Dru is one of the show’s many standout characters because he has many layers. It’s also a testament to Adams-Gray’s acting skills, which have been on display well before he became a member of the Tejada family. Gray won the Canadian Screen Award for his role in the web series 21 Black Futures at the 10th Annual Canadian Screen Awards in 2022.
He also stars in Brother, a film adaptation of the David Chariandy novel of the same name, and had roles in other television series Lost & Found Music Studios, Slasher, Second Jen and Coroner.
Adams-Gray is also looking to get into the business side of the film industry with the launch of his own production company BDB Productions.
CASSIUSLife caught up with the multi-talented creator, and we touched on many topics, including his role in Power Book II: Ghost, of course, portraying a gay character, his fiancée and much more.
Get to know Lovell Adams-Gray in the interview below.
Cassius Life: You’re three seasons in now with Dru. Compare the mindset from walking on set for the first season to now walking on the set for the third season and, more than likely, a fourth season.
Lovell Adams-Gray: They always say, act like you belong here, you’re supposed to be here, and all kinds of stuff. But I feel like as Canadian actors, we have to shed. It takes work to shed the idea that you’re just happy to be here. Because a lot of the time, the programming and especially the culture in our country is that you got to be really grateful and gracious that you’re on set, you’re at the whims of everyone else, and whatever they say goes. And so when you come into this space, when I came into this space, I had to quickly learn that, ‘All right, I belong here, and I need to not ask for permission, just bring what I do and let go.’
And so it took me a second to get that footing underneath me. To be honest with you, I was coming into the show and just being like, ‘Wow, I’m amazed to be working with so many amazing actors, and did I earn my spot?’ Kind of imposter syndrome coming out and all that stuff. But now we’re working on the fourth season, and I feel like all of us as the cast has really gotten really close, and we’ve been able to really nurture a good, strong relationship. And I feel like it’s home now. I feel like not only do I belong, I feel like I’m at home.
I definitely get that feeling now that as the season progresses, you seem more comfortable in the role. You could tell the synergy there, especially how you guys interact with each other on social media and stuff like that. So it’s pretty cool to see y’all a big family now.
So, three episodes in, Dru is showing his darker side now. How does it feel to tap into that, into your character?
So fun. You feel like using it as an outlet. Anything I was feeling, yeah, last year was a little tough emotionally for me. The writing was kind of working to help exercise those things and get it out. I always use my work as an outlet to safely exercise what I’m feeling and truthfully admit what I’m feeling because oftentimes, you can’t really, as we walk around [as] human beings, you can’t really be angry when you want to be angry. You can’t really be sad when you want to be sad. So it was nice to be able to embody those emotions through Dru and really bring him to life. He’s going through a lot, and it only gets deeper and darker as we go on. So see, going forward that he’s really fighting for agency and trying to find his position and also not lose who he identifies as if he is in the process.
I didn’t want to have anything holding me back because I understand the responsibility it is to be a straight actor playing a gay role.
Absolutely. Now since you touched on that, Dru is a unique character. He’s not only a part of a family that’s involved in some shady business and drug dealing and running a criminal drug empire and stuff like that, but he’s also a member of the LGBTQIA community. When taking on that role, I want to know how challenging it was for you as an actor. Did you have to maybe speak with family members or any kind of thing like that?
I’m Caribbean, so there’s a large amount of homophobia in the Caribbean community that we’ve got to exercise, and we got to figure out. So it was a little bit, I wouldn’t say challenging to navigate, but it was something I had to navigate. But I have a really supportive family and really beautiful people around me. And so they’re really supportive and energizing, and I just wanted to get it right. I just want to get it right. To be able to tell the truth and not be shy or tentative or anything like that. I didn’t want to have anything holding me back because I understand the responsibility it is to be a straight actor playing a gay role. It’s a privilege, and it’s controversial in many ways. Not a lot of people feel that should be happening. And so I want to be as sensitive as possible and as truthful as possible in character.
