The Wire Week: Jamie Hector (Marlo Stansfield)

When first interviewed Jamie Hector in the Spring of 2005, he was beginning to make his mark as drug lord Marlo Stansfield on The Wire. Like his quiet, watchful character, Jamie is a man of few words – but when he does speak, people listen. While Jamie is definitely as ambitious as Marlo, the young actor’s intentions and motivation are anything but evil. He is preparing for new film roles, and is the leading man in R&B singer Monica’s latest video. We also talked with him and his manager Ally Roberson about Jamie’s budding career, and most importantly, his gracious work teaching children the art and business of acting. How do you feel about how Marlo developed into really being a big boss? Jamie Hector: As you see Tristan [Wilds] evolve as Michael, that’s the same way Marlo evolved. I think Marlo always saw himself as a boss and nothing less. He was always that confident to understand that this is the position that he was gonna hold. Like most of the youngins that you’ll find in the hood, they walk around like they got ‘S’ on their chest and nothing less, which I don’t knock either. They know they’re popping, they know they’re the man, they know they cant be hurt or injured. The only difference between them and Marlo, is Marlo is aware of the fact that he can be hurt or injured, so before he makes a move he talks about it to the right people. Every step is calculated. The thing about Marlo is, the minute he decides to change his style up, he’ll change it up. Some people get out the game, then they get back in the game because this is all they know. If [Marlo] chose to change his profession or the way he lived, he would change it. He’s not the person that would come back to the scene of the crime – they always say you commit a murder and come back to that scene. No, he’s not coming back. If he’s going to Africa, he’s gone for good. That’s the interesting thing about him. With a character like Marlo, there’s only two sides to the coin, you’re either in it or you’re not. He’s not gonna ride that line. That’s why he told the security guard, “You want it one way, but it’s the other way.” Marlo was kind of a lone wolf in a lot ways, he ran on his own and didn’t really have trust for a lot of people. What was going through Marlo’s mind having to really come to grips with [working] with the Co-Op ? Jamie Hector: What was going through his mind was that he didn’t really wanna do it. What was going through my mind was that I didn’t trust anyone except for my partner Chris, he’s like my brother. Any one of them slipped and they would have to get dealt with, so what was going through my mind was to keep the eagle eye over everybody. It seems the way that Marlo reacted to most situations was with a gut reaction, obviously with the Co-Op you couldn’t do those kinds of things as quickly. How do you think it is for Marlo to have to deal with taking things step by step instead of just doing what comes naturally to him? Jamie: The thing I like about Marlo is he always went and got wise counsel. He always went to someone that was older than him and that walked the walk before him and got counsel from that person, then went and applied it and decided what he was gonna do. He actually really didn’t start respecting Prop Joe, but he understood his position – and Prop Joe showed and proved that he had something that Marlo couldn’t get at that time, which was valid information. When he proved that he could get the information then it was like, “Okay, I’m willing to work with you, but until then you gotta show me something that’s difficult for me to get. If I can’t get it then you’re making yourself useful by being able to give it to me.” At the end of this season the police were getting a lot closer to Marlo, but they still haven’t been able to pin it down 100%. Do you think that going into Season Five that Marlo is going to have to watch his back a lot more, or do you just think he’s gonna get even smarter and keep it moving? Jamie: I know he’s gonna have to watch his back a lot more, and I think he is gonna get smarter. I think he is real smart, that’s the reason why he’s been able to last so long. The things that he decides to do are different from what the average cat will do. No shining, drinking or smoking, and most gangsters, this is what they do. They get money to floss and spend on shorties, get drunk, smoke it out, gamble or just show and prove that you have it. Marlo chooses not to do that. If Marlo had gone to college, what do you think he would have been if he didn’t have to choose crime as a lifestyle? Jamie: If Marlo went to college, he would definitely be in business. He would probably not be in politics because there’s too much red tape, but he’d probably bully the game like Donald Trump, Don King, or even Bill Gates. As Bill Gates did, somebody came up with the formula, he took it and perfected it and jetted with it. He monopolized the game, for you to work you have to come through Bill Gates for almost everything. Given that opportunity I think Marlo would have definitely took it the distance like that. As an actor how does [the success of The Wire] play into the roles that you’re going choose? What are your goals? Jamie: Definitely to stretch. Given the opportunity to stretch, you always take it as an actor and just have fun with parts. It could be a gangster part, as long as it’s a part that I can have fun with and enjoy. Something meaty, but if it’s