Fans of Starz’s hit series Power will immediately recognize the gorgeous J.R. Ramirez as the stoic Julio who serves as the right-hand man to both Tommy (Joseph Sikora) and Ghost (Omari Hardwick). Over the past three seasons of the explosive series, we’ve gotten to know more about Ghost and his double life as well as Tommy’s volatile temperament, but Julio has remained somewhat of a mystery. Now with Power returning for a fourth season on Sunday, June 25, we are going to see Julio in an entirely new light.
Exciting things happenings for Julio this season. Ahead of the Season Four premiere, EBONY.com sat down to chat with Ramirez about the critically acclaimed series, Julio’s backstory and why it’s so important that people of color are represented in the entertainment industry.
EBONY.com: Thank you so much for speaking with me today.
J.R. Ramirez: You got it. Thanks for taking the time.
EBONY.com: It’s really exciting that Power is about to return for its fourth season. Your character, Julio, on the show has always been the more level-headed buffer between Ghost and Tommy. How did you approach playing Julio?
JRR: I feel like Julio’s been for the last four years in the shadows doing what he’s told, making sure that the organization runs smoothly and nothing bad ever happens to Ghost and Tommy. He’s sitting there taking the punches and waiting for his time to step up. Now, this year, Ghost is obviously in jail and Tommy is left in the position of having to not only balance the organization on the streets but also kind of be like a father figure to the St. Patricks. He doesn’t have that much time. My character definitely has a lot more responsibility within everything. I think it’s something that I feel the audience has really been asking [for] and they’re really going to dig it.
EBONY.com: Were you surprised by anything that you learned about your character this season? I know you can’t tell me specifically, but did anything shock you about Julio?
JRR: No, I kind of had a really good indication of where this guy came from and why he’s doing the things he’s doing. We couldn’t really fill it in and put it up in the last few years, but this year you definitely get a really good indication where Julio came from. [You understand] why he’s [as] loyal as he is and why he had to go through so much slack for so many years and what was egging him. Why did he do what he kept doing? It did a really nice job of creating a beautiful artistry about that. I’m really excited for everybody to see that because it’s true.
EBONY.com: Regarding his backstory what this something you and showrunner Courtney A. Kemp sat down and talked about when you first came onto the series in Season One?
JRR: It was definitely something we sat down and collaborated with a while back. I’ve been blessed enough to be able to still be alive after four years. It’s the kind of thing where every single episode when we’re reading the scripts that get released I make sure to put it in [this] app, and the app shows you each character name, so I put in my character name and scroll all the way to the end. With this kind of show, anybody can go at any time.
EBONY.com: For you what has been the hardest aspect of playing Julio and getting into his head?
JRR: I think the good thing about it was that I had a lot of time when I first get here before I actually started doing Season One for my character. I had never been in New York. I didn’t know anything about New York until I got this role. I had a friend of mine that really told me, “Dude, I know you’re doing a lot of work on the actual role and acting and getting into this character, but I would recommend you go into Harlem, walk through the Bronx, run through Queens and get the feel of the city.” Honestly, that was one of the best things I could have ever done for preparation for my character. This show couldn’t be done anywhere else. It’s such a great place to people watch, too. I would sit and watch people just hang at street corners or in the park and everyone had such a … there’s such a flavor to the city. It’s beautifully portrayed on the show. That gave me a huge help on how I was going to portray this guy.
EBONY.com: We are in a renaissance of entertainment specifically for people of color. Do you think that shows like Power, shows like Insecure, Queen of the South, all of these different shows on television … Do you think that this truly is a renaissance resurgence or do you think it’s sort of like a fad?
JRR: Yeah, I think it’s here to stay, for sure. It’s honestly one of the main reasons I love being a part of the show so much. It’s just because it’s as diverse as it is and unfortunately I feel like for many years, Blacks and Hispanics would get very typecasted. I know I did for the beginning of my career. It was always a very two-dimensional character that was put out there and it’s kind of messed up. I’m Cuban so I know for a fact that we are the largest minority group in this country. We’re doing a show based not only the drug game but in New York City.
EBONY.com: The city is so diverse.
JRR: There are so many different colors and flavors and I love the fact that it’s Puerto Rican, it’s Cuban, it’s Boricua… . There are Dominicans, there are Brazilians, there’s a little bit of everything on this show and I think it’s at a time where it’s very, very important because television is not what it used to be. Even 10 years ago. Everyone wants to do TV now because they’re making mini-movies. They’re spending millions of dollars on each episode on all these different channels and there’s so much content. TV has come to be something that … I’ve met a lot of actors, friends of mine, that were doing movies for years and now so many people want to do TV because the content that’s being made is because the quality is so high. To be able to be on a part of a show that has so much diversity is definitely not a fad. It’s something that Hollywood should definitely start to take note [of] and it’s changing. A lot of my friends who are White are like, “Dude, I can’t get an audition, it’s all Hispanic and Black.” It’s about time.
EBONY.com: What can we expect from season four of Power?
JRR: I honestly think the first episode is going to blow [people] away. The first episode through to the finale it’s amazing. There’s so much going on. They’ve brought in these characters, these actors, that I’ve looked up to my entire career. These guys just killed it this year, there’s Larenz Tate, Matt Cedeño, there are so many amazing actors that come in this year, that play a part of it. This season of Power really is about the road to redemption. It’s all about the consequences of your actions, and I feel like every character of this season is really trying to find a way to redeem themselves for all their wrongdoings. There’s this really beautiful topic that goes throughout the entire season that I think it’s extremely relatable to our everyday life. Who can you trust? In so many ways just when you think someone has the power this year you’re going to think again because they don’t. The writing staff does such an amazing job at really raising stakes and creating three-dimensional characters and flushing out a lot of supporting characters this year. They just did an amazing job; I’m super proud to be a part of it.
EBONY.com: What’s next for you when Power wraps? Do you have anything coming out that you want to tell our readers about?
JRR: Yeah. I actually have a movie that I was a supporting role in that I’m really proud of called Sun Dogs. Jennifer Morrison directed it and it just premiered yesterday at the LA Film Festival. Xzibit’s in it, it has Allison Janney and more …Ed O’Neill …. There is a lot of amazing people in it and it’s just a really relevant topic. I’m really proud of it. I also have some other projects I’m really excited to share with everybody that I can’t really talk about yet. I’m putting the work in.
EBONY.com: We’ll definitely be looking out for it and congratulations on Season Four of Power. We all can’t wait to see it so we’re really excited about it.
JRR: I don’t think anyone is going to be disappointed this year, that’s for sure.
The fourth season of Power premieres Sunday, June 25, at 9 p.m. ET on Starz.