It seems like cop shows are a dime a dozen nowadays. You have NYPD this, Code Blue that, Swat, etc, but NBC’s “Chicago P.D.” beats to a different drum. That’s mainly because of its cast. It’s cast like Chicago: a little bit of hip-hop, a little thug and rachet, but all heart.
One of the standouts in the cast is Officer Kevin Atwater, played by LaRoyce Hawkins. Even though he’s a cop, Atwater lives in a predominantly African-American neighborhood suburb where gun violence is real. It’s because of that, he can flip the script, talk a good game while still standing up for what’s right.
“I’m grateful to be that voice to speak for both cultures,” Hawkins told the Chicago Tribune, “the black culture and the cop culture.”
So who is LaRoyce Hawkins? This handsome star was born and raised in Harvey, Illinois, a southern suburb of Chicago. While Hawkins was growing up he lived with his grandparents until he was 13 and he credits them with shaping his life and the lives of his siblings.
Hawkins attended Thornton High School, where he was recruited to play basketball. His grandfather’s advice of “choose what makes you feel better,” stuck with him, so Hawkins left the basketball team sophomore year when it felt right and joined the speech team. It was there where he caught a glimpse of his calling and became a two-time state champion in comedy speech writing and received awards twice from the Illinois High Speech Association: for “original comedy” in his junior year and for “humorous acting duet” in his senior year.
“When they told me the character could be from Harvey? That was the most valuable gift they could give me as an actor because then I knew exactly who he was. I’m from Harvey myself. I grew up with……guys like him. I pull references for this character from Harvey, Illinois — which in my humble opinion is one of the greatest microcosms of Chicago. There’s good, there’s bad, there’s ugly. But it’s where I’m from. Harvey raised me. And it’s what breathes life into this character.”
As a theater major at Illinois State University, he realized something else about himself: “I discovered that I was a soft narcoleptic.”
Huh? What? LOL
If you leave me alone long enough with my eyes closed in a dark space, it just kind of happens, whether I’m supposed to be asleep or not. I just kind of knock out. My colleagues now at ‘Chicago P.D.,’ we’ll go to the movies and they’ll just know for a fact that I’m going to be asleep by the middle of it.”
So what’s next for LaRoyce? Well, he’s a standup comic, a spoken word artist, and a musician.
“As a vocalist, musical ranger, things like that, the harmonica is probably the only instrument I play,” explains Hawkins to TheKnockturnal. Me and my little brother make music, we’ve got EPs and things like that we are going to be dropping. I think that’s where the word musician comes from, but between me and you, ‘musician’ was never a title that I gave myself. But I do music and like I said, I’ve been working on the harmonica for a few years, but with my musical experience, I guess it just kind of stuck…I consider myself more of a vibe warrior than anything, which just means I got a bunch of different gifts that I can tap into and I just intend to motivate and inspire as often as I can.”
Keep working in your gift young brother. We appreciate you.