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Omari Hardwick, aka Patrick “Ghost” St. James from Power, exudes passion. Recently, the Georgia native was in Harlem to promote Gentleman Jack’s Real To Reel contest.

Hardwick once lived out of his car as a struggling actor, so linking with Gentleman Jack to pay it forward and help aspiring filmmakers was natural.

“The Gentleman Jack brand, well in its name, gentlemanly, it’s as eloquent as they come. Not only in the pour, not only in the look but in terms of who they support,” Hardwick explained shortly after speaking at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.

“They support the NBA, so in my mind, they support a lot of brown kids who just grew up with a basket in their backyard…and one day he ends up in the NBA, that’s pretty amazing. I think sport is art. And equally to do something for young artists who are dreaming of being in my industry—being directors and producer and actors and writers—I think it’s pretty amazing.”

“The stats, the empirical evidence becomes the ‘We told you so.’ That’s the greatest thing in the world for us as Black people.”

Also worth noting, is the cool factor.

“I always wanted to be a part of the coolness that I found as a kid, Billy Dee Williams able to execute with Colt 45. Just from a very basic, carnal level, I always was a kid that thought that was super cool,” Hardwick said.

As for the particulars of Real To Reel—Gentleman Jack Double Mellowed Tennessee joined with Codeblack Entertainment to support up and coming African-American film talent. The participating filmmakers are vying for a chance to win $10,000 and a VIP trip to Miami Beach to screen their short film.

Part of the Real To Reel experience includes a seven-city tour, which features screenings, panel discussions and attendees being granted the opportunity to vote for their favorite short film. St. Louis, Los Angeles, Chicago and Harlem, where Hardwick attended, already went down, while Atlanta happens June 4 and Houston on June 8. The finale date has yet to be determined, but it will be in Miami.

Of course, we had to ask Hardwick about Power being second only to the Game Of Thrones monster when it comes to the most viewers on premium cable television.

“We’ve waited as a people for a long time for a ‘bad guy’ to in the onset or from the onset of our meeting the person to be actually breaking good from being bad,” Hardwick told Hip-Hop Wired.

He added, “I don’t really know if we’ve ever seen a superhero [Ghost] of sorts who on any given week is not necessarily so super And we love the fact that he’s not necessarily so super but trying his hardest to figure it out.”

Interestingly, Power’s executive producers Courtney Kemp Agboh and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson had to fight to cast Hardwick as Ghost. After detailing how the aforementioned pressed for Hardwick, the more the powers that be (no pun) resisted, the sweetest of the numbers proving his worth isn’t lost on Hardwick.

“The greatest thing in the world is when the answer is not answered verbally by Courtney or Curtis or Omari, but the results of the show,” said Hardwick. “The stats, the empirical evidence becomes the ‘We told you so.’ That’s the greatest thing in the world for us as Black people we often have to get to the I told you so, whereas other folks get a shot before I told you so.”

The benefit of a doubt—if only everyone that looked like Hardwick, and had the talent and drive, could be so privileged.

Photo: Courtesy of Gentleman Jack