So when I embody this work, and you see me, you’re not looking at him like, “He’s afraid. He’s not going. Why is he not going? Why is he not telling the truth? How come he is not honoring this character’s story?” That’s the most important thing as an actor is to honor the truth and honor these human beings that we’re playing. We’re not just playing characters, we’re bringing fully living, breathing human beings. People want to see themselves on-screen. People want to see themselves represented. And we’re four seasons in. So thank God I’m able to feel like doing that little bit of justice, but I just want get it right. I was really scared. I always wanted to get it right. And my loved ones and family members who are a part of the LGBTQIA community, I wanted to honor them and make sure that they were feeling seen and they’re feeling heard.
Now, Power isn’t your only acting credit. You’re also in a film, Brother. Can you touch on that film and tell me what it’s about and anything else you want to share about that?
Absolutely. Brother is directed by Clement Virgo based on the book by David Chariandy. [It] stars Lamar Johnson, Aaron Pierre, Kiana Madeira, myself and Kiana Madeira’s is my fiancée. Shout out to Kiana [laughs], and it’s such a labor of love. Oh, Marsha Stephanie Blake plays a mother, and she stars as the mother, and she is absolutely phenomenal in this role. She bears her soul to the point where you’re seeing your mother on that. There’s a universality of this–I don’t know if that’s a real word, but I’m going to use it anyway–of being able to embody this collective experience, and she brings it all onto the screen, and she’s [of] Jamaican heritage. And so just to be able to work with her and see how she was navigating this work was such an honor, and it was such a masterclass. So getting to be there just as an actor and just learning from so many of these actors who care and want to embody this work is just like for the last four years, man, I’ve been able to be a sponge man.
I’ve been able to be a sponge and just absorb so many people’s work ethic and talent and time and care for the work. I think about working with Woody [McClain], working with LaToya [Tonodeo], working with Daniel [Bellomy], who plays Zeke, Berto Colon who plays, Lorenzo, my Pops, Mary [J.Blige], Method [Clifford Smith], Michael [Rainey Jr.], Gianni [Paolo], everybody. I can’t not name everybody, I’m sorry. Alex [Lapri]. Everybody comes to hoop. And so it was my biggest thing, I wanted to go, “If we’re going to do a movie in between on a hiatus, I want to make sure that we’re still elevating and we’re still challenging myself in a new way.”
And so, getting to work on this thing, my character plays the role of Jelly. I play the role of Jelly, who’s a DJ that brings the vibes. He’s best friends with Francis, played by Aaron Pierre. And the dynamic, the friendship, the camaraderie, the community, especially because a lot of music is early Hip Hop, Caribbean, the vibes are just so crazy in the film, and I’m so happy I got to be the person that brings that because I love music and I got to zoom in and see from a DJ’s perspective the sounds, the creativity, matching this with this and seeing how everything cut. It was just… Yeah, man, I’m excited for it to come out in the States. Such a valuable movie. I think it’s going to be a classic. I got gifts of foresight (laughs), so we’ll see how it really goes down. But I really believe that, God willing, it’s going to be one to watch.
Awesome. Now, you said you played a DJ in the movie. Do you have any DJ skills, or are you just a playlist maker?
Yeah man. Oh, I can’t lie to you. So I make music as one of my hobbies, and I use Reason and something I’ve been doing since I just came out of high school. So it was fun to be able to actually have the turntables and actually have an old school set, so it’s not the new Serato type of thing where you got to use your laptop. It was straight from the ’80s, old as dirt, and had everything kind of just like I had to do everything manually. And I love manual because you get to really put your hands on it and get the callouses in and really feel how the record spins, and if you scratch it too hard, it’s going to skip it and all these kinds of things. And I found myself making my own mixes that I thought was, I was being able to put in a movie, but that’s not how music rights work.
So I was like, I learned quickly, and you can do whatever you want, but what we pick in the movie is what we pick. So I was mixing songs like from LL Cool J, and I went out and bought so many Isaac Hayes records. You have no idea. I bought them all pretty much, and I got to mix in “Windows of the World.” I got to mix with “Walk On By,” I got to a mix with “Never Going To Give You Up,” just all these songs that was like I could speed it up, slow it down, see how the BPMs matches other songs, how does it flow in sonically to this one. And I was finding all these dope mixes that was just throwing in, and I’m like, “Yo if they let me do my own mix in the movie, it’s going to go crazy.” And they were like, “Nah, we got our own thing because of music rights.”
