Posted on: May 31, 2024 Posted by: Sese Wilder Comments: 1

“The Chi”, the gritty and thrilling drama series that has captured our hearts, is back for another round of breathtaking and awe-inspiring moments in the second half of Season 6. The initial episodes of Season 6 had everyone on the edge of their seats, as the series continues to pull at our heartstrings with its engaging, intense, and culturally rich narratives.

The series perfectly captures the spirit of Chicago and its diverse communities. The characters are so relatable that it’s difficult not to find yourself rooting for them and drawing parallels between them and your own family and friends. Among these characters, “Darnell Washington,” the father and uncle who is always seen wearing Bluetooth headphones and has a deep love for old-school music, is particularly memorable. Darnell, portrayed by the talented Rolando Boyce, a native of Chicago and of Panamanian descent, has become a fan favorite, leaving a lasting impression with his portrayal of the character throughout the seasons.

Upscale, had the opportunity to interview Rolando Boyce about the challenges of balancing fatherhood with his role as an actor, how he manifested being on the show, and what viewers can look forward to from Darnell’s character in the upcoming episodes of Season 6.

UPSCALE: How does it feel to be from the city of Chicago? And acting in such a culturally iconic show that spotlights the city where you’re from?

It’s more than I could ever wish for. You know, it was ironic. I mean, I started my acting career in Chicago theater, and was there for years. When I wanted to break off and start TV and film it just wasn’t a lot going on in the city at the time. I mean, you know, I did Prison Break and a couple of other projects. There were some movies but I wanted more. And I was like, I gotta leave. When I was in prison break, I was in the pilot and another episode, but the roles that I was being offered were only co-star roles you know, and I felt like I knew I could do more. I was like, Man, I gotta get away from here to get something bigger. And that’s when I made my move out to LA. It was just ironic that coming out here brought me back to Chicago. I remember watching the first season of the show and I was like, I have to figure out a way to get on this show. You know, words are powerful. I just didn’t know at that time that it was going to actually happen, but it just all worked out and the timing of everything with the role was perfect for me to step in as dad. I play alongside Jacob Latimore as his dad, you know, I remember as I was auditioning, looking at both of our pictures and I was like this is a good match. But it’s not only business, of course, it’s business because of the show, but it’s personal because I wanted to represent my city. You know, I wanted people from Chicago to look at my character or to see my interpretation of it and say, Man, yeah, that’s in Chicago. I don’t care about any awards or anything. I just need somebody to say they can relate, which is priceless. 

UPSCALE: How does it feel to be six seasons in alongside an incredible cast? And how has the journey been for you as an actor?

Well to be with the cast that we have, it’s amazing.  I don’t think people realize how tight we are you know, and how much of a family and loving nature that we have onset on offset. Even in the makeup trailer, the hair trailer, it’s like always a party. We have watched, especially the kids (Alex Hibbert, Michael Epps, and Shamon Brown Jr), we’ve watched them grow up in front of our eyes. Every time me and Jacob are together we say what’s up, goodbye as always, I’ll see you next time and love you. You know, it’s natural. It’s like we definitely do care about each other. And the talent on the show is incredible. I work most of my scenes with the incredible Yolanda Ross and Jacob Latimore. Our chemistry is so amazing, we can rehearse but it’s like we always find some kind of magic between us because we just know each other so well on screen. Then the treat is like when you get to work with other people. You know, we have these men’s circles on the show, and getting to know, Jason Weaver and Luke James have been great. It’s just a wonderful treat when you get a chance to work with some of the other people on the show as well like getting to know Lynn Whitfield and you know, just to get knowledge from her. Me and Kadeem Hardison flew together on a flight from LA to Chicago last year and that whole three hour flight, I think we were talking and chopping it up. It’s a great thing.

UPSCALE: So in part one of season six, we saw your character Darnell, trying to be a father and also a friend to his adult son that is dealing with very serious life issues. And so we also know and have watched Darnell’s character kind of evolve over the seasons. Tell us about the Father-Son dynamic between them over the years and where they are now.

Very true to life. I think it was beautifully written. You know, a lot of fathers and sons watching can relate or there may be different circumstances. With Emmett, their situation was relatable with the way that he came to Darnell’s porch, and was like he had to stay with him. And you know, what I always loved about Darnell was that he was about taking care of his kids. Now he may not be the best dad and everything, but he was gonna try his best to take care of his kids. He came with maybe a hard love initially, because they did not know each other and they had to get to know each other first. Actually, on and offset as well because Jacob and I didn’t know each other. It was so beautiful to witness, as we just tried to figure each other out. The father son dynamic gradually grew through the years once they got a better understanding, you know. And then I think come season four, when Jada was battling cancer, I think they really got tight because it was like you got to come together for his mom. So you know when you’re coming into season six, you see Emmett, a young man trying to figure out who he is and maybe going down the wrong road in the fast lane. Darnell, as a father, fans can see he was trying to warn him and tell him that’s not the path you want to take. Darnell just wants to be there and to protect him in any way he could because they made such a tight bond. So, I mean, like I said it’s just beautifully written. I could not have envisioned a better part than Darnell with the way they wrote it, you know. 

UPSCALE: What are some similarities between Darnell and Rolando the actor, and what are some things playing the role of Darnell has taught you in your personal life? 

Well, we look alike (laughter). As you can see, I wear Airpods but I don’t walk around with the Bluetooth so that’s something that’s different. We both care about our families dearly, and that’s one of the things that attracted me to the role. I’m at the age now where I play a lot of Dad roles and you know, I love that because it comes easy because I’m a dad of four and I love my kids. I’m old school too, but I’m not as old school (laughter). 

UPSCALE: How have you maintained your family and work life balance while pursuing your career in entertainment?

Day by day. You know, we try to do as best we can. My youngest girls are like 14 and 12 years-old now. They haven’t really even watched the show yet. So, you know, when we shoot, I have to go away. It can be tough, but any chance I get, I always try and get back because kids they grow up fast. So any opportunity I can be there, I show up. I like to go to the movies together. I’m a big breakfast person. So you know, I love doing waffles and all kinds of things like that. But you know, I cherish my children like I said all four of them, even the older ones. So it’s cool. We do it day by day with my wife, who is incredible. She’s an incredible support system for me. She’s also an actress too, so we support each other in that kind of way. And you know, we make it work. We make that thing work. 

UPSCALE: What can we expect to see from Darnell is character in the second part of season six?

Well I can’t say too much without getting in trouble but I will say there will be surprises. Just know that this season is going to be really good! 

UPSCALE: What do you want viewers to take away from Season six and are there some key messages within the writing that the viewer should be looking for?

The key message I would say would be about watching your back and it’s a lot of surprises and a lot of new characters coming in. You know, I love the fact that we’re bringing in new people and people are coming in excited ready to work. But I think the same message of family is important. I love what the writers are doing with mental health and putting awareness to that. We definitely need that as a community. Just know that this season is real gritty and dirty (laughter). 

UPSCALE: What else are you currently working on? Or do you have any new projects that you’re working on?

Actually right now, we’re about to start back shooting season seven. That’s happening soon. Also, this past week on Apple TV, there’s a show called “Dark Matter” and I’m going to be in couple of episodes of that. I did a couple of short films this past year and one of them I think is going to be at Essence Fest this year. The other one is going to premiere at some film festivals and I have more movies, but I don’t want to talk about it too soon. Just know that it’s a lot happening for me.

To keep up with Rolando, follow him on all social media platforms @RolandoBoyceSr . Be sure to tune in weekly to “The Chi” on Showtime every Friday!

In Wordly Love,

Sese Wilder

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