Michael Rainey Jr. Talks On-Set Advice From 50 Cent + ‘Power Book II: Ghost’

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Photo Source: Myles Aronowitz

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At just 19, Michael Rainey Jr. has already gone from starring on one of the most successful series on premium-pay television with Starz’s “Power” to leading his own spinoff show, “Power Book II: Ghost.” Backstage sat down with the young talent to discuss on-set relationships, contending with more responsibility, and playing to the singular life circumstances of his character, Tariq St. Patrick.

Taking over as the lead on “Power Book II: Ghost” was a challenge.
“Obviously, it’s a whole new responsibility for me. It’s a different type of workload, different call times, [and] a lot more scenes, so I kind of just wanted to approach it like it’s something new. At first I was a little nervous, but I’d seen a lot of old faces from the original series; even the new crew and the new cast, they made me super comfortable. Adjusting to get into that mode [of] being the leader of the whole crew and cast, being No. 1 on the call sheet—it made it a little easier for me to get into my groove.”

Rainey focused on playing the opposing elements in Tariq’s life.
“I try to keep it as natural as I can, but obviously, with this new season, new spinoff, it’s a different type of Tariq now. It’s definitely a different approach, because to me, he’s grown up. You see him making those grown man decisions now; he’s not the same kid as he was on the original series…. The dynamic of Tariq happens in the streets to get money for [his mom’s] lawyer and then, obviously, him having to finish school, to graduate so he [can] get his [inheritance] from his father. So he’s playing those two sides. And the grittiness is still there; the realness, as far as the drug lords in New York, all of that stuff, is still there. But it’s also a different dynamic now, because Tariq, he’s in school, he’s young, he’s around kids his age, so they get to see Tariq be a kid now. They get to see him act around people his age and just be himself rather than trying to be that tough kid around all the adults.”

Solid on-set relationships yield the best results—and the best advice.
“Having a good relationship with everyone on set is so important when it comes to making TV shows and movies, because if you have a great relationship with everyone, nothing can really go wrong. One of the things that 50 [Cent] told me…this was Season 3, when Tariq and Kanan [played by 50 Cent] first started hanging out in the show, so me and 50 would have a lot of scenes together, and we were working. So we were in the trailer one day; we were just chatting it up. One thing he told me that always stuck with me was, ‘Never feel too entitled to something, because that’s when you deprive yourself.’ ” 

Want to hear more from Rainey? Watch our full Backstage Live interview below and follow us on Instagram: @backstagecast.

This story originally appeared in the Sept. 3 issue of Backstage Magazine. Subscribe here.

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Briana Rodriguez
Briana is the Editor-in-Chief at Backstage. She oversees editorial operations and covers all things film and television. She's interested in stories about the creative process as experienced by women, people of color, and other marginalized communities. You can find her on Twitter @brirodriguez and on Instagram @thebrianarodriguez
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