Exclusive: Chicago P.D. Actor LaRoyce Hawkins Talks New Romance On ShowPosted by Wilson Morales
November 14, 2018
For all of the six seasons that NBC’s Chicago P.D., which stars Jason Beghe, Jon Seda, Jesse Lee Soffer, Patrick John Flueger, Marina Squerciati, LaRoyce Hawkins, and Amy Morton, has been on, most of the characters have had an love interest on the show; with the exception of Det. Kevin Atwater (played by Chicago native Hawkins).
The Dick Wolf drama centers on the men and women of the Chicago Police Department’s District 21, who pursue the perpetrators of major street crimes in the “Windy City.”
This Wednesday, Atwater is finally getting a love interest, played by Milauna Jemai and maybe it will change the direction in his character.
Atwater started out appearing in Chicago Fire before landing a regular on P.D., and from the first season, we have seen his role in Voight’s Intelligence Unit increase as well as his confidence. As some members have come and gone, Atwater continues to be a major force on the squad.
Hawkins is also an accomplished stand-up comic, spoken-word artist and musician. Among his film and TV credits are the feature film ‘The Express,’ MTV’s “Underemployed,” ABC’s drama ‘Detroit 187’ and the TBS comedy ‘Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.’ He has appeared on stage in ‘By The Way, Meet Vera Stark’ (Goodman Theater in Chicago), “Hoodoo Love (Athaneum Theater in Chicago), “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ and other legit productions.
What are we getting out of this particular episode that’s airing this Wednesday?
LaRoyce Hawkins: We’re getting another side of Atwaterr. We’re getting pieces of Atwater, honestly, that we haven’t seen before. One of them involves romance and I’m grateful for the opportunity. I’ve been on the show for a minute, and I’d like to think that every season I’ve been able to add a little bit more to my game. When I first got on this show, I was pretty wet behind the ears and I didn’t know how much potential this character had, and I like to think that I’ve grown into a pretty good guy, and I think he deserved his opportunity for a little bit. I’m grateful that we definitely got it and I think he’s going to have fun in this episode. I really do think that there’s going to be a turning point, not just for the character but for the show, because we’re showing textures that we’ve yet to see.
We’ve seen Atwater’s family background in the past and like you said, you’ve never had that romance before. Why do you think it took so long to establish that?
LaRoyce Hawkins: Well, I think it’s probably a combination of a lot of things, man. We have a big, great cast and I’m pretty sure the writers do their best and make sure that they share the ball as often as they can and run as many different plays through us as they need to. I think we’re all so good at different things that it took about six seasons for us to find ourselves here, but I’d like to think that that’s just a testament to a great show, a show that has a deep bench.
I think there’s still a few things, not just with Atwater, but a few other characters, that we have to yet to touch. One day we’ll get there and it’s going to help the show look great, because it’s going to show our longevity and our depth. So yeah, like I said, it’s hard to really put your finger on exactly why it would take so long for one to find love, but I’m just glad it happened. I think it happened with the perfect woman. I think we had the perfect director (Christine Swanson) on this episode, I think we had perfect guest stars. With the way that the stars aligned, it’s hard for me to complain.
How comfortable is it for you as an actor when you’re on a show like this where six seasons in you know you have a job to do? You know you have that base of an audience and they know your work? You’re starting to do these interviews now that we can know more about you the actor as well as the character.
LaRoyce Hawkins: Well, I think that’s good. I think one of the things about our show is that we have a mindset that doesn’t really allow us to get that comfortable even with our whole audience. You know even with the Dick Wolf institution that it might seem as permanent and powerful as possible, we don’t treat it like that. We go to work everyday doing our best to make sure that we give our audience something new, something fresh. We learned that we have very, very dedicated fans, people who pay attention, closer to details than we do sometimes. So oftentimes, we just really leap at the challenge to be able to throw our audience off, an audience that we know probably not expects certain things, or they’re probably used to a certain vibe. And that’s where I think basically I can bloom so powerful, because it’s really going to be a different texture for an audience that has kind of been very used to a certain style or so for about six seasons.
And you’ve seen as we’ve grown and as certain characters come and go, the show just kind of continues to find a way to evolve. I like to think that’s part of the reason why we are strong on Wednesday nights, and the One Chicago world has come together so powerfully, because every show within this universe just really dedicates itself to rediscovery and not just chilling in the pocket.
How are you with the rest of the cast? Is it all work or do you guys get together after you finish taping?
LaRoyce Hawkins: Man last night, I had an amazing Italian dinner with Parick Flueger, his mom and dad. Tracy Spiridakos brought her mom out here for the first time. We all shared dinner after I hosted a wedding. We find windows to kick it even when it’s the weekend. Hopefully you can see that chemistry, you can feel that synergy on screen, because on there and on set, it’s pretty real. We’re family.
When you watch these Dick Wolf productions or other procedural dramas, there’s always one black character on these shows. You’re the one on this show and then you have Eamonn Walker on Chicago Fire and Ice-T on Law and Order: SVU. Why is that? Is this new romance going to be a recurring role or is it a one and done episode?
LaRoyce Hawkins: Well, it’s a little above my pay grade to rightly say, but I just hope that we planted seeds enough for us to grow that character a little bit more. I think we did. I think after we teased this episode, our audience is going to fall in love with that character. I truly do. Not just because of how she challenges Atwater, but she really challenges the dynamic of the show. She challenges that character specifically, really challenges the nature of what Chicago P.D. is about, just based on our perspective and how deeply rooted it is and the serious situation that’s that Chicago epidemic. The violence and the crime is one thing, but when you have someone who challenges us to solve problems differently and to have a type of empathy and … Yeah because a type of empathy for our cases in a way that … I don’t know, she taught Atwater a lot, and I don’t think she just taught Atwater. I think the whole unit learned a little bit from her.
And back to your question a little bit, I like to think that that’s what makes our characters unique. So whether you want to talk whether they’re black or white, we add a texture or an extra feeling. That really helps us tell more authentic stories, and so what I appreciate about being the one black character on my show, and I’m pretty sure Eamonn does as well, is that we hold that sole responsibility of adding a vibe to the show that only we can. It’s stories that only Atwater can tell that I’m grateful for, that I’m extremely excited about every time I get a chance. We’ll move the ball around and we’ll introduce black characters here and there, and I would love to see more of them on there regularly, but I also accept the responsibility of being black enough for everybody. Either way, I’m just grateful, and I think that as long as we tell the real stories, they’re authentic and they have a balance, when we’ve got one black character and all white ones or whether we got all black ones and one white one, I think we’re doing a good job.
Are we even going to see you on the big screen at some point?
LaRoyce Hawkins: Yeah, actually, I got a movie dropping at the beginning of next year, it’s called Canal Street. So you’ll see me doing this soft cameo on that. Me and Rhyan LaMarr, who directed that, are from Chicago. He and I got pretty tight over the summer and he threw me in kind of last minute. I play a Jimmy Fallon type character. He has his own talk show and I do a monologue about that situation that happened in the movie, so that’s cool. I’m doing a lot of stage work, believe it or not. Just came off of a comedy tour that I was actually doing on weekends while I was shooting Chicago P.D. I wrapped that up about a month ago. I’m working on probably putting together a poetry tour for the month of April, which is National Poetry Month. I’m doing my best to stay active, doing music, a little bit of everything so I’m not sure where you might see me, bro, but wherever you do it’s going to be a good time.