Dayo Okeniyi: ‘Shades of Blue’ Star’s Role of a Lifetime

Dayo Okeniyi stars as Detective Michael Loman on NBC's 'Shades of Blue.'

Dayo Okeniyi stars as Detective Michael Loman on NBC’s ‘Shades of Blue.’

People think they know Loman. They have no idea. – Dayo Okeniyi

Dayo Okeniyi stars as Detective Michael Loman on NBC’s hit police drama ‘Shades of Blue.’ Okeniyi plays the role of Loman, a rookie NYPD detective whose idea of the job and his role on the force is challenged from day one. Loman is the proverbial good guy gone bad – real bad due to bad luck, bad timing, and a really bad decision, which leads him down a path from which he may never be able to recover. Detective Loman’s complexity is what drew Okeniyi to the role.

“Loman is a fresh young man coming into the NYPD as a detective, which is really hard. He has all of these ideas and ideologies of what that means and all of it is challenged almost immediately. He has to play catch up with this world he’s now a part of,” says the Nigerian born actor. Okeniyi also liked the fact that Loman’s character is rare. “There is nothing stereotypical about him at all,” says Okeniyi. “When I read the character, he felt like a person. It felt original. As a young, black actor, you don’t find roles like that often,” says the Anderson University graduate.

After landing the role, Okeniyi got busy with preparing to play the naïve NYPD detective by watching hours of police training videos and working with police consultants to really figure out the best way to play the character. “YouTube is becoming an actor’s greatest resource,” he says laughingly. “I watched everything from tactical training like how to enter and clear a room to the psychological training needed to interact with people.”

SHADES OF BLUE -- Episode 101 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jennifer Lopez as Detective Harlee Santos, Dayo Okeniyi as Michael Loman -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC)

SHADES OF BLUE — Episode 101 — Pictured: (l-r) Jennifer Lopez as Detective Harlee Santos, Dayo Okeniyi as Michael Loman — (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC)

Okeniyi is pouring all of what he has learned about police officers into the role of Loman, while learning as much as he can about the craft of acting from his fellow stars Ray Liotta, Drea de Matteo and Jennifer Lopez. “The show has amazing people in front of and behind the camera,” says Okeniyi. “Nobody is bringing you ten pages that hasn’t been completely thought out. They pound the material. They look at it from every angle so the scene can be the best it can be.”

In addition to “incredible writing,” Okeniyi says the approach to writing works hand in hand with the acting. “I’ve learned not to compromise, especially from Ray. Everything is questioned. Why are we saying this? Why are we doing this? He’s concerned with the authenticity of the character and performance,” says Okeniyi. “Sometimes as an actor, you get the pages and you think about the one way it can be played. Well, Ray thinks about 18 different ways it can be played. He’ll play a scene in a way that is always unexpected which is what makes him a great actor” he adds.

Okeniyi is committed to great acting and convincingly portraying a man engaged in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse. The actor featured in Vanity Fairs New Wave portfolio of 30 Under 30, leaves viewers with a hint about what to expect in the upcoming finale. “People think they know Loman. They have no idea.”

Watch Shades of Blue on NBC on Thursdays at 10 p.m. EST. Check your local listings for channel information.

This article was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. Follow her on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Instagram or Twitter @TheBurtonWire.

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