one-dimensional I’m not gonna rock with it. I’m always attracted to the life of a cat that starts from nothing and makes something great or becomes something. You see the development of the dude’s life, whether he’s a gangster and then he turns into a Bill Gates, or he deals with redemption or just a everyday guy going through his hardships in life and overcomes, I’m down for it. If the script is tough you could see me doing it, I could be down to a crackhead [or a] dope fiend, as long as it gives me the ability to stretch. We saw you as the sexy leading man in Monica’s video [“A Dozen Roses (You Remind Me)”]. How did that come about? Jamie: Management extraordinaire, Ally Roberson. It’s funny, because I always dug Monica’s style and the opportunity came. [Director] Chris Robinson was supposed to work on [The Wire]. They had to figure out who they were gonna use for the part with Monica’s love interest – my name came up and it was just like, “Yo, shout him out.” Nine times out of ten I always want to read the treatment – [this time] I didn’t even bother reading the treatment. I was like, “I know what this is about.” Most shorties nowadays make a song, and it’s definitely throwing shots at a Black man. It looks like she genuinely likes you in the video – you guys had a nice little chemistry Jamie: Monica genuinely has love for everyone, it’s gonna come across like that [because] that’s a sincere girl. What are your plans for the next few months? Jamie: I’m sitting on these scripts, a couple of projects I’m looking at. I don’t really like to talk about the projects too much, I like to do them and let them come out. I can tell you this much though, a couple of people that I’ll be working with soon is Jay-Z and James Caviezel. Look out for that soon, I’ll be working with them in a minute. You can check out Blackout, a film I did with Jeffrey Wright. It’s about the black out that took place [in 2003] in the United States, it hit part of Canada also. It’s just how we dealt with it in Brooklyn, the ups and downs and the lives of the little people, and how we had to deal with what took place. A couple, [Zoe Saldana and her mate] it shows how they dealt with it, Jeffrey Wright, myself, Michael B. Jordan and director Jerry Lamothe. It’s basically shot as a day in the life of Flatbush, Brooklyn during the blackout. Prodigy is also in it. I know a mission of yours has been speaking with kids about various things. What are some experiences that you’ve had where a child told you that you’ve affected their life in some way? Ally Roberson (Jamie’s manager): He has his own organization for kids, GBU [Give Back University] where he finds kids in the community, basically in Brooklyn, but they come from all over now. He used to teach them drama, so now he has his own organization where they put on different productions and just learn the arts. The kids basically spread word of mouth, and the hardcore not-trying-to-hear-nothing-from-nobody [kids] come through looking for Marlo, because they wanna learn if they can do this too. It’s a beautiful thing if you do pay attention to what’s going on in the community and how it is affecting kids. What’s portrayed on in [The Wire] is happening in every city and it’s real. Then you have somebody who is single-handedly making a difference in individual lives, it’s almost like one kid at a time. You kinda just reach out to them and let them know, “Look you can do other things, you can do this” and the kids begin to take themselves seriously. There’s so many of them and it is funny, they go on and then they bring other kids back. You see these straight up hood looking kids sitting there talking about, “Yeah so I think I need to go get some new headsets, my resume needs to be updated. I got an audition…” At first they make jokes about it, but after they’re there a few weeks [they say] “So am I gonna go check out that agent? Jamie what’s up?” He hooks them up with different filmmakers, because he’s done a lot of work with different filmmakers from NYU and Columbia and they just know him. So when they’re looking for talent for student films and things like that, that’s how these kids end up getting their experience. You have one of these kids that went on and became the lead in The Lion King. They’ve all been to [Diddy’s] studio and recorded, they’ve all been performing for Russell Simmons, and it’s like a quiet movement, because [Jamie] doesn’t talk about the stuff, he just does it and the kids get used to moving with it. It’s kind of a beautiful thing to see. What was your favorite movie of ’06? Jamie: I don’t think I had a favorite one that I liked, it’s a whole bunch that I enjoyed like Apocalypto, Akeelah and The Bee was a very good film to me, I really enjoyed that project right there. I really enjoyed this one film called Half Nelson, it was a indie film. ATL was smooth, I liked that. Are you making a rap album? That seems to be the running theme right now. Jamie: Nah, I’m a leave it to the dudes that know how to do it. I used to get busy myself, some people try to do it for a buck but I love the art. I used to write and I had one foot in that and one foot in this. There’s some people that do it marvelously, I respect the people that understand what they can do and do what they do the best. I’ll leave it up to them, I just love to listen to it and support. I’ll go buy the albums. Right now I’m down to create films and tell some stories.

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