by Ernest Hardy | Photography by Zen Sekizawa
Ava DuVernayÂ is sitting in a closed-off section of the AndazÂ West Hollywood hotel, waiting for her star Omari Hardwick to show up. DuVernay, who made history at the Sundance Film Festival this year by being the first African-American woman to win the festivalâ€™s Best Director Award (for her new film Middle of Nowhere), is starting to joke with her producer about â€œactor time.â€ But as the clock ticks, the jokes become strained. Texts and e-mails are sent, and phone calls are made. Finally, an hour and some change after the scheduled start time, Hardwick shows up.
â€œI was sick,â€ he says apologetically as he enters the room. â€œI really was.â€ And it appears to be true. Hardwick, who radiates old-school masculinity and matinee idol charisma, has looks that are perhaps even more potent in person than in photographs and his films (Kick-Ass, For Colored Girls, Miracle at St. Anna, Sparkle, DuVernayâ€™s feature debut I Will Follow), but today he appears slightly drawn and fatigued.
â€œI think I got food poisoning yesterday,â€ he explains, taking a seat beside DuVernay.