Andre Royo Talks ‘Empire’ and ‘Hand of God’

The entertainment industry reigns with peaks and valleys, hot moments and the not-so-hot. It’s a lifestyle Andre Royo, affectionately known as “Bubs” from TV series, The Wire, can gratefully identify with.

“After The Wire, there was a moment where it was, ‘oh man, am I going to be a junky forever? Am I going to stay in this sort of type-casting situation where I might fade off into the sunset?’, he wondered.

However, if you were to ask him how he’s feeling in this moment, having scored a series regular role on AMAZON Prime’s Hand of God as Mayor Robert “Bobo” Boston and on season 2 of Empire as an up-and coming-badass lawyer, the Bronx native would tell you, “I’ve been waiting for this moment all of my life and I’m going to go at it real hard!”

Amped with energy and focus, the skilled actor adds, “Little by little, I worked myself back into a situation where my craft and talent is being needed again, so it’s great. I feel blessed.”

While taking a break from shooting an independent film called Hunter, Royo spoke candidly to JET about the influence his hometown had on his approach to the arts, what excited him about transitioning from ‘Bubs’ to ‘Bobo’ and the inside scoop on his Empire character, Thirsty Rawlings.

Dive in and enjoy!

JET: I understand that it took a little extra hustle to get into the audition room for Hand of God. As a trained actor, what does that do to your creative process when you’re fighting to prove that you’re more than a one-dimensional character?

Andre Royo: Anything we do, it takes a level of maturity and a lot of discipline and overall trying of our patience. Your character and artistry is tested when the phone is not ringing. You have to make a decision when you’re not hot, whether you’re going to keep that struggle going or move on. Do you go to the bar or go see some theater? This is where you decide who you are as a person. I’m an all or nothing type of artist; it’s always been that way. This is a businesses where you’re always one role away from your life changing. The only way your life can change is if you’re prepared. Right now, I have a great group of core friends, wonderful family with my wife and daughter, and they keep me focused like ‘you betta put that bottle down and go see a play or something.’ I probably make it harder on myself than I need to, but I’ve always known that I was in it for the long haul.

JET: Ha! The series is dealing with a lot – justice, revenge, politics, religion. What initially attracted you to the project? What was it about your character, Mayor Bobo, that spoke to you?

Andre Royo: On the page, I saw somebody that I’ve been watching trying to create a certain style and tone dealing with dark content. Religion is such a taboo. You can only go so far before people get ticked off. So religion, family, sex and the idea ‘who are you to judge me, unless you judge yourself? are evident. We’ve always had these mottos of doing what we have to do, even if it takes some dirt, but I will answer to my own maker. When I saw that on the page, I was like ‘wow’. For me to be involved in this kind of destruction, this will be interesting, and I get to wear a suit! This is going to be fantastic. Just because it’s dark, twisted and creepy doesn’t mean it can’t look sexy. So when we were shooting on 35’s [mm cameras], it just had that slick look to it. It’s a beautiful disaster.

JET: So you were able to build upon the foundation of your character?

Andre Royo: Yeah, Amazon is great. They had us walk in the room with the writers and they asked, ‘what do you think your character would do?’ And I’m like, ‘Really, I have some input here?’ I remember going into the audition, and they asked me what I thought about the character Mayor Boston. I said, ‘this character to me is Rudolph Giuliani meets Ralph Lauren in a P.Diddy video.’ They were like, ‘Wooow, we want to see that. Let’s see if we can get that on screen.’ That was my energy. I went to same high school with Puffy, I saw that a neighborhood kid can go further then where society may dictate he should go,and I saw I’m so much more as well.’ I was excited about that. I know that there are going to be some ups and downs as far as if people are really enjoying it, but I think that people will appreciate that new mediums are trying to put out different kinds of content. Some will stick. Some won’t, but the big idea of someone trying is the best thing about the arts.

Get the scoop on Andre’s character on “Empire” after the flip!

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