The Knockturnal spoke with creator of the hit show Power along with one of the show’s lead actors, Joseph Sikora.
The STARZ drama, is set in the streets of New York City, where executive producer 50 Cent was raised and pulls his inspiration for the show from. Courtney A. Kemp, the show’s creator, teamed up with 50 Cent to build off of his vision and implement her own as well.
Initially, Kemp set out to tell her father’s story through Power. Though, the trajectory of the series ended up being ultimately changed, as Kemp’s collaboration with 50 Cent made it clear that he sought to have music at the forefront, and both her father’s story and 50 Cent’s began to merge. “50 and I both are students of the 48 laws of power. He and I both wanted to tell a story that was about power, so things came together really easily. So we merged sort of his story and my dad’s story into the Ghost character. Then we decided to go ahead and tell that story a little bit through the 48 laws of power and just how power works,” she said. Kemp added that although the two do share a similar outlook on life, they do not share similar life experiences, which required team work between them to make the project work. “He wouldn’t know what it’s like to go from being a girl to a woman, any more than I would know how to go from being a boy to a man. So we had to work together to make those two things work and be believable.”
While 50 Cent is the most recognizable face of the show, his influence comes primarily from his suggestions and conversations with Kemp. “50 and I talk a lot in the beginning of the season. Sometimes, something we talked about from 2013, I’ll put in the show and he’ll be like ‘Oh wow! You remembered that?’ You know, my first career is really as a journalist. So, if you think about it, I really have been profiling him for the last four years. So, he’s an inspiration, a muse, and a collaborator.”
In reflecting on her personal success, Kemp refers to her role as both a woman and a mom as driving forces that stick with her through her journey in the industry:
“Trying to be a mom and a show runner is exceptionally difficult. Most of the people I know, who are successful show runners, have a stay-at-home spouse, if they have children and I don’t. When I got pregnant, Robert and Michelle King, from ‘The Good Wife’ said ‘Now, you will never be in the right place.’ And, what I say to young women that want this job is that you can’t have it all. You have to decide what it is you want for your life. What is your ideal life? Then, drive in the direction. I am so fortunate to help other women and provide an environment that is safe. Where they will be promoted and taken seriously. But at the same time, there is a price and I pay that price.” she said. “Still to this day, when there are show runner meetings, I go in, let’s say there’s 60 people there, there’s 5 women. 2 people of color – and I’m counting myself in both of those. A lot of meetings, I’m the only woman. That happens a lot and it happens more than I’m the only person of color. And that’s tiresome. It’s really tiresome. I’m tired of the fact that there are so few of me anywhere and I write about that on the show a lot.”
For three seasons, Joseph Sikora has reprised the role of Tommy on Power. Tommy is Ghost’s former friend and partner, who finds himself deeper into the drug game, while Ghost is on his way out. However, Sikora says that Tommy isn’t limited by his storyline description.
As with the rest of the cast of characters, Tommy evolves into someone who is much more complex than a villain, yet still maintains attributes of the dark, ruthless character that he sets out to play.
Sikora believes that the authenticity of the streets of New York in Power can be attributed to show creator Courtney Kemp Agboh and 50 Cent, who names NYC as his stomping ground.”’50 Cent, who is such an accessible executive producer and comes from those streets that we’re trying to portray. He’s been very influential in terms of storytelling and carrying the characters so that by season 3, Tommy is very lived in … It is New York, but it’s our New York of power.”
Sikora cites his Chicago upbringing as a source in which he pulls from to accurately portray Tommy as well. “Just living life. I’ve definitely created the character based off of some young men that I’ve come across in my youth, running around the streets of Chicago. Which can be a pretty interesting place. Men with corny jokes, that always seem to have death in their eyes. That was an aspect of Tommy that I really wanted to make sure was there. People can often fall into the two dimensionality of it and try to be angry or try to be scary. And, that’s not really how people act in my experience.”
At the end of season 2, we saw a major shift in the relationship between Ghost and Tommy. Sikora says the damages are irreparable and Tommy and Ghost will never be as close as they once were in season 3. “It’s the old expression that a man can never walk into the same river twice, for it is not the same river nor is he the same man.”
Sikora ultimately decided that in order to reflect his character onto the screen, he needed to view the role as an achievement as opposed to anything else. The Chicago native added that as long as everyone plays their part in excellence and does not seek to micromanage, things will always run smoothly – especially in maintaining the relationship between producers, directors and actors. Viewers that tune in to season 3 will see the fate of Tommy and Ghost’s friendship and the unexpected plot twist that occurs.
Season 3 of Power premieres on STARZ July 17.