Power never dies. As Courtney Kemp Agboh continues to expand the Power universe with “Power Book II: Ghost,” there are a handful of new faces that have been added to this complicated equation — a couple of those faces with whom most of us are quite familiar. Clifford “Method Man” Smith Jr. and Mary J. Blige are set to star in the sequel in the roles of Davis Maclean and Monet Stewart Tejada, respectively. Hearing their names mentioned in reference to the same project triggers nostalgia as it instantly reminds people of their 1995 duet, “I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need.” It’s not clear if their characters will cross paths at any point in the series, but the Grammy Award-winning rapper says that he does not believe that it’s by chance that he and Mary were cast for the same project.
“I think it’s dope. I think that the people at Lionsgate and Starz are very smart for their casting choices,” Smith told MadameNoire. “What really drew people’s interest was, ‘Wait, Meth and Mary? Are they gonna do a song together? Well, I gotta check to see what they gon’ do.'”
Don’t get it twisted, though. The “C.R.E.A.M.” rapper was sure to point out that there were no gimmes as far as he and Mary are concerned. They earned their roles just like any other actors with roles on a major television series would have to.
“Let me tell you this, we were hired for a purpose. We weren’t given anything,” said Meth. “We earned our way into this. I look forward to people enjoying Monet Tejada and Davis Maclean.”
And perhaps it’s necessary that he make this distinction. Oftentimes, when recording artists cross over into film, some assume that they were given their roles as a result of their star power as opposed to their actual acting skills. But Smith has an extensive acting resume with roles that range from gritty crime dramas such as “The Wire” to historic war dramas such as Red Tails. However, his role as Davis Maclean stands out from the rest because, as with many of the other characters who exist in the “Power” universe, it’s challenging to categorize Maclean as one of the good or bad guys because one’s perception of good and evil in the “big rich town” can shift in an instant.
“You can expect a brilliant, highly motivated defense attorney,” Meth said of his character. “You’re going to see Davis Maclean and Tyriq’s relationship kind of metamorph. You’re not gonna know whether to love this guy or hate this guy, but you’re going to know that he’s there for a good purpose. I don’t think anyone will be able to place Davis in a box and make him a good guy or a bad guy, but they’re going to have to put him somewhere and that’s the fun part that I get to play with while y’all try to decipher who I am.”
And speaking on the fine line between what’s considered “good” and “bad,” over the years we’ve witnessed marijuana possession go from being an offense that was once punishable in many states with severe prison sentences to now being a legalized and lucrative industry in many of those some states. If feels wrong on many levels, but Smith is seeking to raise awareness around this issue by way of his cannabis line, TICAL, which he intends to use as a platform for activism.
“When the cannabis line first came out, I wanted to separate myself from everyone else. That’s why it took years for me to even do this. The guys I work with, they’re very good guys. They had a great idea: ‘We’re going to focus more on black-owned dispensaries to bring black-owned businesses to the forefront.’ This is our way of contributing to the movement,” Smith said of the brand. “All in all, the thing that really bothers a lot of us is the fact that marijuana can be legalized and basically pay for state taxes but you still have people with marijuana convictions on their records. If there’s any time for clemency, I think that would be an appropriate time. And not just that, but the millions of people of color who were locked up just for even having marijuana on them. There should be a hell of a reparation for it. We should be given dispensaries in actuality.”
Between his acting career, new cannabis venture, and his music, Smith has clearly his hands full. And due to his private nature, we often forget that he is also a family man — an aspect of his life which he is fiercely protective over. However, his face instantly lights up at the mention of family life as he warmly offered parenting pointers the instant he learned that I am a new parent who is still trying to figure out how to balance work and motherhood.
“You’re at the building stage right now — especially with kids. This is where they pay attention to almost everything you do. It’s like having an out-of-body experience and watching yourself do things,” he said. “You can make it less stressful for yourself if when you have your downtime, you make it just that. Don’t think about nothing else so that you have as much energy as you need to take care of your little princess.”
As for how he manages it all, he credits his wife of 19 years and his village.
“I can’t take credit for that. I have a great support system. My wife is incredible. She held the household down for many years while I wasn’t here,” he said. “We’re more of a team now. My family, my mom, my mother-in-law, my sisters. Everybody. I think you need that because to me, that’s true power. Your loyalty and connections to the people you love. And if they last a lifetime, even better.”
“Power Book II: Ghost” premieres on Starz Sunday, September 6.
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