And I was like, “Ah, well damn.” And then, because the movie goes back and forth in time, so 10 years later, my character no longer has his DJ set. Or in the same way. So they came, and it was a rental. They came and took it back and brought it back to the thing. So when we were doing the 10 years later part, I didn’t have my sound anymore. And I tell you, it created this feeling within me of such deep sadness, not being able to have this character, I felt this character’s voice. I feel like it lent itself to the performance of this overall story overall because it was just something that was happening truthfully and naturally. And being myself have an affinity for music and loving music so much and being able to hear these sounds and put it all together was like, “I can’t do that anymore.”
So we know who’s providing the tunes on the Power sets. It’s probably definitely you.
It’s me or Woody. Woody’s got the tracks too. Woody got the tracks too. I can’t even lie.
I can see that. Now you did mention your fiancée, which is pretty dope. I want to know, being that you’re both actors, how did y’all meet, and how do y’all lean on each other for advice? Do y’all help each other get through filming and other things?
We got to be in the movie together. We got to sharpen each other in that way. We met in 2015. I always get it wrong. She’s right here. So we’ve been together for six years now. So we met in February 2015, the day of my dad’s birthday, and it was at the NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto. We’re both from Canada and were doing this orientation to see if we can work a job during the All-Star weekend. And she was there, and I was like, she’s gorgeous. And I was so nervous I couldn’t even talk to her. But she was reading Gandhi’s autobiography at the time. And so I had just purchased Malcolm X’s autobiography. So that was my like, “Wait, that’s kind of interesting. You’re reading Gandhi, and I’m reading Malcolm X.” And I was like, “That’s going to be my way in.”
And now we’re on pace to get married, and she’s my life partner. I can’t see myself with nobody else. And she’s a master of her craft. I think that my biggest attraction to her is that she’s really talented and such a hard worker.
And I said that, and then that’s where the conversation lived and died. Then, one of my friends knew her, so we were mutual friends on Facebook. And then I got her on Instagram, and she asked me… I think I sent her a picture of Malcolm X, [to see] the book to prove that I wasn’t just capping. And then it was cool, whatever. And then she asked me if I got paid from the event yet. It was maybe two weeks later, and I’m like “not yet.” And that kind of started the whole conversation. We just became friends from there, and we were just really supportive of each other. We help each other with our self tapes and it’s kind of just blossomed from there.
And now we’re on pace to get married, and she’s my life partner. I can’t see myself with nobody else. And she’s a master of her craft. I think that my biggest attraction to her is that she’s really talented and such a hard worker. And to the point where I’m like, “I can’t be slacking.” I feel like as a man; I’m like if she looks at me and says like, “All right, well you’re lazy, you’re not doing nothing.” Like she’s going to go (laughs).
So I’m like, “No, I got to make sure that all my stuff too.” And every time we come back to the show, making sure that I can go as deep as I can in my work and challenge myself to do something new. The writing is so good that they do it for us a lot of the time. And so I think we have some longevity ahead of us, God willing. And we live together here in New York, and it’s just been some good stuff. It’s been some good stuff. And right now, she’s doing the press release for Perfect Addiction, a film she’s leading, and she’s an MMA fighter, super amazing in that movie. Got to go see us… It’s jumping on Amazon Prime in the States very soon. So I got to plug that a little bit. Yeah, shout out to Kiana man. She’s my rock.
Shout out to her. That sounds like a movie in itself. A short film in itself.
We’ve done a short film together too. That’s the funniest part.
That’s fire. Based on your role in the show, are people always shocked to find out that you’re about to be married?
