The transformation of Omari Hardwick from being dished supporting roles to a leading man is captivating and sits him nicely to becoming a Hollywood a-lister. He sure is now one of Hollywood’s most sought-after leading actors.
Omari has captivated audiences in the hit Starz TV crime series Power, convincingly playing the multilayered character James “Ghost” St. Patrick
Hardwick’s is an inspiring story, rising from a struggling actor living in his car to in-demand actor who is giving back to others.
The star went from homelessness to being the lead in one of TV’s most talked-about dramas, Power. His journey to becoming a Hollywood A-lister may not have happened if not for his wife, Jennifer. Also, Power creator Courtney A. Kemp encouraged him to take the role of drug kingpin James “Ghost” St. Patrick, and Denzel and Pauletta Washington gave him money to keep his car from being repossessed.
The star wastes no time in admitting his wife played a huge part in landing the role.
“Truth is: I was hesitant to say yes to this show initially,” he wrote in a caption underneath a photo of himself outside the Starz hit show’s fictional nightclub, Truth.
“Perhaps it truly was an example of what it looks like when we run from our call, in this case…mine-to be of high stature in this business. I was cool with the decade of work being 1 where my craft & presence played its part. Between the 45 days of prayer from a one @mrsjaeh asking God to “help me embrace my Power & Dominion” (yes, that word: power), & sitting down even a month after THAT with a one @ckagbohofficial & then talking to a one @50cent …..God had answered that prayer & spoke to me.”
Thanks to goodness Omari made the right decision. The show has become an undisputable hit, currently filming its 4th season and up for a People’s Choice Awards for Favorite Premium Drama Series.
Who says God doesn’t answer prayers?
Hardwick is now using his elevated status to take on social issues affecting Black people and, that is something he seems quite passionate about, and for perhaps good reasons.
Born “Omari Latif Hardwick,” he grew up in Decatur, Georgia. Hardwick’s parents gave him a name to set a precedent, “Omari” meaning “most high,” and “Latif” meaning “gentle.” He shares, “I in no way believe that I am the highest or most high, but I feel like my name gives me something to strive for.” Growing up, sports were Hardwick’s world, but early on he knew he had a passion for the arts. By the age of 14, Hardwick was writing poetry on a regular basis, a passion he would carry with him into adulthood. In high school, he excelled at basketball, baseball, and football, and went on to play football at the University of Georgia. Although a star on the field, Hardwick never gave up his passion for acting, and minored in theatre in college. He shares, “I hugely attribute sports to my success in entertainment business. Being on the field taught me dedication and discipline – I already came from a strict household when I was growing up, sports just took that to another level. Whenever I approach a set, I always feel as though the cast, crew, director, are all part of a team. I have always married athletics and art, two huge parts of my life.”
After graduation, Hardwick relocated to San Diego for a spot on the San Diego Chargers (NFL) however a knee injury cut his football career short. He decided to revisit his original passion for acting, and moved to New York to study his craft more extensively. In New York, Hardwick studied off Broadway until 2000, when he made the move to Los Angeles. As a struggling actor, he worked odd jobs to pay for acting classes, however the security gigs and substitute teaching at times were not enough to make ends meet, and at one point he lived out of his car. Hardwick shares, “what is so crazy, is that where I presently shoot my series ‘Dark Blue,’ is where I lived in my car when I first moved to Los Angeles. It is surreal at times.”
Hardwick’s first big break came in 2003, when he was cast in his first major role as a series regular in Spike Lee’s Sucker Free City (2004). Two years later, he landed the feature The Guardian (2006) and TNT’s Saved (2006) – both of which he booked within a three-week span in 2005. He notes, “I felt like I had arrived when I went back to one of my odd jobs that had let me go several years prior, and I looked out over Sunset Boulevard right next to the Chateau Marmont, and saw myself plastered on a billboard overlooking the city. I had to break down a little at that point, it was a big moment for me.” Throughout 2007 – 2009 Hardwick worked on various projects, including guest starring on several television series, and filming several movies including Summit Entertainment’s Next Day Air (2009) and Touchstone Picture’s Miracle at St. Anna (2008). In 2008 he landed the role of “Ty Curtis” on the TNT series Dark Blue (2009). Season 1 aired throughout 2009.
In addition to acting, Hardwick is a founding member of Plan B Inc. Theater Group, and a co-founder of Los Angeles Actor’s Lounge. He has big plans for his production company, Bravelife, in 2010 as well, and plans on expanding the company. Hardwick also continues to work on his poetry, and has written over 4,000 poems.
After winning a state football title at Marist in Atlanta, Georgia, Omari was a starting defensive back in college for the Furman Purple Paladins (1993-1994) before transferring and playing the same position for the University of Georgia Bulldogs (1995-1996).
He is an accomplished poet and has finished in the top five of the US national Poetry Slam competition in 2003 and 2004.
Co-founded the “Actors Lounge” at Los Angeles’ Greenway Theater where young actors perform dramatic sketches for audiences, directors and producers.
Coached and mentored Denzel Washington’s son, John David Washington as a football player at Campbell Hall in Beverly Hills, California before he went on to become a standout at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.