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EXCLUSIVE: Omar Epps & Shanley Caswell Discuss Playing Cops & Their Evolving Relationship In ‘Power Book III: Raising Kanan’

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Power is a unique show because there are technically no “good guys.” Characters like Power’s James “Ghost” St. Patrick, Tommy Egan, or Power Book II: Ghost’s Riq or Raising Kanan’s Raq are “ain’t sh*t” in their own ways, yet viewers still root for them to come out on top.

If there are characters to root against in every episode of Power, it has to be anyone in a law enforcement capacity. In Power Book III: Raising Kanan, Detective Howard (Omar Epps) and his very skeptical partner Detective Burke (Shanley Caswell) step into the “villain” role.

Omar Epps & Shanley Caswell Talk Playing Cops In 'Raising Kanan'

Source: Starz / Power Book III: Raising Kanan

There’s a subtlety that people don’t realize, at least for Howard, is that he’s policing the community he grew up in. That’s Howard, and that’s kind of going over people’s heads. That’s why he’s so serving, if that’s the right word, towards people in the neighborhood because he grew up there.

Omar Epps & Shanley Caswell Are Embracing Their Roles In Raising Kanan

Speaking with Cassius Life, Epps and Caswell discussed how playing police officers in Raising Kanan isn’t as black and white as it seems. According to Epps, an even bigger concept about Detective Howard is going over people’s heads.

“There’s a subtlety that people don’t realize, at least for Howard, is that he’s policing the community he grew up in. And when we are in 2022, that’s a big topic of conversation cops should be policing the neighborhoods that they come from because then they know the people, they grew up with this guy’s father, mother, what,” Epps begins. “That’s Howard, and that’s kind of going over people’s heads. That’s why he’s so serving, if that’s the right word, towards people in the neighborhood because he grew up there. But I think, when Burke comes in, she’s the oddball. It’s like, “Well, who’s this white chick in the neighborhood?” But she’s with Howard, so nobody messes with her. So they don’t know what’s going on. Like, “Oh, okay. This is weird.”

Power Book III: Raising Kanan

Source: Starz / Power Book III: Raising Kanan

Caswell echoed Epps’ sentiments and added the complexities of being a woman in New York City and working NYPD in the 90s.

“I think it’s been really interesting playing this part, especially in 2022, as somebody who steps in as an outsider and is learning all the ropes,” Caswell said. “I had to ask myself a lot of questions about how comfortable am I with this, representing this. But it’s telling a real story, and the ’90s were a tough time in New York City, and a tough time for women in New York City, women cops in New York City. And so I think focusing on that story and telling that story is the one that I sort of latched onto.”

Howard & Burke’s Relationship Continues To Evolve

Epps and Caswell also touched on the evolution of their characters from season one going into season two. Caswell revealed Burke will ask more questions and be even more troublesome. Epps added that Howard is showing Burke “tough love” to keep her at a distance.

“In season one, we see Shannon kind of thrust into this new role, learning the ropes and everything that’s going on, and she’s just listening and watching. And then, in season two, she steps up and is asking more questions and getting a little bit more bullish. And so it’s fun she becomes a little bit more troublesome,” Caswell explained. 

“For Howard, season one, he’s the man, he has control whether it’s in the department, whether it’s on the streets, and he’s forced to work with Burke, and he doesn’t like her at first, but then he builds sort of this begrudging respect for her because of her persistence,” Epps begins. “And he looks at her kind of like a thorn in the side, she’s not going to make it, but by the end of the season, there’s like this sort of mutual respect. And then when we roll into the second season, he’s showing her tough love but out of protection. Because as Shay just said, she starts asking all these questions that her partner got shot, so who did it? And he knows that she doesn’t know what she’s really stepping into. So he tries to push her away, but from the space of protection.”

Power Book III: Raising Kanan’s second season has already kicked off on Starz, and you can peep our recap of the premiere episode by heading here. You can also check out our interviews with Hailey Kilgore (Jukebox), Malcolm Mays (Lou Lou), and series creator Sascha Penn. 

Photo: Starz / Power Book III: Raising Kanan