INTERVIEW: Omar J. Dorsey Talks Black Men's Health

Written by on April 21, 2021

Sure actors have a presence about them. It would not matter what number of traces they’ve or scenes they seem in; they carry one thing distinctive to the display. 

Omar J. Dorsey is such an actor. In reality, he is an actor’s actor. With credit similar to The Blind Facet, Selma, Django: Unchained, Ray Donovan, When They See Us, and Harriet, Dorsey is among the premier Black actors on the scene as we speak. However his signature position in Ava Duvernay‘s critically acclaimed drama Queen Sugar on OWN, (now on hiatus till the autumn) the place he performs Hollywood Desonier, is a fan-favorite. 

BET.com spoke with  Dorsey about enjoying James Cleveland in  Genius: Aretha, Black males’s psychological well being, chatting with up-and-coming actors, being a sneakerhead, and the stress of enjoying revered characters.

BET.com: Omar, you probably did a masterful job of channeling the spirit of James Cleveland within the Genius: Aretha sequence. What was it like getting ready for the position?

Omar J. Dorsey: You recognize, it is loopy. I believe I have been prepping for that position for like two or three years in my thoughts since I noticed Superb Grace. Being a toddler of a pastor, we listened to James Cleveland on a regular basis. So I am watching Superb Grace, and Nick Ashe, who performs my nephew Micah on Queen Sugar, noticed it and mentioned to me, “I believe you would be an excellent James Cleveland.” That was like two or three years in the past. I noticed Cynthia Erivo was enjoying Aretha, and I requested her, “Who y’all bought enjoying James Cleveland?” She mentioned, “They bought anyone, however I am a inform them about you.” That was three or 4 months earlier than Neema Barnette, my Fairy Godmother, who was directing one of many episodes, known as me to play the position. On the time, I used to be going by means of rather a lot with my brother, who was actually sick. However I took it as an indication that I wanted to step into these footwear. I watched Superb Grace so many instances that I knew all of James Cleveland’s mannerisms. I might inform the director Anthony Hemingway how James Cleveland would stand and dab his sweat. I am glad it got here throughout in the proper manner.

RELATED: Cynthia Erivo’s Performance As Aretha Franklin In ‘Genius: Aretha’ Is Incredible

BET.com: This season, Queen Sugar explores a number of the main occasions of 2020, from the worldwide pandemic to all of the protests towards racial injustice. Hollywood is grieving his mom’s loss and going by means of it with Vi (Tina Lifford performs Violet Bordelon). In a single scene, Hollywood is seen organising an internet assist group for the brothers to relaunch his enterprise, The Spot. Why is it vital for Black males to hunt assist for our points?

RELATED: Justice Smith Comes Out As Queer And Reveals He’s Dating ‘Queen Sugar’ Actor Nicholas Ashe

Omar J. Dorsey: My father’s era, so a lot of these Black males, held a lot inside. They thought they needed to be these robust leaders, the place you by no means noticed them sweat. However that stuff will break you down if you do not have anybody to share your points with. It is a blessing now to see my father, who’s a Vietnam vet, have a assist group with different vets on Skype to trade concepts and say no matter is on their minds. I am blessed to have pals to lean on as a result of Black males undergo a lot trauma. I am so glad that Ava  and Anthony Sparks allowed Hollywood to be a conduit for that dialogue to occur. 

BET: How is working with so many sensible Black ladies behind the digicam?

OJM: Pay attention, I had just one lady as a director on an episode of Ray Donovan. My second was Ava. What she’s put collectively for Queen Sugar has modified the trade’s panorama by having a lady direct each episode of the present. I’ve labored with over 50 super ladies. I set to work with Julie Sprint and Neema Barnette, they hadn’t labored in tv in years. Cierra Glaude, who was a 20-something-year-old manufacturing assistant, and Ava gave her a shot to direct an episode. She directed three or 4 plus the George Floyd episode. It is mind-blowing, and the writers on Queen Sugar are a number of the greatest writers on tv. 

BET: Apart from all your tv and movie work, you’re a sought-after graduation speaker. As an HBCU graduate, what did it really feel prefer to be a speaker at Southern College?

OJD: Wow. It was surreal. After they approached me to do graduation for Southern, all I may take into consideration was all of the years of working and simply attempting to construct up. I all the time converse at universities. I’ve pals at my faculty, Georgia State, and the College of Georgia, and I handle their theatre class. One among my greatest pals, Keith Bolden, is a professor at Spelman College, and I converse to his appearing class on a regular basis. My daughter is about to graduate from Howard’s theatre program. So, once they approached me to do the graduation at Southern, I used to be blown away. It was one in every of my proudest moments.

BET: I noticed in your Instagram that you are a severe sneakerhead. Inform me, what are a few of your favourite Jordan’s?

OJD: The 6’s. I really like that shoe with all my coronary heart. I bought a few hundred pairs of footwear, however I really like the Cigar and the Champagne 6’s. I made them get Hollywood the Cigar 6’s for Queen Sugar.  I bought the brand new Navy 4’s. I really like the three’s, 4’s, and 11’s. I’ve pals in sneaker shops who name me every time an unique drops. 

BET: Lastly, through the newest episode of Queen Sugar, you and Tina Lifford did a PSA for the vaccine. Why was it vital so that you can highlight the significance of everybody getting vaccinated?

OJD: I wish to do something I can to ease my individuals. A few of us have a number of distrust in regards to the vaccine due to how Black of us have been handled traditionally by well being professionals. I needed to do it with my dad and mom. I instructed them, “I am going to go down there with you and get it too.” We went to get it collectively as a result of I do not need us to be one of many ones left behind. From all of the analysis that I’ve accomplished on it, speaking to medical professionals, speaking to my physician, you realize, there’s nothing to concern. I assumed it was a trigger that I ought to stand for.


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