LaRoyce Hawkins: “I used to always audition for gang bangers and dope dealers.”

Hawkins plays a cop on the NBC drama “Chicago P.D.”

Chicago P.D. - Season 3

He plays a well-respected ambitious cop in the Dick Wolf produced drama “Chicago P.D.,” but early on in his career, LaRoyce Hawkins says he only sought out villainous roles.

“It was one kind of world that I used to audition for and I would feel good about working, so I really appreciate the challenge of Officer Kevin Atwater,” shares the 27 year-old actor, standup comic and musician. “He’s someone who has aspirations to be a Captain soon and really be something of a powerful black figure in Chicago. For someone like me, who is from the hood, to be in that position on a television show with diversity is a blessing.”

Chicago P.D.

Hawkins, is an Illinois native who got his first role playing Art Baker in the major motion picture “The Express,” a film which chronicled the life of Ernie Davis – the first African American to win college football’s coveted Heisman Award. Since then, he’s appeared on several television series such as MTV’s “Underemployed,” ABC’s drama, “Detroit 187,” and the TBS comedy, “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” prior to landing a major role on “Chicago P.D.”LaRoyce Hawkins stars as Officer Kevin Atwater

“It’s dope to have this kind of opportunity,” continues Hawkins, who we caught up with at the Cinespace Film Studio in Chicago. “Growing up in Harvey, Illinois, the cops weren’t anyone you really trusted or respected as much and you actually respected the gang bangers and dope dealers first. I grew up with that kind of mentality and it wasn’t till I got this role I was able to empathize with police officers. I can go into schools and talk to communities that don’t like cops that well and tell them there is a good side of everything. It helps me be able to start conversations about how we can bridge that gap between both sides.”

The gritty drama, which is broadcast Wednesday nights on NBC and is part of the Chicago series produced by Dick Wolf (“Law & Order” brand) is a riveting police drama about the men and women of the Chicago Police Department’s elite Intelligence Unit.

“This is one of the first shows that really shows Chicago. A lot of shows say they shoot in Chicago, but they don’t really give the camera an opportunity to see the city,” continues Hawkins. “What makes ‘Chicago P.D.’ so different from any other show from Chicago is that we really actually get to see the camera and how much it actually loves this city.”

“Chicago P.D.” airs Wednesdays 10/9c on NBC

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