EBONY Magazine: July/August 2018 – Omari Hardwick

Power star Omari Hardwick is featured in the July/August 2018 issue of EBONY Magazine.

In the issue:

Killer, drug kingpin, husband with a girlfriend on the side, and built like Black Superman—now that’s a man without a confidence problem. But that’s James “Ghost” St. Patrick, the alter ego-packed protagonist Omari Hardwick portrays on the Starz crime drama Power.

Hardwick’s real-life story is very different. He discussed his own dance with power recently between bites of his pasta, chicken and string beans lunch following his EBONY cover photo shoot in Brooklyn, New York. As a kid, Hardwick, 44, dreamed of a professional sports career after receiving a football scholarship from the University of Georgia. “I had moxie and confidence as an athlete, but I was masked with 60 other athletes on the football team,” Hardwick says. When not playing a leading role, “I was masked by 50 other people on the set.”

After a professional football career didn’t happen, Hardwick went hard into acting—paying for acting classes by working many jobs at once. He was a substitute teacher and coach at Campbell Hall, an Episcopal day school in the Studio City area of Los Angeles. He sold women’s shoes at Nordstrom, worked catering halls and did security gigs “when I still had 200 pounds of football weight on me.”

On Power, Hardwick plays a man attempting to cut ties with the drug world, where he is known as Ghost, and become legitimate businessman James St. Patrick, while trying to rekindle his relationship with his high school sweetheart (who calls him “Jamie”). Hardwick says, “The show has been good for me.”

Still, Hardwick says he’s doing what he can to make some things better. “I was always involved in giving back to the community, and I always felt I could give back in time, not necessarily money,” he explains, emphasizing that time spent with his children and with other young people is more valuable to them.

The Omari Hardwick bluapple Poetry Network is an after-school spoken-word poetry program free to students in Florida attending Broward, Dade and Palm Beach County schools. Through the Real to Reel film competition, Hardwick helps celebrate aspiring Black filmmakers who are at least 21 years old. The winner receives a private screening of their work and $10,000.

Power airs Sundays at 8/7c on Starz.

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Photography: Dennis Leupold / Stylist: Ashley Pruitt / Barber: Johnny Cakes / Grooming: Aanita Gibson

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EBONY Magazine: June 2018 – Danai Gurira

The Walking Dead star Danai Gurira is featured in the June 2018 issue of EBONY Magazine.

From the digital issue:

At 40, Danai Gurira best known for her starring roles in Black Panther–the Blockbuster Marvel film and AMC’s The Walking Dead, has embarked on one long and successful journey over the past two years. Gurira’s award-winning plays In Continuum, The Convert, and Eclipsed–have set her apart from her peers. “I think excellence is one of the best forms of building your reputation,” she says.

The Iowa-born, Zimbabew-reared multihyphenate realizes that her relevance will be in the stories she and her sister scribes tell and not the stories that are written about them. We might assume she is strong because she was brave enough to shave her head for the role as Okoye, the Wakandan general in Black Panther As for her strength, Gurira, the youngest of four, is not quite sure where that comes from.

Gurira is most fulfilled, when she can help little girls who look like her. She thinks of the young women back home in Africa who may not realize that they, too, have permission to dream. “I think of those frills when I kind of beat myself up,” she says. “I think of the little girl in Liberia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, who will never have the opportunity I’m standing in. The least I can do is do my best for her.”

The Walking Dead returns October 2018 on AMC.

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Photography: Dennis Leupold / Styling: Thomas Carter Phillips / Hair: Vernon Scott / Makeup: Tym B / Manicure: Tracy Clemens

EBONY Magazine: April/May 2018 – Gabrielle Union

Being Mary Jane star Gabrielle Union is featured in the April/May 2018 issue of EBONY Magazine.

From the digital issue:

Today Gabrielle Union is an actress who just completed a four-hour photo shoot for EBONY, in the Hollywood Hills. At 45, the actress who looks no older than she did 15 years ago, is an executive producer, author, and designer (of the Gabrielle Union Collection at New York & Company).

Being Mary Jane will conclude its four-year run with a two-hour movie scheduled to air in the Fall. The star wouldn’t reveal any plot twists but confirmed that Morris Chesnut will be in the mix.

“By the end, we had done so many stories and shooting the way we had to shoot, two episodes at a time, seven to ten pages every day,” Union says. “It makes the process not the most enjoyable because you don’t feel like you were able to kill it in the way that other hourlong dramas are able to kill it. It’s a process that became a little too painful.”

Union is in it to win it. She’s not going to stop until she can amass enough power to hire her friends and create content that everyone can enjoy. “It’s not all going to be blockbusters, but I’ll produce things that will, hopefully, resonate with a lot of different people. I’m going to take advantage of this Wakanda moment!”

Being Mary Jane returns this year with a two-hour series finale movie.

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Photography: Nino Muñoz / Styling: Thomas Christos Kikis / Makeup: Fiona Stiles / Hair: Larry Sims

Ebony Magazine: July/August 2017 – The cast of OWN’s ‘Queen Sugar’

The cast of OWN’s Queen Sugar are featured in the new issue of EBONY Magazine. Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Kofi Siriboe and Rutina Wesley are cover stars in the magazine’s July/August 2017 issue.

