50 Cent was looking for the right deal. Indeed, the hip-hop mogul knew that he had all the pieces in place for an intriguing television drama. The rap superstar turned executive TV producer and well-connected show runner, Courtney Kemp Agboh, envisioned their plot-twisting story—about wealthy New York City nightclub owner/drug conglomerate head, James “Ghost” St. Patrick, who caters to the city's elite and notorious movers—as the classic tale of a man trying to go legit. But 50 didn’t like what he was hearing from the powers that be.
“We actually talked to a few different networks,” he tells VIBE on the NYC set of Power on a cold February afternoon. “[But] they picked it up on the Starz Network. We got an all-star cast and team together, so I’m excited about. I’m serving as executive producer on this project, so you will the chance to see what I came up with.”
Set to premiere this summer, Power boasts an interesting mix of newcomers, veterans and actors poised for the proverbial breakthrough with The Good Wife writer Agboh running point. Naturi Naughton (Notorious) plays Ghost’s no nonsense wife Tasha St. Patrick. There’s also Debbi Morgan, La La Anthony, Lele Loren and Joseph Sikora, who turned heads with his scene-stealing performance on the buzz-heavy HBO crime anthology True Detective.
In other words 50, who will have a recurring role on the gritty hour-long series, isn’t playing around. We caught up with the man to talk about the making of Starz’ Power, his first foray into casting, and why Carmelo Anthony’s significant other is poised to shock more than a few people. —Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)
VIBE: You told me years ago that "This is where I want to go." And when people hear that it’s the cliché thing to say. But just talk about how you got involved in this project. It’s all come to fruition for you, right?
50 Cent: Right. This project actually started in the SOHO House with me and Mark Canton. Mark is an actual producer of 300. He’s brought you so many hits I can run through a line…Bad Boys, The Bone Collector, Krush Groove, the Prince movies, Purple Rain….a lot of hit material. So I actually sat with him and we talked about developing this project. And he actually made the connection between me and Courtney Kemp [Agboh] of The Good Wife. Following that, me and Courtney ran with the ball. We got together and started developing with concepts and ideas for the actual show. It came all the way together.
The Power plot is that classic "I’m trying to become legit" storyline. The guy that has his own club, but also has his past.
Well, it’s a dream he has. Actually it’s his father’s dream. Father owned a nightclub and the Ghost character, played by Omari Hardwick, is in an interesting space in his life. And the arc for his character is really interesting because it has women as representations for both routes. It has a theme of a love story and it has a lot of action and drama that you would have [since the story takes place] from the streets of New York City. He’s making it to the point to where you would actually be able to financially buy the nightclub with no problem and own the places and things you see in the actual [series].
But he desperately wants out…
Right. The majority of the people that I grew up around that found themselves in that actual lifestyle were doing it to earn enough to not have to work for someone. When they got enough they were going to invest in other things and move on and out of that actual lifestyle. And this is [Ghost’s] attempt to do it when everyone else around him is still conditioned for him to go the other way.
Did you have a hand in the casting?
Yeah, I did. Omari came to mind early. I got the chance to see some of his work in different projects that he did and I was like, ‘He’s next.’ He’s going to be one of those guys that takes off and be a leading man and this project will be that thing that catapults him to that actual point. And Naturi, obviously I got the chance to see the Notorious film [laughs] and her work as Lil Kim. And when I saw her and she came in and read for the character I was like, "Wow." Like she was 6 foot 1 on the actual screen. The attitude and energy she brought made it a perfect character.
And La La…we were actually in communication because I was doing business with Carmelo Anthony for SMS Audio. He’s an actual equity owner and investor in SMS as an audio brand. So we got the chance to talk about it and La’s been really working. I don’t think people know how focused she’s been on the actual acting portion of it. It’s that breakout thing for her also. When they see her performance in this project you are going to tell that it’s not what you are used to [in terms of] what you have seen from her in the past.