Forget “Downton Abby” and “Scandal.” My favorites for scripted television are “Being Mary Jane” and “The Haves and the Have Nots.” All I can say is go ahead with your bad self Tyler Perry and Mara Brock Akil. Now I can’t wait for Tuesday night.

Today I thought I would feature one of the stars of “Being Mary Jane,” Omari Latif Hardwick. Remember him ladies from the scene at the gym and remember his great performance in “A Christmas Blessing?”

Born “Omari Latif Hardwick,” he grew up in Decatur, Ga. Hardwick’s parents gave him a name to set a precedent, “Omari” meaning “most high,” and “Latif” meaning “gentle.” He shares, “I in no way believe that I am the highest or most high, but I feel like my name gives me something to strive for.”

Growing up, sports were Hardwick’s world, but early on he knew he had a passion for the arts.

By the age of 14, Hardwick was writing poetry on a regular basis, a passion he would carry with him into adulthood. In high school, he excelled at basketball, baseball and football, and went on to play football at the University of Georgia. Although a star on the field, Hardwick never gave up his passion for acting, and minored in theatre in college.

He shares, “I hugely attribute sports to my success in entertainment business. Being on the field taught me dedication and discipline—I already came from a strict household when I was growing up, sports just took that to another level.

Omari Latif Hardwick

Omari Latif Hardwick (Courtesy Photo)

After graduation, Hardwick relocated to San Diego for a spot on the NFL’s San Diego Chargers, however a knee injury cut his football career short. He decided to revisit his original passion for acting, and moved to New York to study his craft more extensively.

In New York, Hardwick studied off Broadway until 2000, when he made the move to Los Angeles. As a struggling actor, he worked odd jobs to pay for acting classes, however the security gigs and substitute teaching at times were not enough to make ends meet, and at one point he lived out of his car.

Hardwick’s first big break came in 2003, when he was cast in his first major role as a series regular in Spike Lee’s “Sucker Free City.” Two years later, he landed the feature “The Guardian” and TNT’s “Saved”—both of which he booked within a three-week span in 2005. He notes, “I felt like I had arrived when I went back to one of my odd jobs that had let me go several years prior, and I looked out over Sunset Boulevard right next to the Chateau Marmont, and saw myself plastered on a billboard overlooking the city. I had to break down a little at that point, it was a big moment for me.”

Throughout 2007-2009 Hardwick guest stared on several television series, and filmed several movies including Summit Entertainment’s “Next Day Air” and Touchstone Picture’s “Miracle at St. Anna.” In 2008 he landed the role of Ty Curtis on the TNT series “Dark Blue.” He is one to watch.

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