part of his life. His words: "When I went to New York… I struggled so much. My poetry got so heavy during that time. I was always writing stories. Poetry has in a way been my bridge to my acting career. I had so many questions about my life, so I took to poetry to express my questions. I had questions about politics, family relationships, and more. I took to writing as my medicine to help me stay afloat in this career journey. [More importantly]My writing was therapy during that time. I wrote about me breaking hearts, and my heart being broken. I wrote about my views whether they were liberal or conservative. I wrote about everything. I wrote about my life. When I did not have paper coming in as green backs, I'd use random pieces of paper for stories. It was like, I got no money, but I have paper to write. SO I WROTE!" ~ Omari Hardwick. So Mr Wise, again I beg to differ because poetry is the man — in so many ways. Without it in his life, it's doubtful there would be a Omari Hardwick as we know him today.


Masha, I would say listen to your interviewee…if something is off the record, let it stay that way. Otherwise, few actors will give you the real scoop and stick to lying to your face like they do to some publications. Even if something seems juicy (like the beef with his workshop co-founders), you have to remember that this is someone you'd like to talk to about future projects. It'd be one thing if it was related to his film, but it was just gossip. If you were in a high-profile position, you would've gotten reprimanded for it, so I'm not sure why Tambay is holding your hand while you're walking over the coals. We all have had to be critiqued in our professions, so developing a thick skin is a beneficial survival skill. No matter what you say, it was too personal and unneccessary, hence why Omari had to check you. Learn from Jasmin about technique, while incorporating your own style, and you'll be on your way.


Masha, this was a wonderful interview! I wouldn't even both responding to those who don't like it. What's the point. You can't please everyone, so don't try. There are those who like it, and those who don't. That's just the way it goes. Many folks didn't care for Oprah's personal interview style, bringing her own life into conversations, but she's done quite well with that approach. So nothing wrong with personal touches. Some will like it, some won't. You don't have to defend anything. I love it! The casual nature of it all. And I learned quite a bit about the man as well.


Whoever interviewed him spent waaaaay too much time trying to find out whether he is gay or not by digging deep into the character he played on "For Colored Girls." All those extra questions on that role were really unnecessary and hell, I felt uncomfortable for him.


Thanks for the interview. I enjoyed it.


The interview didn't mention that you can catch Omari Hardwick on the TVOne network on Verses & Flow on Mondays 11PM EST/8PM PST.


There is so much homophobia in the black community that some black male actors are fearful of taking on gay roles.

I think there should be more gay roles for black male actors because there are so many stories that need to be told from a black gay male perspective.

I just read an article that it took a long time for the LA Complex to cast the two gay roles because black male actors were fearful of taking the role. Thank goodness Benjamin Watson and Andra Fuller were up to the challenge. Watson and Fuller's gay black male characters on the LA Complex have received a lot of positive press from the media and the public. Watson and Fuller give a lot of passion and energy to their characters gay romance.


Wait a second, what does Omari being black have to do with taking on a gay role in For Colored Girls? I don't understand?

I don't see how taking a gay role can hurt a black male actor? In fact, I think taking on a gay role can actually help a black male actor. It certainly helped Anthony Mackie's career showing he had range.

Anthony Mackie also had a role in a gay film Brother to Brother and that movie basically launched his career. Anthony got a lot of critical acclaim for playing a gay man.
And on the LA Complex show currently on television there are two black actors whose characters are gay. And these gay characters on the LA Complex are the most popular.


Some of the comments below taking digs at me and the interview are silly… In this imterview theres a story of an actor…an imperfect person. I asked the actor the above questions so we could learn more about him… if you have a question for me…ask me…dont diss me w/o knowing me.


I like Omari more now that I know another side of his personality, but wished the banter about what connections the interviewer had in common with him were edited out. Bringing up her own childhood was kinda…weird. It was like reading a transcript from a first date. Other than that, it was an interesting read.


I liked him before, but I love him now. I wish him luck. I wish Masha had of asked him more questions about the black greek program. Is there a link or footage we can see? Its great to see him so honest…he did not hold back!

ojie king

And yes, we know you're straight. Playing a gay character is just that, playing a gay character. No one is going to think you are gay if you aren't. Will Smith has played gay so……… Well i get his point, if he couldn't relate, he couldn't relate. Also, i think that black actors especially should stop hating inTyler Perry. Fine, his films are not critically lauded, but please, he has made a name for himself and he gives black actors work and his films actually make money. I find it silly that when these actors become somewhat successful, they bite the hand that fed them, which I dont think is fair.

Critical Acclaim

Why would he repeat that about Terence Howard and Salim? A little full of himself it seems. That was not cool. In lifting himself up he took down somebody else.

ojie king

Well, show business is hard! But, i wish him all the luck. I believe he wasn't picked for the sequel because blatantly he is an unknown. If he was a big star, he would have been picked.


Appreciated the mention of "Sucka Free City". The "movie" that came from the failed-to-get-off-the ground series was terrific; some of Spike's best work in the past ten or fiftten years. Anthony Mackie was great in his role. A bit uncomfortable with remarks regarding the gay discussion. Thought Hardwick may have thrown the black community as a whole under the bus a bit. And I thought Hardwick was going a bit too far to make sure it was clear to all involved that he was not gay. Hey, I believe he isn't. So no need to go overboard to prove one's manhood. And though I understand what he was trying to convey I think using the word "deviant" so often when describing how he got into the mindset of playing a homosexual character is a little of a misstep. Not only can it be interpreted in the wrong way, it could become a bit of a hindrance in Harwick's goal to climb the ladder in Hollywood which happens to be a very gay-friendly town. Again I realize that he is probably refering to his character in that particular film as being a liar and a cheater, but other folks may see it in a different light. As we know just by this political season your words can be twisted and turned against you.


