Woody McClain on Cane’s Leadership in Season 3 of ‘Power Book II Ghost,’ Mistrust of Tariq, Transition From Social Media Stardom, and Bobby Brown (Exclusive)

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Power Book II: Ghost is currently airing its third season, and all eyes are on Cane Tejada. Played by Woody McClain, the eldest of the Tajeda crime family finally is in the leadership position that he’s been yearning for. With everything he wants finally on the horizon, it’s up to him to ensure that his impulses don’t lead him to decisions that will jeopardize the business. The complex character is one unlike what McClain’s fans have seen him in, but he plays it well.

It’s a stark contrast from his starring as the Bad Boy of R&B, Bobby Brown, in two separate BET mini-series. Moreso, it’s quite the climb from his start as a social media sensation via Vine years ago. The news recently broke that he signed with M88, so there’s more excitement to come. Popculture.com spoke with McClain about everything happening in this season of Power Book II, his critically acclaimed work as Brown, social media fame, and what’s next for him. Check out the full video interview on our YouTube channel.

PC: The last time we spoke, I asked you a bit about your excitement regarding Cane’s rise as the leader of the pack. I feel as if he’s been very underrated in terms of his capabilities because Cane is very eager to prove that he can lead his family. But this season, we really see him playing a game of chess versus checkers. So talk to me a bit about his growth this season and how it either works for him or against him.

WM: Cane’s growth this season all comes from Mecca. The time that he spent with Mecca in season 2, Cane has really learned how to really think about things. He’s trying to play chess even though this is his first year playing chess. So he might win some, he might lose some, he might lose a lot actually until he gets really good at it. But I’m just excited about what the writers and the showrunner have created for Cane this season. It’s going to be a lot different than what we’ve seen before.

PC: One of the relationships within the show that’s always been interesting to me is Cane’s relationship with Tariq, and we see that there has been mistrust on both sides with each character. In this season, we see Cane really utilize Tariq and his team with Stansfield this season to really be the central piece of the organization. So how does their relationship develop this time around?

WM: It’s the same. I feel like with Cane and Tariq, it is deeper than what the audience has seen, and I’ve definitely voiced that opinion when it comes to when are we going to actually get into why Cane hates Tariq so much? We get that he came into the family and all this other stuff, but it’s a real, real, real reason why Cane really hates Tariq, and I really want to explore that. And I’ve been very vocal about we can please explore why Cane has this hate for Tariq? And I think it’ll make so much more sense to the audience, but we’ll see though. 

That’s definitely something I’m campaigning with the showrunner, Brett. We always go back and forth about going deeper and showing the audience that thing, but when it comes to Cane and Tariq, it’s just they got that Tom and Jerry relationship, that cat and mouse type thing. You think they love each other, but then they’re just chasing each other all, it’s that relationship between them. I would want them to be on the same page, though. I would love to see Cane, Tariq, and Brayden really get out there and build together. But we’ll see. I don’t know. I don’t know.

PC: But what is it about Cane and Brayden? Because Cane has had more trust in Brayden in the past two seasons, and this season we really see him test Brayden because Brayden is not necessarily showing up in the way that Cane has asked him to. So how does that continue to grow, and what are your thoughts on how the relationship difference between Tariq and Cane and Brayden and Cane?

WM: Well, I feel like when it comes to Cane and Brayden’s relationship, Cane feels like he can control Brayden. This is somebody he can actually control because Cane can’t control his siblings. They’d be like, shut up, get out of here. He can’t control his parents, but he can control Brayden. And Brayden shows him respect and that’s all Cane, in this whole universe, he just moves around wanting respect for what he does. And I think Brayden gives him that. And I enjoy, that’s like my favorite relationship to see, Brayden and Cane because we get to see more of the goofy side of Cane, and I think that’s a lot of fun. And I think Brayden brings that out because Cane can let his guard down with Brayden because he is no threat. And I don’t think he gets that with Tariq. He always feels like Tariq is a threat, so that’ll probably never be a thing.

PC: Now we also see Cane do more popups at Stanfields, which viewers view as something that can jeopardize the business. And obviously, Cane does things that we don’t always necessarily understand. So tell us about Cane’s mindset and making some decisions that viewers may consider irrational or impulsive.

