MeKai Curtis is playing the role of a lifetime as young Kanan Stark on Starz drama Power Book III: Raising Kanan.
The actor portrays a teenage version of Kanan in the origin story of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson’s character from Power.
While the name is the same, MeKai says there’s a “stark difference” in the character 50 Cent played and the younger version of Kanan he portrays in the prequel — family.
“It’s a story about a son’s love for his mother, and a mother’s love for her son and what they’re willing to do for each other, which in this case happens to be anything,” MeKai said at the virtual press junket for the series. “That’s the immediate difference, like the immediate stark difference, just in the two characters.”
Set in 1990s South Jamaica, Queens, New York, Raising Kanan goes back to the beginning as 15-year-old Kanan is introduced to the drug game.
The teenager is the son of Raquel “Raq” Thomas, played by Tony Award-winning actress and singer Patina Miller. Raquel is determined to grow her cocaine distribution business and refuses to let anyone or anything get in the way. Young Kanan is impressed by his mom’s power and influence and wants to emulate her.
MeKai, 20 previously had roles on the television series Arrested Development, Girl Meets World, and Disney XD’s Kirby Buckets, but Kanan Stark is far from a Disney character.
To prepare for his new role, MeKai said he drew inspiration from 50 Cent.
“There was a lot of just watching Power and watching 50 Cent interviews and that was to just try to capture his essence, try to capture some of the things he did with that character, and also try to channel some of 50’s mechanics,” the actor explained.
Young Kanan is encouraged to pursue an education in the prequel series, but he has other plans and wants in on the drug business.
“You get to go on this journey with him in experience,” MeKai said. “It’s a story about his environment and his influences and the choices he makes.”
Raising Kanan also stars Omar Epps, London Brown, Malcolm Mays, Hailey Kilgore, Joey Bada$$, Toby Sandeman, Shanley Caswell, and Antonio Ortiz.
This is the second Power spin-off after Power Book II: Ghost debuted in 2020. The new prequel is created by Sascha Penn, who was a writer on the original Power. Courtney A. Kemp, 50 Cent, and Mark Canton serve as executive producers. Additional executive producers include Chris Selak, Shana Stein and Bart Wenrich, and Kevin Fox.
Power Book III: Raising Kanan premieres Sunday, July 18 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Starz and across all of the network’s platforms in the U.S. and Canada.