Wendell Pierce Loves The Ronnie Comparisons To Omar Little From ‘The Wire’ Says They’re “Fair” & A “Good Observation”


Ronnie (Grantham Coleman) is not the only new character on the Raising Kanan block. This season also introduces Snaps (Wendell Pierce) and Pop (Erika Wood) into the fold, and they are already making their presence felt.

Ishmael “Snaps” Henry, a street legend, a “retired” bank robber and drug dealer, and the love of his life, Stephanie ‘Pop’ Henry, are now in the fold after Ronnie pays them a visit in hopes they would back him on his quest to get his drug empire up and running after his brother Unique (Joey Bada$$) told him to chill.

Ronnie, of course, didn’t listen and killed his brother, leaving the Power Universe in shambles now that their favorite stylish antagonist is dead.

Ahead of Rasing Kanan’s upcoming episode, CassiusLife’s Men’s Lifestyle and Pop Culture writer Bernard “Beanz” Smalls had the opportunity to speak with Pierce and Woods about joining the Power Universe and switching from playing cops to becoming criminals.

Of course, with an original member of The Wire cast present, we had to ask about the comparisons between Ronnie and Omar Little (Michael K. Willams) from the classic HBO drama and if the show could have spawned spinoff franchises like Power.

Erika Woods Loves Being  A Villain

Power Book III: Raising Kanan

Source: Starz / Power Book III: Raising Kanan

If you can’t tell Erika Woods is loving her time as Snaps in Raising Kanan, you’re blind. Woods revealed that it’s about time she played a character on the other side of the law.

I love roles where things are not what they seem…

“Fun. About time. I love it. I feel like I have this alter ego inside of me. I’m so glad. I love roles where things are not what they seem, or you think a person is this way, and this role has taught me you can’t judge a book by its cover. You can’t judge it. So I love it, to answer your question,” Woods told CassiusLife.

Wendell Pierce Says It’s Good To Be On The Other Side

Power Book III: Raising Kanan

Source: Starz / Power Book III: Raising Kanan

For Pierce, this is a significant shift for him because he played a cop for years during his acting career. He described playing Snaps as challenging and allowing him to do something different and innovative.

“I’ve been playing cops from the beginning of my career. It’s good to be on the other side of the law because it challenges me as an actor to do something different, to do something new, to do something innovative,” Pierce begins. “And one thing you can’t do is hate the character you’re playing. You can’t hate the character that you’re playing, so you have to find something that you can attribute to. And I realized that people who are on this side of the law, especially for Black folks who have been marginalized for so long, if you don’t allow me to be a part of the regular economy, I’m going to make a way out of no way in the underground economy. And so I don’t see it as something that is illegal. I see it as something that is adaptable.”

And one thing you can’t do is hate the character you’re playing.

He continues, “So making a way out of no way. And if you look at the history of finance and business in America in itself, if you just look at America and our great wealth, there’s a saying, “Show me a great fortune, and I will show you a great crime.” So when we think about our Rockefellers and our Kennedys and our Carnegies and Fords, like I said, “Show me a great fortune. I’ll show you a great crime.” So right now we’re showing you a great crime, which will build to that great fortune.”

Wendell Pierce Believes The Omar & Ronnie Comparisons Are Fair

Power Book III: Raising Kanan

Source: Starz / Power Book III: Raising Kanan

Ronnie is one of the most terrifying characters in the Power Universe and draws comparisons to The Wire’s Omar Little, brilliantly played by the late Michael K. Williams.

Pierce says he agrees and understands why some people think there are similarities between the two characters.

“I think it’s a fair comparison because what those observations are is the recognition that in our communities, there’s a thin veil between those who choose one path or the other,” Pierce begins. “As I was saying before, to make a way out of no way, through the course of the history of our communities, we’ve known each other. We’ve been a community, right? We’ve been a community. So we know who’s on the right side of the law or the bad, wrong side of the law. We know who can be really violent and others who can be strategic and diplomatic because we are all of the same community. I found when I was playing police officers, most of the black cops became cops because they said the violence and the crime in our community didn’t reflect everybody in the community. It was only one percent. And I wanted to protect the Ms. Anns and Mr. Joes who were doing right.