In the issue:

Arguably, Hollywood is becoming more diverse, but we still have a long way to go. When it comes to depicting African-American stories authentically, there’s still a bit of a gap between perception and reality.

Enter Queen Sugar. 

The OWN-housed television series not only contributes to bridging that gap but offers a refreshingly authentic look at Black life in the South—and beyond.

Last fall, when prolific filmmaker and series executive producer Ava DuVernay brought Natalie Baszile’s iconic 2014 novel of the same name to life, she presented viewers with a work of art filled with themes of love, strife, family, and legacy.

Over the course of its first season, the world was introduced to the Bordelon siblings. We met them along with their pain, their struggle and their desire to be meaningful contributors to the world. Most importantly, we were presented with characters that placed family above everything.

In the midst of the entertainment, we also received a much-needed glimpse of Black America.

“I pull from my experiences as a Black man in America and all my brothers,” Kofi Siriboe, who plays Ralph Angel on the series told EBONY. “I see Ralph Angel in everybody.”

What Siriboe said was critical. He sees Ralph Angel in everybody. That identity …that intangible ability to see characters who possess the embodiment of what and who we are is what’s been missing in Hollywood all of this time.

For this month’s cover, EBONY traveled to New Orleans to speak with some of the cast and crew of the iconic series.

“That’s the thing I love about Nova; there hasn’t been a character quite like her,” Rutina Wesley, who plays Nova, the eldest Bordelon sibling states. “I love that she’s really pretty unusual, and I think she’s flawed and very human. I love that I never quite know where she’s going. And I also love that anything is possible with Nova.”

Like the typical African-American family, Nova isn’t the only one dealing with conflict. Here sister, Charley Bordelon West is constantly attempting to whether her own storm.

“Charley’s strength is a little superheroic,” Dawn-Lyen Gardner, who plays the character said. “She is really one of the most resilient characters I [believe] I’ve ever played.”

Each character is complex and multi-layered. Through them, DuVernay has managed to bring the intricacies of Black familial life to 21st-century television. From the characters to the gorgeous setting, every choice feels like a return home.

Queen Sugar airs Wednesdays on OWN.

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Photo Credit: Aaron Smith

EBONY: October/November 2016 – Kevin Hart

Husbands of Hollywood star Kevin Hart is featured in the October/November 2016 issue of EBONY.

In the issue:

Despite his outsized personality, record-breaking comedy tours and nearly 100 million followers on social media, Hart is not your average celebrity. His hustle is otherworldly. His willingness to share his private life with fans feels incongruent in someone with his level of fame. And he was on time for the photo shoot—something that rarely happens but makes total sense once you actually meet him.

“I’m an alien. I’m not from this realm,” Hart tells me later when we finally sit down to chat about his blockbuster year. Although it sounds like pure hyperbole, he may be onto something. He’s starred in 10 movies over the past three years, including such box office hits as Think Like a Man Too, Ride Along, Central Intelligence and The Secret Life of Pets, which alone has made over $600 million worldwide. While he dominated the big screen, the comedian also made moves behind the scenes, producing specials for other comics such as Lil Rel, Keith Robinson and the Plastic Cup Boyz.

The fifth season of his hit BET show, Real Husbands of Hollywood, premieres October 11, and Hart recently inked a deal with Lionsgate to launch Laugh Out Loud, the first subscription-based multicultural comedy network. If that weren’t enough, he’s also the first comedian to headline at (and sell out!) an NFL stadium. And he’s done some of this on his own dime. “I spent $13.8 million on it myself,” he says of his latest stand-up concert film, What Now?, which will be in theaters October 14 and opens with a slick James Bondesque storyline, complete with shoot-outs and Halle Berry. Despite it being almost unheard of for an actor to spend that kind of cash on his own project, Hart says the reason was simple: He wants to own it all. “If you’re going to roll the dice, roll it on yourself,” he explains.

“I’m not a content guy. Even with all the achievements, it’s not enough because there’s so much more life to live, and there’s so much more to do and accomplish,” explains the entertainer. “I think the thing that honestly keeps me going is the fact that it’s out there for the taking. I don’t think people really understand that you get out of life what you put into it. The more blood, sweat and tears you have behind the passion, the more rewards you’ll see behind the work.”

It’s fitting that as the shoot begins, Jay Z comes blasting through the speakers. “It’s a celebration of Black excellence,” Jigga raps in “Murder to Excellence” as Hart mugs for the camera while puffing on a hand-rolled cigar. “Success never smelled so sweet …” While he feels blessed to have reached this level of excellence, Hart’s ultimate goal mirrors Hova’s boastful lyrics. “When you talk about making your mark, you’re talking about building a legacy, leaving a blueprint. I’m doing that,” he says.

Husbands of Hollywood premieres October 11th at 9/8c on BET.

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Photo Credit: Keith Major for EBONY

Ebony Magazine: October 2015 – The Roots’ Black Thought & Questlove

Ebony Magazine‘s October 2015 issue features The Roots’ Black Thought & Questlove.

In the issue Black Thought and Questlove are a band of brothers. Questlove says: “I feel like a big part of my identity and maybe my worth, is based in my artistry.”

The Roots are currently featured weeknights on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35/10:35c on NBC.

Ebony Magazine October 2015 - The Roots' Black Thought & Questlove

Photo Credit: Ebony Magazine