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‘I Pushed, and Pushed, and Pushed’: Omari Hardwick on What Almost Caused Him to Pass on His Leading Role In ‘Power’

For six seasons the cast of “Power” entranced audiences with storylines of drug deals, infidelity, and quite literally the hardships of having power. But for the show’s star, Omari Hardwick, the thought of taking on the lead role was enough to nearly make him pass up the opportunity. 

“I feared it for many a reason, you know,” said Hardwick while speaking with rapper Fat Joe earlier this month on “The Fat Joe Show.” But the biggest reason was a lack of confidence that he could carry the show to success when he was mostly known for supporting actor appearances in movies and television shows.  

Omari Hardwick at STARZ Madison Square Garden “Power” Season 6 Red Carpet Premiere, Concert, and Party on August 20, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for STARZ)

“Ultimately I had to look in the mirror, Joe, and put it on myself and say I think I was really afraid of either grabbing that big a-s mountain and putting it on my shoulders and being ‘the guy,'” said Hardwick, who played James “Ghost” St. Patrick. “I think I was comfortable with people going ‘yo that kid Omari really, that n—a be stealing scenes,’ and I was never that guy ever trying to steal scenes, I was so used to athletics and being a part of a team, but I guess whatever my gift was I dealt with a bad insecurity of pushing that gift way down. … And so as it pertains to being ‘the guy’ in the space of being the lead actor, I feel like I pushed, and pushed, and pushed.”

Hardwick further revealed that it was not until his wife, Jennifer, shared that she had been praying for her husband to rise to the challenge of leveling up as a man, but also in his craft, that he seriously considered the role.

She said, “God, please allow him to embrace his power.” At the time Hardwick only knew 50 Cent, the show’s creator and executive producer, and showrunner Courtney Kemp wanted him for the unnamed pilot. Finding out the show’s name and the correlation between his wife’s prayer made it clear he needed to accept the role.

“I probably had to jump through seven hoops,” said the former beau of Mary Jane Paul on “Being Mary Jane” of his audition process. Playing the drug dealer-turned-nightclub owner catapulted Hardwick into a stratosphere of stardom. Although he’d been acting for nearly two decades, Hardwick said it was an adjustment to accept that he now had a huge fanbase who saw him more as Ghost than Omari.

“The thing that made it difficult to play it [Ghost] — was not being seen, which was weird for me, because I had always been seen in life. But now I’m excited people are finally seeing the guy behind the guy,” he told Essence in February 2020.

“The hardest part is, now, with this generation, perception is reality. And perception being reality is not necessarily coming from the character behind the character until you get to know the character behind the character,” Hardwick said.

As for Ghost’s difficult decision of choosing between his wife Tasha and the real love of his life, DEA agent Angela Valdez, Hardwick’s choice is simple: “I was always team Tommy and Ghost.”

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