ISU alum makes it big.
In 2007, LaRoyce Hawkins was a freshman acting major at ISU. Anyone who has lived through freshman year knows that this can be an unnerving time, but for Hawkins it would mark the beginning of what has become a very successful acting career.
After taking a brief hiatus from ISU in order to accept a role in the movie “The Express,” Hawkins finished his degree and went on to accept a role on NBC’s spin-off series “Chicago P.D.,” which airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m.
This week, Hawkins spoke about his experience as a rising actor and the role that his time at ISU played in his success.
Tell us about Chicago P.D.
The city of Chicago is really the P.D.’s main character, and we as actors do the best that we can to reflect it. Chicago is just as beautiful as it is ugly. Just like people. You see people make bad decisions, but you also see them redeem themselves. On P.D., you see the people who make up the city make mistakes and redeem themselves in that same way.
Can you shed some light on the character you play?
Kevin Atwater is a police officer by day and something like a hustler by night. He has quite a powerful social life because he is originally from the hood, and he uses this part of his past to help him on the job. Kevin has got his hands in a little bit of everything; he is truly able to live in both worlds. He cuts a deal with some photographers who want to use images of a squad car, but he only cuts those corners because he has to provide for his family. He has a brother and sister at home, and his parents aren’t around.
This show is definitely going to present people who are struggling with heavy conflicts. There is a scene in one of the episodes where my partner and I are called in because a poor mother stole a loaf of bread from a liquor store because her children need to eat. So do we arrest her, or show her mercy because she has a family to feed?
How did you get this part?
After I returned to ISU, I wanted to focus on schoolwork and get my degree, so I told my agent only to call me if something big came up. I got a call to audition for “Chicago Fire” [the show which “Chicago P.D.” spawned from], and naturally I couldn’t pass that up. While I was still at ISU, I was on hold for the role of Otis.
I wasn’t able to play that part because the network changed the character’s ethnicity, but when “Chicago P.D.” came along, they were still thinking about me, and I am very grateful to them for keeping me in mind.
How did attending ISU help you get where you are today?
Going to ISU was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Freshman year was interrupted by the movie opportunity. If I hadn’t gone to ISU, who knows if I ever would have broken into the business. I was in the right place at the right time.
Leaving ISU was also great because I was able to apply everything I learned while I was there, and that has definitely helped me to get where I am today.
Do you have any new projects coming up that you’d like to tell us about?
I was in Miami this week shooting the pilot for a show called “Ballers” with The Rock and Mark Wahlberg. I play a football player named Rodney Slater. I’m really hoping it gets picked up.