(Photo courtesy of Derek Luke)
Independent Spirit Award-winner Derek Luke (for his role as Antwone Fisher) has joined the cast of TNT’s “HawthoRNe,” the powerful medical drama starring and executive-produced by Jada Pinkett Smith. In a multi-episode arc that began with the June 14 season premiere, Luke is playing the role of Dr. Miles Bourdet, a young surgeon who arrives at James River Hospital to become the protégé of Dr. Tom Wakefield (Michael Vartan).
Currently in the midst of a divorce, Bourdet will attract the attention of Camille Hawthorne (Hannah Hodson), daughter of Jada’s character Christina Hawthorne.
In addition to the title role in Antwone Fisher, Luke’s feature film credits include “Friday Night Lights,” “Miracle at St. Anna” and “Notorious.” Here, he talks about “HawthoRNe” as well as his new movie, “Captain America: The First Avenger.”
Hey Derek, thanks for another interview.
No doubt! Same here, Kam.
How you been?
Things are great! I been blessed, bro.
So, what interested you in joining the cast of “HawthoRNe?”
First, a project has to speak to my heart. When I got the call to do “HawthoRNe” with Jada, I appreciated the fact that they were very open to collaboration and building my character. That was a signal to me loud and clear, as a person who cares about what type of message the show was going to deliver, that this was going to be a great opportunity.
How would you describe your character, Dr. Miles Bourdet?
As a man juggling a number of different responsibilities. He’s a husband, a father and a professional. And what he’s discovering is that it’s necessary for him to manage and balance all three roles.
How are people reacting to seeing you on a TV series instead of in a movie?
Word on the street is that people are really excited and, secondly, I’m learning how many people already love “HawthoRNe.”
Currently, you’re appearing in “Captain America,” a summer blockbuster, and you have this new ongoing role on the TV series. Which type of work do you prefer?
[Laughs] Which do I prefer? I started in movies, and that has given me a license to go into TV. If I have to pick one, I’d have to say movies, since that was my first love.
How did you decide to play Gabe Jones in “Captain America?”
In this case, we didn’t get to see the scripts until well after we’d signed on. But I knew that Gabe Jones was created by the legendary Stan Lee. And that Gabe happens to be one of the few African American characters in the comic world, period.
In the very first Marvel Comics issue he appeared in he was white, because the printer assumed that the illustrator had made a mistake and changed his color.
What profession would be your second choice after acting, and why?
Wow! What a great question! It’s funny, because my acting career started with a question to God: What were you thinking when you made me? So, I would like to think my second career would be whatever His plan was.
What does the role of Dr. Miles Bourdet mean to you?
It means that there’s an opening for spirituality on television. What I love is that he gets to play a healer beyond basic medicine. He’s actually interested in changing people’s lives. Secondly, he’s a man of color with morals and integrity. I’m very proud of that.
What is your greatest source of inspiration? How important is spirituality to you and where do you find spiritual nourishment?
The Bible. There’s a verse in the Bible that says, “What makes a man spiritual is ‘The Word.’ ” And I read a dose of The Word every day.
Do you have a favorite quote which resonates with you that you’d like to share?
Yes: “Art without heart is cold and aimless.”
Who was your mentor and how important do you think it is to have a mentor?
One of my first mentors was a Bahamian pastor by the name of Myles Munroe. I was given his book at a time that I was starving spiritually. Mentors are very important because they serve as the voices that help guide us on our journey.
What key quality do you believe all successful people share?
Now that’s an excellent question. All successful people share a determination and a will to refuse limitation.
What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome on the road to success?
Believing that God had a plan for me bigger than my abilities.
What business advice do you have for aspiring actors?
The first thing I’d tell an actor is to find out what you were destined to do in show business and make it a need that only you can brand.
If you had five minutes of your life to live over again, which ones would it be?
[Pauses to think] Gee, I may have to come back to that one.
What is your favorite dish to cook?
I like baking pastries, especially sweet potato pie.
When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
I see grace and mercy.
If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
Hmm … that everyone in the world be impregnated with a dream.
Uduak Oduok’s question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
It starts with a hunger to change.
How do you get through the tough times?
How do you want to be remembered?
As a man who fulfilled all his potential.
Thanks again for the time, Derek, and best of luck with both “HawthoRNe” and “Captain America.”
Hey Kam, thank you.
"Miracle at St. Anna," released on DVD on Tuesday, is not only director Spike Lee's first attempt at directing a war movie - it's also the first time that a film about the black soldier's experience during World War II has ever appeared on the big screen. More »
Jada Pinkett Smith stars as Christina Hawthorne in TNT's medical drama "HawthoRNe." In the role of chief nursing officer at James River Hospital, Christina is forced to juggle the roles and subsequent relationships that are demanded of her as a professional, mother, friend and love interest. More »
Besides playing the title character on the TNT series HawthoRNe, which is starting its second season, Jada Pinkett Smith executive-produces the show through her production company, 100% Womon. With her husband, Will Smith, she is serving as producer of "The Karate Kid," starring their son, Jaden, and also of Fela!, the Broadway musical nominated for 11 Tony Awards. More »