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  • Eric K. Thomas

Deric Augustine Talks Playing Muhammad Ali in "Godfather of Harlem" and Being NBA 2K20's Leading Man


Godfather of Harlem was a television series that told the story of the infamous crime boss Bumpy Johnson. On the show, which aired on EPIX, Bumpy ran into a few influential Black men like Malcolm X and Cassius Clay. Actor Deric Augustine played Cassius Clay, who changed his name to Muhammad Ali. Some may not remember what the heavyweight champion was like during that time but Deric's stellar performance would be as close as it gets.



Deric isn't new to TV as he's played in shows like Criminal Minds, Giants and Cloak and Dagger. He was also the lead actor on NBA 2K20 career mode. We recently spoke to Deric about playing Muhammad Ali in the EPIX series, the responsibility of Black celebrities to speak out against social injustice and more.


On training to play Muhammad Ali.


Right now, I'm doing the physical part. I have to gain 10 more pounds. I start boxing training on the 1st. I do two a day right now with my trainer. That's the physical aspect. Now the mental, the craft aspect, I'm going to be training with my coach. Dialect training and speech training. His whole mannerisms. I watch the videos. I listen to his audio interviews. Anything I can grab from him, I do it.


Deric believes that public figures need to speak out against social injustice.


I feel like that is what we are supposed to do. We have this platform for a reason. It's not just to showcase our talents. That's important as well but we should be able to speak about social injustice. To talk about police brutality and other things that's going on in the world right now. Especially being a Black male, a Black female in this day and age, I feel as though the world is changing. And I feel as though it's changing for good and for better and we're reaching a pinnacle where we all have to use the platforms we have to inspire others and to talk about stuff that may be wrong in the world.


On being the lead actor on NBA 2K20.


It was a movie inside a video game. We had a director, producers. I was a lead actor. I got to work with Idris Elba for a couple days. Rosario Dawson. I got to work with Thomas Middleditch, a well-known comedian. It was an experience that I never had before that I'm glad I did have.


Check out the full interview below.


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