(NEW YORK) — On Sunday night, Forest Whitaker will take on the role of Harlem crime boss Bumpy Johnson in the EPIX drama Godfather of Harlem.
While the series will center on Bumpy’s life after prison when he returns to his neighborhood that is now being run by the Italian mob, the series will also show another compelling story. It will follow Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Teddy Greene, an aspiring musician who ends up falling in love with an Italian mob boss’ daughter.
“He’s trying to figure out his voice,” Harrison Jr. tells ABC Audio of his character. “He kind of mirrors Sam Cooke in a lot of ways.”
Harrison Jr. says it’s his “relatable” character that helps keep the 1960s set series young. In fact, he also notes that the themes of love, race relations, and finding one’s voice are also thoroughly explored through his character.
“He ends up dating the Italian mob’s daughter and they hate to see it,” Harrison Jr. says. “They don’t want to see interracial love. They don’t want to see what that looks like, and he’s navigating that, and also finding his political voice and what that means too.”
“What does that mean to him as a young black man to date this woman and does she really understand who he is. And does that matter,” he continues. “So, he’s exploring a lot of those themes and within the show and it’s exciting.”
Whitaker agrees and adds the show’s main focus is to tell stories from “diverse points of view that are culturally impactful.”
“Stories that deal with people dealing with not just contemporary but issues of the day,” he says. “But that entertain… and allow.. people of color and others to be able to have their voices heard.”
Godfather of Harlem airs Sunday night on EPIX.
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