There comes a time in every creative’s life where a decision has to be made. Either they’re going to continue down their path or they’re going to start creating their own. Lucky for us, Cory Hardrict is choosing to do the latter.  Known for holding his own alongside movie vets such as Clint Eastwood (Grand Torino) and Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), we’re now witnessing Hardrict come into his own greatness with the indie film Destined.

Destined tells the parallel stories of Sheed and Rasheed, both portrayed by Hardrict, as they explore the idea of destiny as well as how the smallest incident can manifest itself into a life changing event. Written and directed by Qasim Basir, Destined presents two possible outcomes, involving everything from street violence to corporate corruption.

After getting a chance to catch his dynamic performance in the movie, caught up with the rising star to talk about how he stakes his own claim in the industry, the iconic project he’ll be taking on next, and why he’s destined to win an Oscar. You did an amazing job managing the two main characters. How did you prepare for these dual roles?

Hardict: I did a film that was similar to that world, which was Brotherly Love, and the audience fell in love with [my character] June. So to be honest, I remembered what I did in that movie and studied that film and my mannerisms while shooting in Philly. I went to Detroit and told Q [the director] to put me in the ‘hood. I like to see how they operate, how they live, their world and their language. I just told him throw me in the snow and let’s get busy.  I just grounded the characters and had a great time. I put all of my honest effort into both characters. I just go for it. I leave it all on the camera.

Destined Cory Hardict Movie Film You’ve been acting for a long time, how do you stay grounded as you navigate through the industry?

Hardict: I keep God first. I have an amazing wife, Tia, and an amazing son, Cree, and I’m a family man first and they keep me grounded. They’re my support system, so they make me stronger. They allow me to go out and act and be humble and keep it simple. It’s about the people, it’s not about me. God gave me this gift to bless the world. That’s what I’m here to do. They say it takes 20 years to be an overnight sensation and I’ve been acting 22  years so I’m just gonna keep going. And keep it consistent. You also serve as an executive producer on this film. Was that an intentional decision on your part?

Cory Hardict: My team talked to the directors and the other producers [of the film] and they thought it would be a good idea to move over into the producer world with my creative mind and there were things that I could help out with in the film’s process, so I thought it only made sense for me to come on as an executive producer. I enjoyed it.

I have a few films that I’m going to be executive producing – a couple that’s really dear to me in the near future. This man that I’m going to play next is very revolutionary and he’s iconic and the world needs him right now. Hopefully, I can deliver that to the world. The film has a very strong theme built around choices, especially as it relates to issues that we face in our communities. What do you think is the difference between someone who stays in that world and someone who can transition out of it?

Hardrict: It’s a choice if you want to change your life for the better. Life is cause and effect, it’s all about choices. And what you do today can deter the next 30 years of your life. You gotta be careful, you gotta pick your friends wisely. Will Smith would say your five closest friends are what you end up to be and ever since I heard him say that, I said I gotta know who’s in my life because that’s who you’re going to become. That’s advice I’d give to these young men out here, killing each other and at war at each other because it’s bigger than that. We need to be together, and love each other. There’s strength in numbers. Once we show the world that we’re together, they can’t stop us. Your drive has also been consistent over the years. Where does that come from?

Hardrict: From my mom. She worked at thrift stores and she didn’t have a high school education. She sacrificed everything she had for me and my brothers. I never went without. She showed me that she could put food on the table, buy us Jordans, we had the best clothes and she worked two-three odd jobs. She had a will power that was undeniable. She went on to be with the Lord, she passed away but she lives through me. So I do this for her and my family. This is my way of paying my mom back by going after my goals relentlessly and trying to win that Oscar one day. Destined will hit theaters February 2017. What do you want the audience to take away from the movie?

Hardrict: It’s never too late to make the right decision in your life. I want fathers to go grab their sons, tell them you love them and be more involved in their lives. Get in tune with what he’s doing in his life so that he doesn’t go down the wrong path. We need our Dads right now, we need strong fathers. I really want fathers to get close to their children. I want families to come together, and on the corporate side, I want you to know that there are men out here who stand for righteousness. Rasheed (the main character) stood up for what was right even if it risked losing his job.

Never lose your soul in the heart of working or doing a job because I believe in real life karma and you want it to come back. So always pay it forward.

Melissa Kimble is the Senior Social Media Manager for the EBONY brand. An advocate for Black Creatives via #blkcreatives, you can connect with her on Twitter at @Melissa_Kimble.