Courtney Kemp Agboh is quickly popping up on more people’s radars.
The former journalist worked as a writer and producer on a few TV shows, including “The Bernie Mac Show” and CBS’s “The Good Wife,” for which she was nominated for an Emmy. But it’s her work on her TV creation, Starz’s new series “Power,” that’s gaining her this latest round of acclaim.
“The whole process has been a little bit out-of-body. I was in The New York Times this weekend and that’s kind of crazy,” says the 37-year-old married mother.
“Power” follows the life of James “Ghost” St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick), a married father of three who owns a hot nightclub and runs one of New York City’s biggest drug empires. His goal is to use the nightclub to become a legit businessman though his wife Tasha (Naturi Naughton) and childhood pal/ business partner Tommy (Joseph Sikora) aren’t feeling it. Added to this mix is Ghost’s affair with his childhood love Angela (Lela Loren). The show’s executive producer, Curtis Jackson, also known as hip-hop mogul 50 Cent, has helped Agboh with adding the grit, violence and glamour necessary to tell this type of love story. Jackson also stars in the show as Ghost’s imprisoned mentor, Kanan.
"The bottom line is that I think it's part of the American story. I think it's boring to only tell stories about people who get up in the morning and go to work, have a nice boxed lunch and go home at the end of the day. I don't anyone wants to tune in to see that. You know, we want a little bit of spice with our cornflakes," Agboh explains.
Agboh continues the discussion with XFINITY, talking about much, including her favorite scenes so far, her favorite characters and what viewers can expect in the season finale.
“Power’s” season finale airs Saturday at 9 p.m. ET on Starz. Catch up on previous episodes here.
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We talked in May, three weeks before "Power's" debut. How have things changed since then?
Things have been going great. Our ratings have been going good. More and more people are hearing about the show. The response has been overwhelming especially on Twitter. People are tweeting about the show! It's really branching out and people are responding well to it and that's more than I could wish or hope for.
“Power” was renewed for a second season just days after its debut. How did you respond when you first heard the news?
The writers are all together and we're already figuring out the second season. It's the dream of any show runner to do it again. I have to be honest with you, what’s been happening with the show has been a little bit nuts. But all I can say is 'OK, God, thank you for putting this in my path.' How can I accomplish this task to the best of my ability? How can I be of service in the world? What I'm doing is television; it's not saving people's lives, it's not foreign policy. [I ask] how can I give people a good hour of television entertainment that makes them think, that makes them laugh, that makes them cry? I'm hoping that this opportunity to do this leads to more shows and allows us to get deeper into the stories of Angela, Ghost, Tasha and Tommy and more. I'm American and I like more. More, more, more.
You know it's funny, right now I'm really focused on this show. I think "Power" comes from my writers and from me but the characters are all different aspects of myself that I brought together with 50 Cent. So in that sense it's hard for me to conceptualize doing something else right away. In Shonda's case, she's producing several shows on the same network. I think it's harder to do that on premium cable but I don't know, I really can't speak to that. What I can speak to is that that's obviously the dream, that's obviously the ideal but it's a lot of work. I can imagine that it's an incredible amount of work and now I'm giving 100 percent to "Power."
You're married with a 3-year-old daughter. What advice do you have for other working moms who are hoping for some type of work-life balance?
You do the thing in front of you to the best of your ability and you try to give 100 percent to the thing in front of you. It doesn't mean that I do things perfectly but it does mean that it allows me the freedom of knowing that a task is completed when it is completed.
Do you have a favorite character on the show?
No I don’t. I will say this though: I have a very strong affinity for Pink Sneakers. She's a female assassin! I don't have a favorite character but I do enjoy that aspect of the show. An agent of chaos is never a bad thing in television. I like the fact that there's an agent of chaos.
Do you have a favorite scene of the seven episodes that have aired to date?
One of my favorite scenes in the whole series is when Ghost kills Rolla. It’s pretty remarkable and those performances are out of control. That actor, Darrell Britt-Gibson, is un-freaking-real. He is so talented. We're going to see him again and again. I was sad to kill Rolla because Darrell is gifted. With that said, I have to do what's right for the show.
Is there anything that you would do differently or would tweak in the show?
I believe that nothing happens in God's world by mistake. If you take that to the nth degree it means the show unfolded exactly as it was supposed to. I don't live with regrets. Anything that I would have wanted to be different turned out the way it was supposed to because of the way it turned out. That was God's will. I can't get in the ring with that.
Have you received any criticism about the criminal element in the story line?
It really hasn't been any. The thing is if you don't want to watch a show about a gangster, you don't have to. I'm not forcing you to turn the dial. It's a show about a gangster and it's also a show about a family man. It's also a show about a man in crisis. There are a lot of different aspects to the show. I said this before, if we as African Americans are only allowed to put out positive images of ourselves, then it limits our ability to be creative and it limits our ability to tell stories. I don't know why we would do that. I don't know why that is progress for us to have to make "The Cosby Show" every single time. And "The Cosby Show" is amazing; I wouldn't be here without it. And Ghost is a good father. He's cheating on his wife but he's a good dad. He shows up in ways that a lot of people’s fathers never showed up. He’s not a ho; he’s a man who’s fallen in love with a different woman and a woman that he knew first. It’s complicated. Tony Soprano isn’t an entirely positive character. I don’t know that Italians are required to make stories that are just about positive Italians. What is the difference?
In what ways are Ghost’s wife Tasha and his childhood love Angela similar?
Everybody has some sort of type. When I was creating these two women, definitely, there are overlaps. One of these overlaps is that these two women are really smart. Ghost doesn't waste his time with no dumb chick. So you see that Tasha is really smart and on it and capable. She's crisp and together; not a hair is out of place. That's like a mirror image of Ghost. But she's also really smart, like in episode three we really see her doing math. Also-this was something that was highly debated-Tasha's not a trophy wife. Tasha is a helpmate. And she is smart and capable. She's just also immature. The flip side to that is that Angela is brilliant, together and is definitely very accomplished in her own right. And she also is very immature. As her sister pointed out, she has a very childlike view of love. With Ghost, these are women who on some level you have to deal with as an equal and respect. Ghost is disrespecting Tasha certainly by cheating on her but he doesn't ignore her as a human. She's not off on the side, she' a part of his life. Now, she's becoming less a part of his life as he falls deeper in love with Angela.
Why isn’t Tasha considered a trophy wife?
Tasha’s not a trophy wife because I think of trophy wife as a person who doesn’t bring anything else to the table. She's pretty and that's what she does. That's not all that Tasha does. Tasha's an involved mom. It's not like you see a nanny raising those kids. She's encouraging and she loves them and she cooks. What you hear her say over and over again is that she used to be part of the business. She helped him build it from the beginning. She was the CFO until he kind of put her up in the ivory tower. He didn't marry a dumb chick.
What can viewers look forward to in the finale?
They should keep their eyes open for Ghost coming up with a plan to make everything work. There's a lot of fallout. It becomes internal for Ghost in a lot of ways. In Angela's world a lot of different elements from the investigation come together.
Be sure to read our interview with “Power” star Naturi Naughton here.