As fans anticipate the second episode of Power Book II: Ghost’s second season, stars Michael Rainey, Jr., Gianni Paolo, and Alix Lapri are opening up about taking the base of the original Power series and expanding it to follow Tariq St. Patrick’s personal journey.

Episode one found Rainey’s character Tariq dealing with the evidential (and mental) fallout of murdering his Canonical Studies professor Jabari Reynolds in the Season 1 finale. As he attempts to cover up his deeds, he joins his roommate, best friend, and collaborator Brayden Weston (Paolo) on a family hunting trip, but finds himself unable to unwind as the police investigation gets underway.

Rainey says he’s appreciative of the fan response, with over half a million viewers tuning in last Sunday to be the first to watch the continuation of Tariq’s story. 

“It really feels great to have people tuning in and really taking us seriously,” Rainey says of Ghost’s continuing success. “At first I was nervous. It was a lot of pressure on me.” 

Part of that pressure surely comes from the fan response to his character Tariq on the original iteration of Power. Through Tweets, memes, and fan chatter, it was clear that the eldest son of the St. Patrick family was far from a fan favorite. But upon the first season of Ghost’s airing, the tides began to turn for the perception of Tariq. Now, thanks to Rainey’s acting skills, viewers are rooting for the once-maligned character. 

“Being a part of this is dope, but especially having a chance to get the fans to do a 180 and be on Tariq’s side a little bit is really dope,” he said. “Shout out to the writing team. They did their thing.” 

While he admits to having nerves surrounding taking the driver’s seat in his iteration of the Power Universe, Rainey says being surrounded by his familiar on-set team erased his trepidation.

“It really feels great to have people tuning in and really taking us seriously,” Rainey says of Ghost’s continuing success. “At first I was nervous. It was a lot of pressure on me.” 

Part of that pressure surely comes from the fan response to his character Tariq on the original iteration of Power. Through Tweets, memes, and fan chatter, it was clear that the eldest son of the St. Patrick family was far from a fan favorite. But upon the first season of Ghost’s airing, the tides began to turn for the perception of Tariq. Now, thanks to Rainey’s acting skills, viewers are rooting for the once-maligned character. 

“Being a part of this is dope, but especially having a chance to get the fans to do a 180 and be on Tariq’s side a little bit is really dope,” he said. “Shout out to the writing team. They did their thing.” 

While he admits to having nerves surrounding taking the driver’s seat in his iteration of the Power Universe, Rainey says being surrounded by his familiar on-set team erased his trepidation.

“Once I got into it and it got closer to the first day of filming, I saw a lot of the old faces from the original crew,” he recalls. “Just seeing the old family members and familiar faces and having such an amazing cast like this – everyone just meshed so well together so fast – it just made everything so much easier and so fun to work on.” 

That fun of filming is extrapolated by the fact that Rainey is now among a much younger group of co-stars on his college campus set. With Paolo and Lapri, as well as co-stars Paige Hurd, LaToya Tonodeo, Lightskin Keisha, and Daniel Bellomy to name, he has gone from being the child star on the show to being the main character, surrounded by his peers.

“Mike, I think you worked with one person your age for five years,” Paolo jokingly pointed out. 

“I think it’s a lot of fun to see us kind of carve our own way as well. We’re turning into our own thing as well. It’s not just ‘oh, there’s all these similarities!’ There are, but we’re making it our own, and I love the way it’s going.” 

“It’s surreal for me,” Lapri chimed in. She portrays Effie Morales, one of Tariq’s many potential love interests and co-conspirator in his and Brayden’s on-campus drug dealing. “I’m literally living a dream every day. It’s so much fun to be a part of something so huge.”

Being a part of a cultural phenomenon featuring so many acting and industry veterans, the young stars are taking the golden opportunity to learn as much as they can from their predecessors while filming. 

“It’s always good to have the veteran presence on set because, beyond the roles and the show, we talk about a lot of different things as far as life goes and being in the entertainment business as a whole,” Rainey shared. “We always get a lot of good knowledge from them and it’s a blessing to be around them. Especially Larenz (Tate), that’s my guy right there.” 

“And Method Man too!” Paolo said. “Obviously everyone knows him as this musical icon, but he’s been in so much TV, so many films, movies I love, independent films. So, I pick his brain every time I see him.”

“He’s the most humble dude ever, such a normal guy,” he added. “So I really do love him, I’m with Meth. He’s the man. But I’m bigger than him,” he adds jokingly, flexing his muscles.

Power Book II: Ghost airs Sundays on Starz.

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