Actor Omar Epps remembers growing up in a family filled with the arts. His grandmother was an artist, his grandfather was a jazz musician, and his mother was an educator. Epps states his passion as a youngster was writing, long before embarking on a career as a performer.
Though surrounded by the arts, and having a passion for writing, Epps originally saw his career future in athletics.
“I thought I was going to be a running back in the NFL because football was my first love. I used to play for the Brooklyn Skyhawks, but the arts in general were always in the background,” said Epps.
Now, Epps is a nine-time NAACP Image Award winning actor. His list of credits consists of the films “Juice,” “Higher Learning,” “Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice,” “The Wood,” “Higher Learning,” and “Love and Basketball,” and so many more. Some of his television credits include “ER,” “House,” and “This Is Us.”
Then in 2018, Epps officially added author to his impressive list of accomplishments in entertainment.
His first book, “From Fatherless to Fatherhood” is Epp’s own memoir of his humble beginnings growing up without his father in Brooklyn to becoming a successful Hollywood actor and then himself becoming a father.
Epps recalls it being a cathartic experience and one that required discipline because of the focus it took to complete it.
He says his second book was inspired while he was at a book fair. Epps remembers seeing the impact that one young adult, science fiction author had on a group of young people, and he was astonished by how many kids still read books.
“I went home that night really thinking about that because I had this idea that I’ve been thinking about for like a decade,” recalled Epps. “The light bulb went off as a sign that I needed to activate on this thing and figure it out.”
What Epps would come to figure out was his duology featuring the books, “Nubia: The Awakening,” and “Nubia: The Reckoning.”
It is a coming of age, young adult series with elements of science fiction, fantasy, and Afrofuturism. Written with Epps’s co-author Clarence A. Haynes, the story centers around three teens, the children of refugees from a fallen African utopia, who navigate their brand-new powers in a dystopian New York City.
“I thought to myself, ‘what if love were illegal’ and then was reborn through this 13-year-old kid who he himself was love,” pondered Epps. “That’s what spawned ‘Nubia: The Awakening’ and ‘Nubia: The Reckoning.’”
When speaking about his co-author Haynes, Epps said he always wanted to write the duology with someone who could share their own unique voice and someone who understood the genres that he wanted to explore.
“I’m an ideas guy, so I didn’t know there was a YA, sci-fi, Afrofuturism genre,” said Epps. “There are rules that come with the world-building, so partnering with Clarence, I was really fortunate. He not only got it, but he was also an expert in that space.”
Now coming full circle with an idea that started at a book fair, Epps will be one of the featured authors and ambassadors at the 16th Annual Leimert Park Village Book Fair on Saturday, November 11, beginning at 11 a.m., inside the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall.
“It’s a beautiful thing and necessary to keep our kids’ reading, it’s an essential part of how we learn. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by when I do these book fairs how many parents come up to me and say my books were a great gateway to getting their child to read,” concluded Epps.