The star of Power Book II: Ghost, Michael Rainey Jr, readily admits he felt the nerves going from support star to the lead actor in Starz’ Power Book spin-off series.
Rainey plays Tariq St Patrick, a role he first played at the age of 12 in 2013. His father was the Ghost (Omari Hardwick) in the hugely popular New York crime series.
In Power Book II: Ghost Story, Rainey has graduated to the lead character, playing Tariq at a posh university, but utilising his street-level villainy and wiles to get what he wants.
At the age of 20, Rainey was initially daunted by his newfound position of carrying an entire series. “It’s a way, way bigger responsibility,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “At first I was kind of nervous about it, but once I saw some of the familiar crew members [who joined from Power], I felt a lot more comfortable.”
Then there was the Power fan base. They are enthusiastic, to say the least. “At first I was like, ‘Damn, this is crazy! What’s wrong with these people?’ But after some time I realised this is what I do it for — to get a reaction, whether it’s good or bad.”
Kentucky born and New York raised, Rainey revealed that he was Jamaican by inclination and had spent part of lockdown back in his mother’s home country. In fact, when COVID-19 struck with two more episodes of Power Book II: Ghost left to shoot, he shot through to the Caribbean.
“It’s everything,” he said of life back home (he recently became a Jamaican citizen). “I would definitely live there full time if I could.”
Rainey has had a spectacular career for one so young. He was spotted by a talent scout on the streets of New York aged nine and soon found himself playing a son in a hit Italian music video. From there he graduated to a role in 2010 Italian drama Another World. Before long he was starring in Netflix hit Orange is the New Black.
Now, in 2020, he’s ascended to the lead in his own series, while America is in the grip of wave after wave of turmoil, a transition that weighs heavily on his mind. As the Black Lives Matter movement gains momentum, Rainey acknowledges how he can represent a more diverse society.
“TV and music is really what controls the world,” he said.
Power Book II: Ghost is available on Amazon Prime Video channel Starzplay, available for £4.99/month, but only available to those already subscribed to Prime.
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