WM: When it comes to Cane’s decision-making… Cane has been an interesting character to play because I don’t know all the answers. I put his skin on, and I live and breathe in those moments, and it’s a hundred percent real, but I don’t know what he thinks. I don’t know what’s about to happen. He’s just such a complex character, and I love him for that. But all Cane knows is protecting the family. That’s all he was taught was anything he does, it has to be for the family. So I think he’s thinking that he’s doing the right things for the family by going to Stansfield and making sure everything is in order because he doesn’t know anything else. Cane can’t draw. He’s not Dru. Dru can go draw. He’s not as smart as Diana. She can go to an Ivy League school. All Cane knows is the streets. And him not getting that respect from his family and you know what I mean? He feels like he’s useless at this point. So I think he’s always trying to prove that he can do the job that he was raised to do. Yeah.

PC: You mentioned that your favorite relationship on the show probably is between Cane and Brayden, but outside of your character, who else is your favorite character on the show and why?

WM: Outside of my character, Larenz Tate. Councilman Tate is my favorite. I laugh at everything he says. It’s just so funny. It is like him talking to Tariq like, “You can’t just be pulling up on me. This ain’t the Breakfast Club.” That is hilarious.

PC: Is that stuff in the script, or do you guys go off-script a lot?

WM: No, the writers do a great job. They do a really, really great job at penning everything, and we just breathe life into him. So I’m not sure when it comes to Tate, if he’s like ad-libbing off his on the script or not. But he’s my favorite, favorite character. I love him, man. And he’s been campaigning since Jesus, this dude been campaigning since the original Power. I wanted to see him get in that position at this point. You know what? He should bring Cane on his team to make his campaign official to.

PC: We don’t need that crossover, but I’m more excited to see Cane continue to lead the way this season. I’ve been thoroughly surprised and impressed by your character this season because he’s really gotten on my nerves, seasons one and two.

WM:  Why? Wait, wait. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I know we doing an interview, but why has Cane been getting on your nerves season one?

PC: Because he’s too eager. So I understand wanting to prove your point, especially within a family dynasty or family dynamic. And he’s the oldest, right? It’s him, Dru, then Diana?

WM: He is. Right.

PC: So I completely understand him wanting to prove who he is as a man, prove who he is as a businessman. But he’s always gone about it just the wrong way. And Iyanla Vanzant said something on one of her episodes of Iyanla: Fix My Life that’s always registered that “your behavior diminishes the message.” And I feel like that completely applies to Cane. He’s just too eager.

WM:  Okay, OK. That was a great answer. That was a great answer.

PC: But obviously, as I said, we love you as Cane in Power Book II, but there’s so much more to talk about because your career has definitely been one to be proud of. I’ve definitely enjoyed watching your ascension from social media to becoming an in-demand actor. So let’s talk a little bit about that. Obviously, initial longtime fans know you because you really built a following on different social media platforms, and we’ve really seen an oversaturation, I feel like, of influencers and content; even though there are ways to monetize, it can also be very overwhelming. So what is your advice to social media folks who are looking to transition into other areas of entertainment, whether that’s in front of the scenes or behind the scenes, and how do they not get stuck?

WM: I don’t think nobody can get stuck when you really love something. When you really put the work in and really grind and really study and go to classes and do those things, you can’t get stuck. I know for me, number one, it was all about the class and all about the art. I feel like everybody, a lot of people treat acting as a side hustle. It’s not a side hustle. It’s not something that you can just wake up, well, you probably could just wake up and act, but to get really good at it, I’ve heard it takes 20 years to really be able to do this thing. So for my thing, I know I am behind. I didn’t get a chance to go to Julliard or Yale or all these prestigious schools that a lot of these trained actors have done. So I feel like I’m always constantly in overtime and always working and trying to get better at my craft.

So I feel like for anybody to break out of those things, you just got to be very, very dedicated. I put the hours in, I’m always shooting in the gym. I don’t stop. And I have to learn how to sit back and kind of enjoy things because right now, I’m just always trying to think about what’s next. But I’m really learning how to slow down and kind of live in these moments. Because I don’t remember doing social media videos, it’s a blur. I don’t remember enjoying my time on tour dancing with amazing artists. I’m always constantly thinking ahead instead of enjoying what I’m in now. So yeah, just enjoy the road, study, work hard, and you’ll get to wherever you want to go.

