Soaring With Old Friends

Raul Castillo in “Vida” and Kendrick Lamar in “Power” stood out as guest stars by reconnecting with their roots and relationships.

By Beth Finke

Two of the breakthrough performances by guest actors on Starz this season were from Kendrick Lamar on “Power” and Raul Castillo on “Vida.” Maybe not coincidentally, both were working with longtime friends.

“Power” creator and showrunner Courtney A. Kemp credits Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, one of the show’s executive producers, for helping to create a role for his friend Lamar that wowed people on the set as much as it did audiences at home.

“Kendrick worked very specifically with 50,” Kemp says. “Kendrick also worked with us when we wrote the script. He collaborated with us on the construction of the character.” She credits the Grammy and Pulitzer Award-winning rapper Lamar for arriving on set well prepared and engaging with the rest of the cast, adding, “He was wonderful to work with.”

On “Vida,” actor Raul Castillo and showrunner Tanya Saracho have known each other since their high school days together in McAllen, Texas, on the Mexican border.

“What an incredible opportunity to join a project that’s ahead of the game and ahead of its time,” says Castillo about the series. “The rest of the industry is trying to catch up to it.”

Castillo plays Baco, the new Latino handyman at an East L.A. bar inherited by two Latina sisters. “I care deeply about understanding his character,” he says. “We [Castillo and Saracho] want to make sure care is taken into how he is portrayed. It’s my responsibility to be an ally and to help lift up our community.”

‘FYC’ Gets New Spelling

A fresh approach to Emmy Season invites fans and voters to experience Starz shows in an exciting new way.

The network is opting out of DVD mailers in favor of streaming screeners on starzfyc.com and hosting theatrical screenings in Los Angeles of its eligible shows, shown over three nights each at the AMC Century City and AMC Burbank.

“This is a new kind of opportunity for voters to screen our series in a premium viewing environment, while also enjoying some free popcorn,” says Lauren Townsend, EVP, communications for Starz.

Starz is also hosting live events at the Westfield Century City on June 1-2. The Sunday, June 2, event is exclusively for Emmy and guild voters and features panel discussions with the cast and producers of Starz series including “American Gods,” “Outlander” and “Power” and interactive exhibits to showcase the below-the-line elements of the Starz Original series.

“Through the conversations and immersive experience we are creating, the Starz FYC event will bring to life the rich and layered worlds of the Starz Original series for fans and voters alike,” says Townsend.

For screeners and more information go to starzfyc.com