If you were ever searching for a show that unveils the truth of what happens when those sworn by law forsake their badges of honor, then “The Oath” is for you. Crackle’s all new criminal drama is executively produced by Grammy-award winning artist and business tycoon 50 Cent and created by former LA County Sherriff Department deputy Joe Halpin.
Recently, the Sentinel conducted an exclusive interview with two of the show’s stars Arlen Escarpeta (Final Destination 5) and Kwame Patterson (The Wire) who both shed some light on the American streaming series and its daunting relevance in today’s society.
“The Oath” is centered on a dynamic trio of Black men with very different realities. While Escarpeta plays a morally upright guy and undercover agent named Damon Byrd who tries to find his place in his life and career, Patterson portrays a rigid, drug dealing businessman named Neckbone who brings intelligence to crime. To complete the trio, Cory Hardrict (Lincoln Heights) joins the cast as Cole Hammond, a man who loves his family, is passionate and wears his heart on his sleeve.
As for the comradery between the three on and off set, Escarpeta says that they always work to support each other’s dreams and career goals. “That’s one of the main things that I think young Black men can learn, to share space, share energy, share ideas and work together,” Escarpeta said.
Of course, we also addressed the quite hilarious name given to Patterson’s character, Neckbone. Patterson said that when presented with the opportunity to star in the role, the writing was so amazing that the name was an afterthought. “I don’t care what his name is, his name could’ve been chicken head and I would’ve played because the writing is so amazing and the story is so good. When I got that call, I was excited,” he said.
Patterson, who comes from a military background, said he worked diligently to incorporate his service experience into the role by making sure his character came across as very stern and efficient. “When Neckbone walks in the room, people stand at attention, it’s that presence that you bring,” Patterson said.
When asked about the newfound availability of diverse character roles in Hollywood, Escarpeta says landing multiple roles in a series as Black men has been a blessing. “What I love about our show is that you have three different types of Black men on the show. Initially, there would have been only one of us on the show,” he said.
In the last several years, it appears that Hollywood is finally catching up to acknowledging the magic and beauty of our gifts. Escarpeta says the days ahead are far better than the limited opportunities given to Black actors in the past.
“I like to call that ethnic garnish; you have your main entrée and they sprinkle some garnish on the side. If it’s ethnic, that could be Asian, Black, Latino, then we all have to fight for that role, so it’s a blessing to see three of us on the show. “I think it’s definitely changed for the better, and we’re all in a very good place,” he continued.
Provided the rate of gun violence, police brutality and discrimination still occurring among men of color, the duo said their excited about the show revealing the inner-workings of some police gangs.
“We’re on a show that deals with violence, corrupt police, and while we’re entertaining, at the same time we’re having a conversation, and we’re really opening up that dialogue to allow people to see that okay this is real, this does happen, it’s not just a news clip away, its real,” Escarpeta said. “Not all cops are bad, not all cops are good, and you don’t get to necessarily differentiate in that split second moment,” he continued.
We also asked Patterson and Escarpeta about how they use their platforms to affect the youth, along with what advice they can give to aspiring filmmakers, actors and creatives.
Escarpeta, who was born in Belize and grew up in Inglewood, said that his unique experience gave him the ability to see past his block and in turn bring his knowledge and expertise back to young people in need of guidance.
“Number one, I’m an open book. If you run into me at the grocery store, at the barbershop, it doesn’t matter, I’m going to answer your questions, and I’m going to give you as much information as I can give you. It’s up to you what you do with that information,” Escarpeta declared.
Patterson said that most aspiring actors are mistaken when it comes to the work and [the] follow-through it actually takes to embody any role. “Take an acting class, take one acting class, and if you still like it after that, hit me back. People don’t realize it’s hard work,” Patterson said.
Escarpeta also said that from a filmmaking standpoint it’s important to have a viable plan and strategy to make the project successful. “Study the craft, be diligent, and don’t cut corners. If you have money to put into your project, put it up on screen and educate yourself in any way shape or form you can,” he said. “Ask as many questions as you can to anybody, a closed mouth does not get fed,” he continued.
Even while these actors are enjoying their craft in front of the camera, they also have aspirations to direct and produce their own projects in the future. Both say acting is their first love, but the ability to direct or produce provides a pathway to control the narrative and give opportunities to creators in the world of media and entertainment.
Be sure to catch all ten episodes of the “The Oath” on Crackle by downloading the app or watching for free on crackle.com. To see exclusive interview footage, visit www.lasentinel.net.