Morocco Omari: It broke my heart explaining to my daughter the domestic battery charge
American actor, producer, screen writer and director, Morocco Omari who has been featured in shows such as Homeland, Chicago Fire, NCIS and more recently Empire was recently in Kenya.
Nairobi News caught up with the renowned actor, who has been in the industry for more than two decades. Among the things he spoke about was how heartbreaking it was for him to tell his eight year old daughter that he was arrested on a domestic battery charge was. Excerpts…
1. How many times have you visited Kenya? My first trip to Kenya was in 2006 on holiday in Mombasa. This is my second stint in Nairobi, having been here last year too. What I can say about Kenya is that the people are still beautiful and warm. Coming to the continent is always refreshing and feeds my spirits. Every country I go to helps me learn something culturally different that I walk with back in America.
2. How was it growing up in Chicago and why do you say you were one of the lucky ones? – I grew up in the West side of Chicago and it was rough. There were gangs, drug dealers, drug addicts, pimps, prostitutes and of course blue collar workers and some homeowners. It was just survival. We did not have the opportunities and, as children growing up, we didn’t know what was bad. So I got in my share of fights, watched men shoot up heroine or overdose on heroine as a young child — things I shouldn’t have seen early on in life.
3. What did you learn from the Marine Corp and what did they install in you? – In the Marine Corp we have a never say die attitude. It instilled a lot of discipline in me; I went in as a teenage boy and came out as a man. You have to adapt and overcome a lot of things. Fighting a war, I didn’t need that. But the discipline part of it and believing in yourself and getting more confident helped a lot, and I apply that to life and my craft and trade. I never wanted to shoot a gun again. I went through all the training and took all the tests because I wanted to make money. Afterwards, I went back to school and majored in Business and had one acting class. I always looked forward to this acting class. In acting, I had to be creative. So, I took more classes outside the university and I got cast in my first play.
4. What have you learned and shared with others? – I have learnt that there is no shortcut to success. A lot of people wake up and say they want to be actors but they don’t understand what it takes to be an actor. Hard work pays off. I had to learn this craft, I had to grind; take the shape of water. You have to be careful what you ask for. We all have a different definitions of success. If people want to get in here and be famous, that is a lot of responsibility; you’ll have no more anonymity and you’ll be held under a microscope.
5. How difficult was it for you after you were arrested for domestic violence and charged? – As a father of two girls, the beautiful thing is my family and friends, people knew me, knew that the accusations (of domestic battery) were BS. We shielded the younger one, who was eight at the time, as much as we could. People on social media and tabloids didn’t understand. My accuser wanted money but I said I’m going to fight it. My youngest child is proud of me and she wanted to do an article about me in school. She went online, typed my name, and that is what came up. She burst out in tears and when she came home, she asked me if I had beaten mummy. I had to sit her down and have a conversation with this beautiful bundle of love who was looking at me suspiciously. I gave her my word that I will clear our name. We went to trial and the jury came back with a not-guilty verdict.
6. Tell us about ’17 Bridges’ and how was it working with Chadwick Boseman? – 17 Bridges will be out in July. It was great working with Chadwick Boseman on what will be his first main role movie after Black Panther. I’m sure this cop movie will be a big blockbuster.
7. You were big in ‘Empire’; how was your experience? – I had been a fan of Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson for years, and when I got cast as Tariq Cousins it was a big role for me. When you work with them, you have to be ready because those two can throw anything at you; they are masters of the craft. Come ready to improve or you will be chewed up.