In our Q&A series Last Call, we get down to the bottom of every last thing with some of our favorite celebs — from the last time they were starstruck to the last song they listened to. This week, «Power Book II: Ghost» star Woody McClain takes our call.
Woody McClain knows how to be at the right place at the right time. From life-changing encounters with Kevin Hart to a breakout biopic role that helped put him on the map, the actor, dancer, and creator has earned opportunities some can only dream of. McClain acknowledges to POPSUGAR that his career so far has been an absolutely «crazy journey» — «a lightning-in-a-bottle situation.»
McClain was just finding his stride in the entertainment industry back in 2017. After moving to Los Angeles roughly two years prior for his stint as a background dancer, he became popular for posting comedy skits on social media, which included viral clips reenacting Hart’s standup routines. They went so viral, in fact, that he landed a collaboration with the comedian’s Laugh Out Loud Network. But 33-year-old McClain’s actual big break came through portraying R&B icon Bobby Brown in BET’s «The New Edition Story.» «That started everything. Without that, I probably would still be dancing right now,» he shares, referring to his early days backing up stars like Chris Brown and Ginuwine.
«He was like, ‘Don’t shy away from that — embrace it. Until you embrace it, then you won’t be able to move on.'»
At first, McClain’s recognition was so tied to his portrayal of Brown. Luckily, some words of wisdom from a famous friend helped him embrace that aspect of being an impactful actor.
«I remember being at Jamie Foxx’s house, and I was just in the corner. Everybody kept saying, ‘Bobby. Bobby.’ I hear that a million and trillion times. But I remember Jamie coming over to me,» McClain recalls. «He was like, ‘I noticed every time somebody says that, you kind of dim your light. You can’t do that. You got to understand, my first role I played Wanda in ‘In Living Color.’ So people are at the club, and they’re like, ‘Hey, yo, you that B. You that B, right?’ . . . You got to understand that you played one of the coolest cats that’s ever done it in the R&B game. You played one of the coolest bad boys ever.'»
McClain continues, «He was like, ‘Don’t shy away from that — embrace it. Until you embrace it, then you won’t be able to move on . . . You’re going to get more things. More things are going to come. You’re going to be amazing.'»
Since then, McClain says he’s been able to accept that part of his journey, just like Foxx instructed. «Jamie’s such a great guy, man. Prayers to Jamie, too,» he adds after Foxx’s recent hospitalization.
«Somebody like me that’s come from doing my own content online, I have to step into being a producer and produce some content that I want to see, because that’s where I come from.»
Foxx’s advice to McClain seemingly worked, because the latter’s latest onscreen victory is the complete opposite of his first major acting role. Currently, he stars as the ruthless Cane Tejada on Starz’s «Power Book II: Ghost» alongside icons like Mary J. Blige and Method Man. According to McClain — who took a year off from acting after appearing as Brown, once again, in 2018’s «The Bobby Brown Story» — he spoke his series-regular role into existence after praying with a neighbor of his, director Erica Watson (who’s also directed episodes of «Power Book II»).
«She sits me down and puts all these crystals on me, and she says, ‘All right, speak whatever you want into the universe,'» McClain recounts. «So I’m like, ‘I really want to be on a show. I really want to be in New York’ . . . Two days later, I get a phone call from Starz saying that I got the role for ‘Power,’ and it was a surreal experience. I give that all to my neighbor. She really brought the universe to that situation.»
Thanks to that chance opportunity, McClain has cemented his place in the Power Universe along with his tight-knit cast, who he says all have a «strong bond.» In between his three seasons on the hit show, McClain was also tapped for a minor role on Netflix’s «The Harder They Fall.» But being up on the big and small screens isn’t all he has on his career bucket list. Next, he says, he wants to get into producing.
«I have to produce my own films,» McClain reveals. «Somebody like me that’s come from doing my own content online, I have to step into being a producer and produce some content that I want to see, because that’s where I come from. The Eddie Murphys, the Adam Sandlers, those guys created things for their generation. That’s why they were so amazing at that time. So now I feel like I’m in a position where I’ve grown as an artist, I’ve grown as a student, and I know I’m ready to start producing films and hiring my friends. That’s the goal right now.»
Read ahead to learn more from McClain’s Last Call interview, including which celebrity once left him speechless.
What’s the last thing you did with your «Power Book II: Ghost» costars off set?
We did dinner with Njera Perkins Courtney [A. Kemp]. She came in town, and we all did dinner with her. That was amazing. Even before the dinner, we went to the New Edition concert. Yeah, we be outside.
Who is the last «Power Book II: Ghost» costar you texted?
My [TV] pops, Berto [Colon]. Called me right before we got on the call.
When was the last time you were starstruck?
I remember this was when I was a dancer. I was at Pharrell [Williams]’s birthday party, and I was at the bar trying to get an orange juice. I was waiting on my juice, and then somebody walks next to me, and I look over, it’s Rihanna. I was going to be like, «I love your work,» but nothing was coming out. So I was just staring and she was like, «Who is this guy?» And then she walked away. I was like, «Dang.» That was starstruck.
What’s the last album you listened to?
I always have Bryson Tiller’s old album «Trapsoul» on repeat. Can you please drop new music? Can we blast this out? We need another album.
What was the last TV show you binge-watched?
What was the last trip you went on?
Snowboarding in Aspen. That was my first time. I only fell 15 times, but I was a beast.
What’s the last thing you did for self-care?
What are those things called when you sit in a chair and they do your feet?
Yes, pedicure. I always get the two confused.
What was the last gift you received?
A hat with, like, a fox on it. My little sister got me this. It’s called The Farm. But my dog bit my hat up. This hat is ruined. Sister, I’m so sorry. But yes, it’s a cool hat.
What is the last piece of advice you received that changed your life?
I remember being at Sundance and Kenya Barris, I asked him for advice on how to improve on everything that I’m doing. He said, «Read.» And he just walked away, and I was looking at him like, «That’s not no mic drop. Come back here.» That’s what I was thinking. But as I started picking up books and reading, it’s so much good information in these books. I’ve been learning so much about acting, my personal healing, about financing. Everything I want to learn, it’s been in a book. And that’s been one of the best [pieces of] advice I’ve received.