Film and TV legend Harry Lennix, star of NBC’s ‘The Blacklist’, sat with journalists to talk about the 100th episode of the hit series and his new film, Revival.Speaking of revivals, Lennix took the room to church, speaking at length about the convergence of spirituality, race and social justice. I knew he was sober, sharp and mercurially talented, but I didn’t know he could elevate and inspire.
“Salvation: I think we need it sorely as a people, as a demographic, I think the world needs it,” he said.
On ‘The Blacklist’, Lennix plays Harold Cooper, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division. He talked about how the show’s themes relate to real life interactions between criminals and law enforcement.
“I hope Blacklist shows that law, order, and crime and punishment have to co-exist,” he said.
He pointed out that America is and always has been made up of ‘freaks, zealots’ and passionate people with different opinions who have to come together. ‘The Blacklist’, he believes, is honest in the way it depicts these relationships.
“I like the reality that the show suggests, and I think that it does have resonance in the real world,” he said.
He’s promoting the aforementioned ‘Revival’ a Passion play featuring music written by gospel superstar Mali Music. Lennix plays Pontius Pilate, a villain if there ever was one, and a role perfectly suited to his gravely, at times grave delivery. The film was produced by his production company, Exponent Media Group, and features a bevvy of superstar musicians, including Chaka Khan and Michelle Williams. Lennix underscored the importance of providing quality, faith-based entertainment to the Black community.
“This is an underserved market. This is a vital genre. The faith tradition for Black people is what has gotten them through”
Throughout our sit down, he talked about the need for renewed purpose in Black America’s fight for justice.
“Black people were the spiritual bellwether of what the state of the nation was. We squandered it.…but I think we can reclaim that, if we will get back to the business of being in touch with our God.”
It was tough not to get swept up in his words – he is a professional actor, of course – but this was more than that. In a room packed with Black journalists, he delivered a sermon with a fervor and sharpness I’ve only heard from a handful of public figures.
He hopes that Revival will serve as a salve for movies that too often show Black people as slaves, bloodied and beaten.
“Seeing 50 versions of ‘Roots’, who does that help? God bless you if you don’t know the story, please learn the history,” he said.
“But it’s not doing any wonders for Black people and the history of how they’re viewed throughout the world. This is life and death.”
The 100th episode of The Blacklist airs Wednesday, January 17th at 8 pm ET/PT on NBC