On June 7, 2014, the Starz landscape changed forever when Courtney Kemp introduced fans to the world of James “Ghost” St. Patrick and the duality of a family man and coldblooded drug dealer determined to succeed to the top. Through this show and its complicated interconnected web of friends, family, and enemies, it slowly morphed into a universe of shows fans lovingly call the “MCU of drug dealing.”
Since then, the Power Universe has expanded to include a Tariq-centered show in Power Ghost: Book II, a Kanan Stark show with Power Book III: Raising Kanan and a Tommy Eagan centered show called Power Book IV: Force; making the “Power Never Dies” tagline more impactful than ever.
February 2022 saw the premiere of Force as Tommy Egan (Joseph Sikora), one of the most standout characters and cocaine dealers from the Power Universe. When it debuted, Force set an all-time viewership record for Starz, tallying 3.3 million cross-platform viewers for its premiere.
The Koalition spoke to Force star Joesph Sokira about the evolution of Tommy Egan, taking Chicago by storm, the creation of the show and more.
“[Curtis ‘Fifty Cent’ Jackson] told me really early on about [me having a great] opportunity here but [to] also to stay in your lane. And by ‘stay in your lane’, it wasn’t scolding or an admonishing. It was saying, ‘hey man, you’re here as an actor. I believe in you as an actor.’ And he, as a boss, is a dream boss in the way that he elevates and encourages and doesn’t need to separate himself from you to show that he’s in a position of power. He is just in that position of power, and he encourages you to bring your ‘A Game’ every time.”
“Also, his predictions were incredibly accurate, so you can’t deny it. He said [Power] was going to go seven seasons. We went 6-1/2, technically a seven-year show. He said, ‘Listen, your show’s going to come.’ I was like, ‘Is it going to come? It’s been a year.’ He’s like, ‘Relax, it’s going to come.’ And then, ‘Fif, it’s been two years.’ And he’s like, ‘Relax. It’s still coming.'”
“But this is a dream for me. To play a character for eight years, you get into such the minutiae of character development that it’s a dream for an actor. And also, where we find Tommy at the beginning of Power Book IV: Force is at the end of not only the Power show but also Power Book II: Ghost. So, we saw Tommy in that environment, too, but now we see him with absolutely nothing. So, as an actor, what an incredible opportunity to have this very fully fleshed-out character, a very complex character who now has absolutely nothing. A duffel bag full of money, a couple of guns, a couple of changes of clothes, and then just the shirt on his back and the gumption to survive. I think this survival technique speaks to us so intrinsically as human beings. It’s transcendent we can see and follow with Tommy throughout this show for however many years we go. Let’s say five.”‘
Since his debut in Power, Tommy has captured the hearts of viewers with his swagger and willingness to follow Ghost into battle against their common enemies and with each other. A man of the streets, his intelligence is unmatched, tactical fortitude is built within his bones. Unlike others, his ease of fitting into spaces occupied by all racial people, but particularly Black spaces. His power is to assess environment including everyone’s strengths and weakness, planning their demise while smiling in their face.
In a world where everyone is trying to climb to the top, Tommy’s confidence and hotheadedness have carried him through the streets of New York City, but Chicago runs by a different code and tactic. Tommy may be a recent transplant to Chicago after deciding not to go to California just to work for someone else. This wasn’t a challenge for Sikora since he is a Chicago native raised on the Northwest Side.
“It’s always fun to play the bull when the bull isn’t sorry for knocking over China. He’s very unapologetic in that way, but it is that new environment. And so, if Tommy was in a different part of the Power world, if he was just going to always leap first and think later, he might not make it through the city of Chicago. But because he’s in survival mode, Tommy’s a wolf that gets caught in a trap in Chicago, but he’s going to chew off his arm to survive. That’s just who this character is. I think a lot of [what] Walter sees is a lot of himself as a newcomer to Chicago, at some point a guy accomplished taking over the city.”
Tommy’s past “almost caught up to him in that first episode, because the way his habits allow him to get himself almost [killed]. The cool part about [Force] is the [change in] lifestyle; the fast life on that lane is the danger factor. For most people, when you get involved, they’ll tell you you’re going to be dead or in jail. Those are the outcomes that happen, and when you come into a whole new town and you’re feeling your way around, the things you go through make you who you are. That experience [Tommy is] coming from is creating his temperament as soon as he gets there” and Tommy has to change his ways if he’s to survive.
Using his personal appearance, Tommy’s personality was already infused into Joseph’s marrow. You can hear it in the way he talks, the way he walks and the way how he quietly judges a person. It’s moody but recognizable, as opposed to the flat, visual blandness that audiences have seen before. Tommy is constantly studying the landscape, deep in thought. The city excites him as he is determined to conquer every corner and territory.