PC: Now you mentioned dancing, and one of, probably, my favorite roles that you played was as Bobby Brown, and you played him twice, you played him in the new edition miniseries and then in his own biopic miniseries that both of them were on BET, and you killed it. So how is your relationship with Bobby today, especially having played him twice?

WM: Bobby’s great. I only consider playing him once because it’s a continuation, but Bobby’s a great man. He feels like that uncle. He’s really, he’s such a lovable guy, man. When you meet him, you just feel that love oozing off of him. And I just got a chance to see New Edition in concert out here in New Jersey. Me, LaToya, Lovell, we all were able to go out there and see them perform and do their thing. And it was so amazing just to see all of the fellas on stage. They all were up there.

And it just brought back memories. A lot of those memories flash through my head of us going to boot camp. And a lot of the guys didn’t know how to dance. And I was excited because I was the only guy that couldn’t sing. So I was like, yeah, when it’s time to dance, I was like, yeah, I’m in my element. But when it came to singing, I’m standing next to Luke James and Elijah Kelly, these are singers. I remember our first day on set, we were singing, and they were like, “All right, stop.” And they were like, “Bro, you got to hit the note.” I was like, “I’m hitting my note.” I’m like, “Y’all not hitting yours!” We will always have that kind of relationship.

PC: You were on set like, “I don’t get flat.”

WM: And I’m down here. I’m on the bottom note. They were like, “All right, do it again.” They were like, “Just don’t say anything. We’ll handle it.” So it was like, we will always have that kind of relationship. And then when we’re filming and they’re missing the steps, I’m like, “Yo, we got to bring in some backup dancers or something to replace them.” So it was always fun, man. So Bobby’s always bringing up those kind of memories, and I love him for that.

PC: Now, some of your fans were very upset that you did not play Bobby again in the I Want to Dance with Somebody biopic that was released in December. Did you get a chance to see that film?

WM:  No, I haven’t seen it yet. I haven’t seen it, I don’t know why people would be upset though. That’s crazy. I appreciate the love. 

PC: Did you see any clips?

WM: I seen the trailer. The trailer was fire. The trailer was super, super dope. I just got to have time to sit down and really watch it. I’m excited though.

PC: Did they even contact you to try to get you to play him again? And if they did, would you have been gung ho to do it? Or were you like, “I want to retire Bobby?”

WM: That’s hilarious. We did that 10 years ago. That was fun, man. It was fun. It was like one of those lightning-in-the-bottle moments. Can’t recapture that moment again. So yeah, that chapter has been closed, and we’ve moved on. So I’m super excited about that, and I really want to explore other characters.

PC: And you mentioned wanting to really live in the moment and enjoy all of the things that you’re doing now, because some of the things that you have done have been like a blur, or you have to be reminded of things that you’ve done. But obviously, your career is going very well, and you’re in demand. So what type of projects are you hoping to get into now? Do you want to continue to do things in the dance world as well? How do you plan to do things within your career over this next phase?

WM: I just want to do more. I would love to continue with the dance, the dance part of however I can contribute to that. Because I know coming from the marching band, I was able to get an opportunity to work with LeBron James and Nike campaign for the Yard Runners. And I was able to give and bring in my marching band a part of that campaign and give all of my proceeds to the marching band. But I would want to keep doing things like that, whether it is I do something within the dance community, and I’m able to give those proceeds to people I used to dance with. That stuff like that is amazing.

I’m getting into comic book space. I just started reading The Antagonist by Tyler Martin, which is incredible. Dorado Quick is an amazing DC writer. I’ve been following these guys’ things. I’ve been trying to reach out. I’m like, “Yo, I want to get into the comic book space. Can you guys teach me everything?” So I’ve been getting into the comic book space.

I just finished Desperation Road. I have a movie, independent film starring Garrett Hedlund and Mel Gibson that I’m very, very excited about. It’s a different Woody. You’ll be able to see. I’m playing a sheriff that’s trying to solve a murder within the town. So I’m super, super excited about that. Shout out to Nadine Crocker. She’s an amazing director. And yeah, these are some of the things that I’m looking forward to doing.

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