He’s the showrunner & Executive Producer for “Power Book III: Raising Kanan,” the prequel from the “Power” Universe set during the early ‘90s, which returns for its third season and was recently renewed for a fourth.
An origin series that follows the evolution of the villainous Kanan Stark, the notorious drug dealer killed off in Season 5 of “Power,” it’s a slow-burning drama with grit and appeal.
Averaging nearly 9M viewers in its debut season in 2021, the show had one of the best performing first seasons in the Network’s history with viewers faithfully tuning in each week to find out what turned a young and naïve teenager into the ruthless character they had come to know.
“It’s a real character study and that’s what makes it so fun,” says Penn. “We do know how he ends up, and so now we get to figure out what turns him into that guy. We get to see how some of his choices have informed the man that he later becomes and that is a big part of Season 3.”
It’s a series which stars MeKai Curtis as Kanan, Patina Miller as his mother Raquel, London Brown, Malcolm Mays as his uncles and drug kingpin, Unique, played by Joey Bada$$. An engaging period series which explores themes of power, loyalty, and family, its reliance on the power of nostalgia has resonated with audiences.
“It’s a constant conversation between everybody to make sure the show feels as real and true to the era,” Penn continues. “A lot of these actors are not conscious of the ‘90s and that requires us to be very vigilant as sometimes they will throw some slang into the dialogue and it’s stuff like that which we have to be super aware of.”
It’s a testament Hailey Kilgore who plays Jukebox, can relate to. “I was just born in the ‘90s so I missed out on reliving it, but they really immerse us in the world and one of my core memories filming the show will always be talking to our set and prop designers about that era. It’s been the best school ever and I always say I was born 10 years too late.”
Joining Season 3 is actor Grantham Coleman who plays Ronnie. Described as ‘ruthless, vindictive and dangerous,’ he’s a stoic character that’s sure to shake things up in the neighborhood.
With “Raising Kanan,” viewers now know exactly what they’re getting from the show when they tune in, but that wasn’t always the case.
“We were very different than the other ‘Power’ Universe series, as we didn’t have any cast from the other ‘Power,” Penn explains. “With ‘Power Book II: Ghost,’ there was Tariq and with ‘Power Book IV: Force,’ there is Tommy. We were a completely different world and a completely different time, and although we had Kanan and Jukebox, two characters you were familiar with, you didn’t know them as 16-year-olds or 17-year-olds, so that was the biggest challenge. We did have to introduce you to the ‘90s and this world and Southside Jamaica Queens is very different to the world of ‘Power.”
Season 3 picks up where we left off, in Southside Jamaica Queens with the family still reeling from the Mob’s coordinated attack on Raquel, Marvin (Brown) and Lou-Lou (Mays). Returning this season is Italian mob boss Stefano (Tony Danza), while new adversaries are introduced such as “Snaps” and “Pop” (Wendell Pierce and Erika Woods). In addition to Miller, Curtis, Danza, Pierce and Woods, “Power Book III: Raising Kanan” stars Omar Epps, Shanley Caswell and Antonio Ortiz.
“Power Book III: Raising Kanan” Season 3 premieres Friday, December 1 at midnight on the STARZ app, all STARZ streaming, and on-demand platforms with new episodes will premiere every Sunday at 9pm ET/PT.
Samantha Ofole-Prince is a journalist and movie critic who covers industry-specific news that includes television and film. She serves as the Entertainment Editor for Trendy Africa. Photos courtesy of STARZ