Cant wait to see him in Middle of Nowhere. He was great in Sparkle. I like his relationship with Salim… I want to see the BET project.


most of the interview is incoherent and poorly structured.I detest interviews that end up sounding like a meaningless barbershop chatter. This is what I got from this. We've got to do better than this.For real.


Well, you know how there's a rumor about EVERY brotha in Hollywood so I think "Wise O" was just letting the author know what's up just in case she was going there lol. No harm, no foul. I remember seeing dude at the Actor's Lounge in LA back in the day & his stage skills seemed underwhelming (although he was already working steady in films). But it's apparent he's worked hard to get good at what he does (his performance in "Everyday Black Man" is particularly solid). Good to see a Poetry Lounge alum do it big! Only please, please, please do it Adam Sandler style (not the Jim Carrey way) and look out the homies lol…would love to see IN-Q get some run too…continued success brother…

bohemian princess

"OH: No, because it’s like how could I do that really well? I focused on being deviant."

Is he being serious here? I find this portion of his interview to be offensive. As if it requires some special effort to play someone that is gay. Being an actor is about tapping into the complexities of ourselves and living in the moment and reflecting the human condition with honesty and truth. Would someone tell this joker that he doesn't have to be gay to play gay. He doth protest too much. It's a shame Oprah'a show is no longer on the air. Whose couch is he going to jump on now?


I am perplexed… no I am burdened… no, I am intellectual "challenged"/deficient. That's it, I can't find the right superlatives to express my feeling on this interview. So, in my best "say it like it is" way, this interview was simply — THE SH*T. Question by Question from start to finish, this interview gave us a deep look into the man, the actor, his family, his failures, his heartaches, loves and journey, now and "then". From the opening question, one could surmise that Omari is a thinker. When asked if he needed "college" to make it in Hollywood, his short response said so much. He didn't speak about a degree. He basically said the "experiences" of those years, helped prepare him for the battles ahead. On the subject of love and intelligence, he gave these thought provoking words–> "Actors are intelligent. Yet, many of them do not communicate well. That’s what makes it so hard to have a relationship with one".
Shadow and Act: Actors tends to get really emotional in love. They really act out their feelings.
OH: "but what happens when you need other communication? What about beyond the emotions?". Damn, WHAT ABOUT BEYOND THE EMOTION?! WOW. That man went some where that few venture. That reminds me, in respect to his acting, I always thought he used subtlety and "nuance" in the finest way. So, when he said he went to Playhouse West, where he studied the Meisner technique, I now know why. Again, this post had loads of insight into the making of the man. For instance, check out these words on his family and how they played a roll in developing his character. "My priorities are leaning more towards family"… "I credit my southern upbringing to that"… "I was raised in the church as well, and God plays a big role in my upbringing and my life".. "I actually need help from my family". Talk about being grounded, and not forgetting where he came from. RE: His writing poetry. Again he let us into his life by sharing how he coped during his trying times. Some folks drink, or smoke, or run to the doctor for a pill to ease their ills, but he put his pain on paper. That's big because many of us do not know how to discharge our pain. This man Omari is a thinker. Now, on the subject of playing a homosexual, when he said "Well, I can’t relate to being gay" I knew exactly where he was going. Listen, I believe acting is about expressing emotions. Consequently, since he said he can't relate to "being gay", he had to find something he shares with all humans and then run with those thoughts/actions, not the "sexual orientation" of the character . I believe anyone who read anything different, or negative in his comment, is looking in the wrong place. In short, I'll have to check my memory banks, but I believe this was the most thought provoking, unpretentious, courageous (the interviewer and subject), insightful, in-depth, rounded interview to hit S&A. Some folks said it was long. I'd call it just right. GOOD JOB Masha!


"I did not necessarily have an interest in working on any of his projects, but it was that film, that role, that I wanted." —- Ha! He pulled an Idris on that one!

the black police

WOW! I didnt even know he had a son. What an insightful interview. Its so sad that they dropped him from Kick Ass 2. Such a shame. On a sour note: he doth protest too much on the gay role thing. He should have focused on the emotions of the character.

Cara W.

This was a great interview. A very long interviews though. It should have been split up into two parts. I would of liked to know more about his work with Ava. He was in two of her films. I wish him much luck. I didn't know he was an Alpha either.

julius hollingsworth

Omari is a fine actor.I just like to known who he was studying with @The Beacon theater.Good Luck,keep doing good work.


Acting as a pulpit, interesting. This quote was also interesting, "But, it’s a weird thing, because I invite them into my life, and then I am quick to be told that I have changed. It’s a balancing act, especially with my mother. I have a hard time communicating to her that I am learning how to manage this celebrity thing." I think his mother may have literally wanted him to be a minister, not figuratively. He is an adult, though. He must follow the dreams that make him happy.


Long read, indeed. There's too much irrelevant info here. We didn't need to know that he had a falling out with Rasheed. (He probably didn't even think that part was on-the-record.) And the not-so-subtle dig at TP? I hope Omari doesn't need that brother's help in the future, because that door has officially closed.


Dude sounds really full of himself and overly defensive/insecure about having played a gay role


Great to hear Omari in his own words. My only issues with this write-up are when Hardwick revealed he had a son who had passed away, the interviewer totally skipped over it! Have him expound! Just as when he offered that he was late for an audition due to a serious breakup, the interviewer ALSO let it slide. DELVE in! Get the details he was offering. Other than that, great talk.

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