New York-born Rayan Lawrence is the epitome of versatility. Having starred in shows such as ‘Magnum P.I.’, ‘Blue Bloods’, ‘Underground;, ‘FBI’ and more. He is currently debuting as ruthless drug lord “K-9” in Starz’ hit show ‘BMF’. Stern, fluid, business-minded and no-nonsense is his MO, and this time he takes that to an entirely new level with this groundbreaking character! Rayan is not afraid to tackle a new role, and he’s proved just that in season 2 of 50 Cent’s urban drama. Rayan is a rare jewel in the industry and someone to keep our eyes out for.
How does it feel to be playing one of the most unconventional, fearless, and reckless drug dealers?
It feels amazing. The love I’ve gotten from complete strangers who recognize me and have a connection to my performance has been overwhelming. I’ve travelled in New York, Los Angeles, Charlotte, NC, etc., [since season 2 was released] and in every city, I’ve spoken with people who identify with the character of “K-9.” Having the opportunity to portray such a complex character on-screen, and chronicle his flaws, his wins, and his losses, is definitely something I have delved deep into and really enjoyed. Seeing people fear this character – both on and off screen – has been a really cool experience to witness. “K-9” is certainly a prolific character that holds his own in the genre of TV gangsters.
How do you prepare to portray K-9?
I built the foundation of the character, and everything flowed from there. I found what I, as Rayan, have in common with the character is we both value respect as paramount and will not take disrespect lightly, from anybody. We both enjoy being well-dressed and expressing ourselves through fashion, we both have strong characteristics of a leader, and we both love basketball. I worked with my acting coach to further develop the character, and did a lot of research on prominent and historic crime families in Detroit. I also listened to DMX daily, as I felt like the lyrics of his music directly correlate to how “K-9” operates. Prayer is also a big preparation step for me, and provided me the confidence I needed to step-in to this role on-set and do the character justice on-screen.
Where do you draw your motivation from to get into character?
My motivation came from my own personal upbringing, growing up in Brooklyn, New York. I was motivated by my own family and my memories, just as “K-9” is motivated by his. Further, just as I shared in terms of my preparation, I took a lot of motivation from the music of people like DMX and Jay-Z, pulling from their ideals of leadership and philosophies of artists like Tupac. All of these examples were great inspirations for me and fueled my motivations.
What was your reaction when you landed the role?
I was ecstatic! I grew up very aware of what the real-life BMF story was and I’ve always loved what the family stood for – maybe not necessarily how they funded themselves, but how much they valued each other, and how they believed in working hard and playing harder. I always thought they were just so cool! They expressed themselves through upscale fashion and always had the best jewelry and clothing – which I always wanted to emulate as well. There aren’t too many people who would be able to pull from real-life experiences to portray a character such as “K-9,” but I can, which is an extremely special and rewarding experience. I was actually in Hawaii filming for “Magnum P.I” when I got the news!
Do you see any traits of yourself in K-9?
Valuing respect above all else is definitely the most similar trait we share. Like I mentioned, we both tend to be the leaders of the pack, and set examples for people who follow in our footsteps. “K-9” is also a teacher, and a motivator, for people in his community, which I think I tend to do a lot of as well.
If you had to describe K-9 to someone that doesn’t watch the show in hopes to get them to view it, what would you say? “
K-9” doesn’t take no for an answer and is exceptionally skilled in finding a creative way to get what he wants. I’d tell people interested in learning more about how to get what they want out of life, that studying “K-9” is a shining example of how to reach your end-goals no matter what. Depending on your own personality as well, it’s possible you may see a lot of yourself in character, too. “K-9” also drops a lot of wisdom, and he’s extremely quotable.
What’s your most memorable moment portraying K-9?
My most memorable moment portraying this character is actually when “K-9” shoots his own mother. It’s an incredibly intense and powerful scene, and the feeling of real fear that was on-set that day, coming from my portrayal of the character, really reiterated for me that I was doing my job as an actor. I can recall filming that scene like it was yesterday. I was able to really go to a place, as an actor, that most people wouldn’t want to go. As an artist, it was truly an out of body experience for me.
What is it like working with 50 Cent, Demetrius Flenory Jr., Da’Vinchi, Michole Briana White, and Russell Hornsby?
The experience is nothing short of amazing. The first time I met 50 Cent, we actually were both walking into a gym in Detroit and shared a few laughs. We have to give him his flowers for creating a platform for actors on this show, as well as in his other productions, and allowing us to grow and thrive as performers. Demetrius Flenory Jr. is such an incredible talent and him and I had a really strong connection right off the bat. We talked daily and spent a lot of time together, chatting about life. Like how I’m mentoring him on-screen, I take a lot of pride in our relationship off-screen. Da’Vinchi is a stand-up guy and always has a smile on his face. Michole and Russell, the BMF vets, were both so welcoming of me on-set. Their blessing and acknowledgement of my work with the character meant a lot to me, given how skilled they are at their craft. Working with the entire cast has been a true blessing and a lot of fun both on and off camera.
If you could tell K-9 anything, what would it be?
I would tell him to try and assimilate into society a bit more, and not stay so strictly confined to his ‘lair’ as he tends to be. He’s always talking about work, and I think he could certainly use a little break. Having money as a motivator is always great, but it shouldn’t be your whole life – I’d tell him to keep playing basketball, and other hobbies that bring him joy, that don’t involve constantly being out in the streets. Moreover, while I connect to his disdain for being disrespected, I think he could stand to be a bit less harsh on people he feels disrespected by, and maybe let somebody else do the dirty work every once in a while.