Bumpy Johnson (Forest Whitaker) may be the sole making criminal calls in Epix’s Godfather of Harlem, however, it is Giancarlo Esposito’s Congressman Adam Clayton Powell who is making political movements.
In Season 2’s forthcoming episode, “It’s a Small World After All,” the World’s Fair comes to New York and lots of political figures, such as none other than President Lyndon Johnson. However, in order to earn the type of waves Powell wants to with the Civil Rights movement, he’ll need to perform the president a favor.
Beneath, Esposito teases what is in store for his personality, what the mission could mean for Powell’s future, and more.
The World’s Fair Is Coming To Queens In The Latest Episode. What’s In-Store?
Giancarlo Esposito: Well, the World’s Fair was a fantastic trip that went on in the’60s and certainly was an exciting location that many nations could come to. Therefore the representation of this in our series is a significant one in relation to what’s going on politically in Washington together with Johnson, and what is happening in New York with Adam Clayton Powell, along with the motion of Malcolm X, and Bumpy’s movement in trying to recapture his energy within Harlem. It certainly represents a tumultuous time, but one that has really been looked at closely by many lenses in this event.
President Johnson Is Assigning Congressman Powell A Very Specific Mission. What Can You Tease About The Political Move?
Johnson’s worried about who he’s involved with, and always tells Adam…”Bring me the votes protect me as well.” Adam Clayton Powell in his connection with Johnson knows that there’s also more he needs from [the President]. He needs support in relation to this civil rights vote. That is the most important thing. So I don’t know whether I can tease any more than that. I understand that’s both of their hope, but the wild card [is] Bumpy Johnson and the New York mafia.
Powell walks a fine line and it’s a catchy line… And I enjoyed that fine moral line. Although, I happen to know that Adam Clayton Powell was the ethical guy. He did not take bribes. He did not do things that other white politicians were doing.
Would You Say He’s Pushed To His Limits?
Yes. He is pushed to his limits. He has to do something that he does not really want to do, but it is justified in his mind because the direction is coming out of the president in relation to what he needs to do… I think you feel a bit of his issue. He always wants to do what is appropriate. And deliver it in that way. But politics is dirty and you have to watch it through that lens too.
Powell gets Bumpy’s spouse Mayme (Ilfenesh Hadera) involved with the drama. Does she agree to take part over concerns she’ll be turned off from the civil rights coordinating?
Mayme would like to do something of significance and she’s a platform because of that her husband is. Although, she doesn’t agree with what he does. Her [role] as a character is to be dragged back and forth between the humanitarian part of her that wants to help people given her posture and the disdain for what her husband does to enable her to be in that position. So for me personally, she is the conscience. She does have a problem with needing to feel secure and wanting her daughter to feel secure and wanting to feel like she can still do something to change things in opposition to the way Bumpy does it.