“I was a graffiti writer since I was 11-years-old, so there’s a thing in graffiti terminology that’s called “going all city,” and so that’s what you have to do, to have respect in that subculture. I knew the city [of Chicago] really well. I was also an amateur boxer, and I fought ‘Park Districts,’ [which] is what we call it in Chicago. Every neighborhood has its own Park District Boxing gym. I didn’t box at my neighborhood. When I boxed at Northwestern Settlement House on the near northwest side right down the street from Cabrini Green, a lot of the kids lived there. Some of the kids lived in Oakdale Gardens.”
“I went all over the city, and I knew it really well. Also, my dad lived in Auburn Gresham for a while, so we would always go down there for the cookouts. Now I left. I moved to New York when I was 21 years old, so I’ve lived in New York longer than I lived in Chicago, so what I did was, go to Chicago a month early to do ride-alongs with the police, to meet with friends, acquaintances and associates that did many years in prison, who ran gangs and gangsterism to relearn the city of Chicago. As I relearned it, Tommy is learning it for the first time. I thought it was really important for me to know the inner workings of Chicago so I would understand how Tommy would have to put this process together.”
“There’s a great scene in the pilot. I really enjoyed Tommy looking at a map of the city of Chicago. You know how we always look at it, and it’s a long thing that almost mimics the state of Illinois. But to Tommy it doesn’t make any sense to him, so he takes it, and he turns. Now that’s my way, that’s how I learned to see this, and I think that’s a real reflection on Tommy Egan.”
“The only other person from New York City, in real life, we ever saw go to Chicago and take care of business and live by his own rules was Al Capone. So, if we can have a good Brooklyn boy do it, maybe a good Queens boy can do the same thing. However, I think he’s going to continue to have a lot of obstacles through Diamond Sampson, played by Isaac Keys, and Walter Flynn, played by Tommy Flanagan, but then he’s going to also have some of the perks, because that’s part of life. It’s always a yin and a yang. So, he [had] the perk of Gloria Rodgers, played by Gabrielle Ryan and that kept him steady” but she’s not there anymore.
“When I was growing up, even within the White communities, it was so ethnically divided between Pols and Irish and Italians and then also with Little Village and back in the day when Pilsen was still very heavily Latin. The city is more divided — it’s the most divided northern city in the country. I think we tapped on that with very broad strokes in the first season, and hopefully in the subsequent seasons, we’ll be able to get into the finality and the minutia, the political system.”
“Chicago is the first modern American city, everything else was always influenced by European influence, and this city, this structured grid city, was structured in a way to divide in a lot of ways, to capitalize on power and so the people in power could stay in power. I think that dynamic is interesting, and I think we’re responsible in Power Book IV: Force of tapping on that subject and what that subject would mean to somebody like Tommy Egan, because in New York City, any of the five boroughs, there is no such thing as an all-Black neighborhood, and in Chicago, a mile in any direction is all Black. There’s still Latin around there. There are different ethnicities but anybody, any White person who’s going to roll through South Side Jamaica Queens, the word is going to be out before their feet hit the ground coming out of their car. So, in Chicago, that idea is multiplied times 10, 12 of whom is this White guy who’s so comfortable in the Black community, but then also what’s he doing here? Are we all right with it? I think Chicago would be immediately hesitant at this person putting himself in these places.”
While the idea of starting over in Chicago with no ties is a good move for Tommy, he soon learns his past is what he’s running toward as he confronts a labyrinth of family secrets and lies thought were long buried. One step leads to another, and Tommy quickly finds himself in Chicago’s drug game, inserting himself between the city’s two biggest crews and a secret brother longing for a connection.
Though JP appears to be a genuine man with many mistakes made, there is a lot the audience doesn’t know about him. Aside from being a recently divorced jazz musician (we have never seen him play) and club owner (we’ve never seen open) he is estranged from his teenage son Darnell aka D-Mac (Lucien Cambric). Even though Tommy reluctantly introduces him to the drug world so he can escape the stress of debt, and brings together father and son, what could JP be hiding? JP sounds very close to James St. Patrick, which is also an Irish name, and everyone knows the motherly love Kate had for Ghost. Could Kate have even more secrets set to be revealed in the second season?
Tommy and his mother, Kate, have always had an intensive negative relationship, with their bond fully unraveled in Power following Ghost’s death. Since Kate helped raise Ghost, she blamed Tommy for his death. “You are not the son I raised, you can go to hell or California — same thing,” she said to him. Does Kate really care about JP, the son she abandoned when he was just 2 days old? For years, we watched Kate exploit Tommy for money and drugs. If she feels she can do the same thing to JP who simply wants answers from her, it’s hard to believe she won’t. Tommy has repeatedly warned JP not to trust Kate because she is manipulative, but JP is desperate to know the mother he has always longed for.
“I think it’s going to be exciting to find that out. One thing about the past is you can’t control whether or not it comes back on you or not. So being out of control in situations can make you a little unstable and Tommy doesn’t have a support group he had before. He’s this lone ranger out here trying to find his way but there are other rangers in this city. It’s going to be exciting to see all of the journey. Tommy’s very calculated, but I think he’s going to face a lot of obstacles and the past may be one, but the present is going to be one too.”