No, not really man. Not really. I feel like a lot of the attention I get in the city is just related to the Tejada family. Oh, that’s Monet’s son. I always get… This is my favorite quote, “Hey, you got to tell Kane to chill.” But everyone’s been so beautiful, so loving, so respectful, and it’s just been an outpour of love, which has been, for the last three, four years, the biggest gift. Even when I go back home, I get an outpour of love, and I love that because I’m like, “Wow, this is where I’m from, and I want to build here as well.” So it’s nice to know that the work is getting recognized in that space and be able to see if I can parlay this into something else and try to build at home. Because I really think that’s important.
Absolutely. Well, it could be like Riq. I’m telling you, they did not like him. People were literally holding belts to the TV screen, saying he needed his ass whooped. So you know you are good.
But Michael is such an amazing guy, and he has a beautiful sense of humor. So he played off of that. And then I think that’s the most important thing is no one’s really hateful in terms of the fandom in the Power universe, at least not from what I experienced. And everyone just is like, it’s that New York vibe of a really strong thick skin and a sense of humor about it. You can’t take yourself too seriously. You can’t take this thing too seriously. Yes, we are bringing truthful characters to life. At the end of the day, if you’re making a funny face when you’re crying in the scene, that might be a meme, and you got to roll with it and have some fun because that’s what the culture is. And I love that about our culture. We can laugh at everything. That’s why we thrive.
You said your fiancée is playing an MMA fighter in her next film. Maybe she can give you a few pointers because, I’m sorry, Dru is catching some Ls this season.
Everybody’s sneaking Dru man. Everybody’s sneaking Dru. That’s the only time you’re going to get Dru is if you’re sneaking him because if you square up on him, he’s ready. And I think going forward you’ll see Dru’s going to get his licks in too.
I’m looking forward to that. You deserve to have some retribution. You did get to redeem yourself a little bit. Now you also have a production company. Can you talk a bit about that, and can you talk about any projects you are working on with your production company?
Oh, absolutely. We’re working on our first feature right now called All For Nothing. It takes place in Toronto, and it’s about an enforcer for the mob who learns to meditate. And that’s all I’m going to talk about it. But it’s my baby. It’s a labor of love. It talks about a lot of themes that are really important to me. Faith, redemption, healing and just trying to navigate your space in a world where you’re told you don’t belong. I don’t know about you, but a lot of people in my life, myself included, have felt like they don’t belong in the world.
And I want my work to speak to people and tell them they belong in the world. That you belong here, that your life matters, that you are invaluable, that your experience is valid, and that your thoughts, your ideas, your mind, and your perspective is all important and really matter. And you can never do anything that isn’t redeemable. You can’t come back from. As long as there’s breath, there is hope. And so you can always find a way back. And so I wanted to make stories based on that and talk about the perspective of life and death and how different people view it. Different cultures and different religions view the cycle of life and death and how necessary it is, but also how the grieving process can be transformed. And so that’s what the film is about.
I’m going to talk about all that in this movie. But I think, and from my perspective as an artist, writer, producer and actor, I want to talk about those things going forward. That’s where I’m at right now in my mind and my spirit. That’s what I feel like calling me to do is talk about these things, and as long as I can, I want to. And as long as it makes sense. BDB Productions is the company; we’re all based in Toronto, seven brothers, Self, Frank, Ryan, Manuel, Brandon, Leighton, and Adrian Walters. And we all have different perspectives as black artists. We all come from different walks of life. And so what we bring to the table, we all write, we all produce, some of us direct, and we all have this unique perspective when it comes to our work and what we want to talk about.
And so we’re a platform for artists of color to try to elevate and highlight. But you are trying to go to the world man, you try to go out, and our mission is to really branch out and be out there and tell the biggest stories on the highest platform. And so we’re building quiet, we’re in the lab, keeping our head down and just focusing. And you’ll hear about us sitting here with our work really soon. We got two short films out when I’m doing the festival run right now. And yeah, I’m really excited man. I’m really excited, really excited because it’s something that we’ve been working on for years.
And to see it happening. To see it building is beautiful.
That’s fantastic. I’m looking forward to all the work kind comes out of that man. Happy to hear that.
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