“At the same time, it was those same gangsters who would be able to see you and say, ‘Hey man, you’re not supposed to be over here. You running with the wrong crowd. You’re doing right. I know your mama. She’s taking care of you. You get out of here before something happens. Something’s about to pop off.’ So the sense of community is the thing that is paramount and that they’re seeing and the relationship between Bunk and Omar and the relationship between Snaps and Pop and Ronnie. ‘We know your brother, we know you. We know how homicidal you can be. Now, here’s the deal. Let’s make sure we leverage this correctly, right? And understand I’ll front you, but we have some conditions.’ And it’s because of that knowledge of community to bring together. It’s a good observation. So I would hope that people would take that from the show as they step into our lives and step into our communities in real life and say, “Hey, listen, do we want this in our community?”

HBO Presents A Night at "The Wire" Benefit for The Ella Thompson Fund - June 9, 2007

Source: Lisa Lake / Getty

He continues, “And if we don’t, can we talk to those who are bringing it into the community so that we can have a dialogue about it and say, ‘I understand where you’re trying to go. Let’s try to solve both issues, bring you some wealth and some promise. At the same time, let’s lessen the detrimental effects on our community.’ I’ve actually gone to the corners where kids have been slinging and said, ‘Hey, what can I do to get you off this corner? If I could get you a gig where you can pay your house note, get a car, and take your girl to the movies on weekends, would you get off this corner?’ They say, ‘Hell yeah.’ So now they’ve given me my challenge: build the economic development that would take him off that corner that leads to slinging, that leads to violence, that leads to the detriment of our community. So, I love that comparison. That’s why we do it. We’re students of human behavior, and that’s what Power is eliciting in the commentary. So it’s a good comparison.”

That’s why we do it. We’re students of human behavior, and that’s what Power is eliciting in the commentary.

A Snaps & Pop Power Spinoff?

Power Book III: Raising Kanan

Source: Starz / Power Book III: Raising Kanan

Power is one of the rare crime dramas to birth multiple spinoffs due to its richness with characters who can carry their own shows and the fact that fans are so enthralled with them and want to know more about them.

Snaps and Pop fit that bill, and Woods and Pierce both agree there is a Power Book for their characters.

“There is a Power Book in Snaps and Pops because we have a history that you want to know about. And also, we’ve been pulled back into the game. We were kind of happy to be where we were, as we say. We were in retirement. If you want us back in the game, we’ll be back in the game. I’ll show you. I’ll show your young butt how to be back in the game. So there is that Power Book that is there. Oh yeah, it’s on the shelf. We’re going to pull that sucker off and open that motherf-cker.

Could There Have Been Spinoffs For The Wire?

American Black Film Festival Honors, Arrivals, Beverly Hilton Hotel, Los Angeles, USA - 23 Feb 2020

Source: Variety / Getty

Sticking with spinoffs, we asked Pierce if he believed The Wire could have had spinoffs, and Pierce shared a story about a prequel movie he suggested to the show’s creator, David Simon, starring Samuel L. Jackson.

“I actually suggested at the end of The Wire, I suggested to David Simon to do a prequel. So you saw how Stringer and Barksdale got the towers before we started,” Pierce told CassisuLife. “They say they took the towers over from this other family, and I had solicited Samuel L. Jackson to play the lead of that family that Idris and Wood took the business over from. And I wanted that to be a movie. And you would’ve seen how McNulty and Bunk got together. You would’ve seen how Stringer and Barksdale took over the towers from the previous family, which was run by Samuel L. Jackson. And David was thinking about it. Then, years later, he told me, “Man, you know I was never going to do that. I just said that to stop you from bugging me so much.” I still think it’s a great idea. But that was suggested. But David said, ‘Look like a good book. You can go back to The Wire over and over again, and no one needs to write a good book over. Let people read it as many times as they want to.’

We would have loved to see that.

Power Book III: Raising Kanan returns this week; you can catch the latest episode when it airs at midnight on Starz.

Photos: Starz /Getty Images