Dayo Okeniyi: “Shades of Blue’ is about the characters and the decisions they make”

“Shades of Blue” airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC

Dayo Okeniyi in Shades of BlueWhen Dayo Okeniyi first read the script for “Shades of Blue,” he immediately knew it was a project he wanted to be part of.

“It was just that good. Characters like that, especially for a young black actor, are few and far between,” shares Okeniyi, who plays Michael Loman, a rookie detective on the NBC drama.

Certainly one of the best new dramas of the year, “Shades of Blue” which airs Thursday nights, is a Brooklyn based police drama about a bunch of corrupt detectives.

“It’s not really a procedural type of show and there is no new crime that has to be solved every week. You are following a core group of characters over the course of the season,” adds Okeniyi, who as part of his audition, had to perform a screen chemistry test with the show’s star and executive producer Jennifer Lopez.

“It was very much like art imitating life,” he jokes. “She’s a judge on ‘American Idol’ so I felt as though I was auditioning to go to Hollywood for a spot on ‘American Idol” when I went in there.”

Ms. Lopez leads the cast as Det. Harlee Santos, a single mother forced to turn informant after the FBI catches her in an illegal act and pits her against her own unit.  In a quest to avoid arrest, she engages in a perilous dance with her FBI handler (Warren Kole) and her unit patriarch, (played by a bullish Ray Liotta) who is on a rampant hunt for the informant within his unit.

“What I love the most about ‘Shades,” continues the actor who plays Lopez’s partner, “is that it’s really about the characters and the decisions that they make. When you take a character and you put them in a 50/50 position where they have to make a decision, that will always make for great television. That’s why our show is so good.”

Audiences have certainly responded well to the fast paced drama, which premiered in January to Okeniyi’s character being forced by Harlee (Lopez) to cover up a wrongful shooting. Wracked with guilt and straddling the moral compass of right and wrong, it’s a decision he struggles with throughout the season.

Jennifer Lopez and Dayo Okeniyi in “Shades of Blue,” a new police show beginning Thursday on NBC. Credit NBC

“He is in a place where he is trying to right the wrong and in term of the decisions that he makes I support him 100%. I love the fact that he tries to pick up the pieces. When I make mistakes, I tend to evaluate the mistakes and move on. Loman licks his wounds a little too long and I am just not built that way,” adds the 27-year old Nigerian actor who played alongside Jennifer Lawrence in the wildly popular “The Hunger Games” film and “Terminator: Genisys.”

With supporting roles in “Endless Love,” opposite Alex Pettyfer; the Sundance Film Festival hit “The Spectacular Now,” “Runner Runner,” opposite Ben Affleck and the SXSW indie “Cavemen,” “Shades of Blue” marks Okeniyi’s first network television series.

The cast of Shades of Blue

“I wasn’t necessary looking to do television, but this is a great script. We have great writers, a great cast and great people behind the scenes. It’s a great formula for good television which I am so proud to be part of.”

“Shades of Blue” airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC 

Samantha Ofole-Prince is a journalist and movie critic who covers industry-specific news that includes television and film. She can be reached at samantha.ofole@caribpress.com

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