LaRoyce Hawkins is known for representing his hometown in all he does. In fact, the Chicago-born-and-raised actor stars in Chicago P.D., a television drama series that follow the intelligence unit and patrol officers of one of the city’s police department districts.
Despite his busy schedule, Hawkins has managed to become quite the philanthropist and, just recently, he joined forces with Chicago-based McDonald’s in a continued effort to uplift communities and inspire excellence.
Last weekend, EBONY.com got an exclusive interview with the star.
EBONY: What inspired you to partner with McDonald’s, and how does it feel to be working with such an iconic brand?
LaRoyce Hawkins: First of all, there’s nothing like planting seeds with powerful people. McDonald's has been a staple in communities all over the nation for a long time. One thing that really interests me is being part of such a powerful team as McDonald's and maybe the challenges that come with that power. I think we can we can commit to making sure they point to the communities that truly need the help. My intention with McDonald's is to try to inspire hope in communities that feel underprivileged and are definitely underserved. I'm coming off of a very successful run with the Salvation Army. To add relief for families during the holiday season . . . that’s my intention with McDonald's. I want to hopefully activate and plant seeds in a way that the community is actually touched . . . whether it be financially or just being the inspiration we can provide from the things we do.
EBONY: You're very philanthropic, I've noticed, and very rooted in the community for sure. How do you plan to contribute and add to the McDonald's mission?
LH: There's initiative within the organization called Black and Positively Golden. My prayer is that I can really help McDonald's within that initiative. I’ve got a bunch of dope ideas about how we can be creative in attacking the communities that need it. Maybe it’s with band activations at certain McDonald's in the hood. Maybe we have big open-mic nights. It’s really about creating family fun and community activities in a space that has been part of the community for so long. I think that legacy and that blueprint is kind of important. More than anything, I want to really learn from McDonald's and how they activate in these communities because I think we can do something powerful.
EBONY: I had a nice conversation with Normani a few months ago. She is involved in the Black and Positively Golden movement within McDonald’s, so you're definitely among some really great people on the path. And of course, we have talk about the new McDonald’s menu items, like that McCafé Cinnamon Cookie Latte you’re drinking and the McCafé Donut Sticks with Chocolate Sauce. Now, especially because it's getting colder and I'm sure your schedule's very busy, how do incorporate these into your life?
LH: To be honest, I don't really think about warm beverages and colorful food the way most people do when it's the holidays. Naturally, I will think about my grandma, who would do really cool things with eggnog. I think about different kinds of spices and how they means the holidays are approaching—it helps to smell the holidays. [Sips latte] These flavors and textures are so family-friendly; this represents holiday time. I think we all love to experience the Christmas season because it just helps us reflect. I think the holidays help us discover the journey within in a lot of ways. It's funny how simple things like coffee and donuts, small things, help us think about the bigger things, the better things, the holidays.
EBONY: Well, it's funny you say all of this. There's that famous song that says, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” What does that mean to you? What makes you feel like the holiday season has arrived?
LH: I have to say, it goes back to the smells. And of course, in Chicago, it’s when we see the snow coming; that’s when you know what’s going on. Once we get toward the end of the year, we start reflecting on how great of a year we had. I think that snow for the average Chicagoan helps us remember what we survived. … I think that's what makes Christmas special in Chicago, because it's layered, mostly in snow, and then you have to put layers on.
EBONY: What are your holiday plans this year?
LH: I just really want to lay low, if I can, and spend a lot of time with family. Actually, the job and other random extracurriculars make it hard to really see family as much as I want. I have a little boy. This is going to be his third Christmas, so I'm excited about spending time with him. I’m looking forward to the whole family kicking it in a real big Airbnb. We have a lot of people coming to town. We will cook, be quiet, lay low and talk a lot of stuff. Also, the Salvation Army asked me to be a bell ringer at certain locations around the city this year and, naturally, I can’t just ring the bell. I'm ready to give it a day, so I'm bringing my band and we're going to activate outside different locations. I also have other artists who are going to come through, and we'll do Christmas covers. I'm looking forward to all of that. It’s going to be cool, and my homie Jim Gibbons, who's the best saxophone player in the city, is also a butcher by day and is going to donate a whole bunch of turkeys. We’ve got close to 100 turkeys that we're going to give to different families in the community.
EBONY: Very nice. It sounds like this year or maybe for the past couple of years since your schedule has gotten crazier, you have created new holiday traditions with your family. Do you have any standing traditions that you try not to break?
LH: Well, what is interesting about us is that we really look for the truth more than tradition. I actually think our tradition is finding ways to break traditions; traditions don't work anymore. I guess one of the things that my son’s mom and I figured out is that as opposed to giving each other gifts during the holiday season, we really just spend time together. I mean, there are still certain things she loves at the Chanel store. [Laughs] So what I said was, every Christmas I will grab a nice Chanel brooch or some kind of ornament, and we’ll put that on the tree so that the collection grows every year.
EBONY: I love that. It’s your own small family tradition. Last question: What is your favorite holiday memory of all time?
LH: Well, one holiday when I came back from college, I kind of ruined Christmas. I knew my mom had tickets and stuff going on for us all around the city. Right before Christmas, I was driving her car and got a boot. We got the boot off and ended up going to the mall and buying a whole bunch of stuff. I lost the bag, so I thought I’d ruined Christmas twice. After all that, we saw my mom’s pops, who had a tree set up for us. It was kind of traditional for us to go over there. We got there, and he gave us the money to help us bounce back from the accidents I’d caused. That is my favorite holiday memory because it was one of those moments when I was reminded that family can always help, and family always comes through. When I dropped the ball in one space, somebody was there to pick it up for me.
Stay connected with Hawkins on Instagram and Twitter via @RoyceDaVoice, and be sure to stay up to date with McDonald’s on Instagram and Twitter and by using the hashtag #McDonalds on both.
About McDonald’s New Menu Items
McCafé is brewing good this holiday season with a sweet and delicious cinnamon lineup that encourages the warm, cheerful feelings of the most wonderful time of the year:
- McCafé Cinnamon Cookie Latte
- In celebration of the holidays, McCafé is brewing up a sweet new coffee drink, the Cinnamon Cookie Latte. This is the first new holiday flavor in over five years.
- It is made with the sweet taste of cinnamon, hand-stirred with milk and rich, freshly brewed espresso. The McCafé Cinnamon Cookie Latte is topped off with a sprinkle of cinnamon for a creamy delight that smells and tastes like the holidays in every sip. The flavor is available all day long in hot or iced lattes throughout the holiday season.
- McCafé Donut Sticks with Chocolate Sauce
- McCafé Donut Sticks are back for an additional holiday delight along with a new decadent Chocolate Sauce made just for dipping.
- McCafé Donut Sticks are made fresh throughout the morning, prepared in McDonald’s restaurant kitchens until hot, crispy and golden brown for a light and airy texture – never microwaved. They’re sprinkled with cinnamon sugar for a crunchy outside and soft, doughy inside.
- We always let our customers be the guide, and a dipping sauce was our most highly requested wish with the return of the sweet treat.
- Both menu items are available at participating McDonald’s nationwide for a limited time.
About McDonald’s USA
McDonald's USA, LLC, serves a variety of menu options made with quality ingredients to more than 25 million customers every day. Ninety-five percent of McDonald's 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by businessmen and businesswomen. For more information, visit www.mcdonalds.com, or follow us on Twitter @McDonalds and Facebook www.facebook.com/mcdonalds.