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Ray Routhier

Portland Press Herald staff writer Ray Routhier will try anything. Once. During 20 years at the Press Herald he’s been equally attracted to stories that are unusually quirky and seemingly mundane. He’s taken rides on garbage trucks, sought out the mother of two rock stars, dug clams, raked blueberries, and spent time with the family of bedridden man who finds strength in music. Nothing too dangerous mind you, just adventurous enough to find the stories of real Mainers doing real cool things.

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Posted: August 20, 2018

‘Chicago P.D.’s’ LaRoyce Hawkins brings stand-up act to St. Lawrence Arts

Written by: Ray Routhier

LaRoyce Hawkins, who stars in NBC’s “Chicago P.D.” and is also a stand-up comic, will bring his comedy act to St. Lawrence Arts in Portland on Sunday.
Photo courtesy of LaRoyce Hawkins

LaRoyce Hawkins is often surprised and amused by his celebrity.

Thanks largely to his role on the NBC drama “Chicago P.D.” he gets to travel the world and crowds recognize him. Or at least they think they recognize him.

“I was in Monaco and this little 4-year-old French homie came up to me, and I thought he was asking for 50 cents. But someone told me he thought I was 50 Cent (the rapper),” said Hawkins, 30. “I didn’t know how to tell a 5-year-old, who looked at me with hope in his eyes and needed me at this moment to be 50 Cent, that I wasn’t. So I said, ‘Oui, oui, I am 50 Cent.’ ”

Hawkins, besides starring on an NBC drama, is also a stand-up comic. So he uses the funny things he’s learned about fame and celebrity in his act, which he’ll bring to Portland Sunday with a show at St. Lawrence Arts.

Hawkins has been playing Officer Kevin Atwater on “Chicago P.D.” since 2014 and originated the character on NBC’s “Chicago Fire” the year before. Hawkins says the easy part of playing Atwater is that the character, like Hawkins himself, is from the gritty small city of Harvey, outside of Chicago. A challenging part of the role, he says, is playing a black police officer in Chicago during a very racially-charged and divisive moment in history.

“Those lines between black and blue can be blurred, and I get to play the nuances,” said Hawkins.

Though he stars on a popular TV drama, Hawkins said his first love was comedy. Growing up his mother had a home business, braiding girls’ hair. If a particularly “tender-headed” girl had an appointment, Hawkins’ mother would ask him to entertain them so they wouldn’t cry or scream to much.

In high school, he loved both playing basketball and doing humor pieces as part of the speech team. But increasingly the games and events were happening at the same time, and he had to choose one over the other. His grandfather asked him which made him feel better, sinking a basket or making people laugh. It was an easy answer.

In college, he fell in love with dramatic acting as well. But he’s always kept performing comedy, live and on TV shows like “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” and “South Side” on Comedy Central.

Hawkins says his stand-up is based on real experiences, some good and some bad, but hopefully all funny to others. His 50 Cent story didn’t end with his pretending to be the rapper. He posed for pictures with the boy and met his family.

The real 50 Cent was also in Monaco at the same time (which is probably why the young fan was expecting him), and Hawkins met the rapper later at the Prince of Monaco’s residence.

“I said, ‘Mr. Cent, first of all, you should know Monaco loves you. Second, if you see pictures of yourself on Instagram, it’s not really you, it’s me,’ ” said Hawkins. Hawkins said he feels blessed that after growing up in humble surroundings, his acting has allowed him to travel the world and meet all kinds of people. And a lot of the experiences he’s had seem funny to him and make it into his act.

He recalled one time when he was walking and a white mother with a newborn baby stopped him and asked if she and the baby could take a selfie with him. He said yes, and then asked to use her phone.

“I called my mama and said, ‘I’m taking a selfie with a strange white baby, I’ve made it!’ ” said Hawkins.

Laroyce Hawkins

WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: St. Lawrence Arts, 76 Congress St., Portland
HOW MUCH: $15 in advance, $18 at the door

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