Power Book III's Malcolm M. Mays Previews a Lou-Lou/'Nique Standoff, Lovingly Reflects on Snowfall

Power Book III, Nique and Lou-Lou

Fans who enjoyed the recent, tension-packed confrontation between Power Book III’s Lou-Lou and ‘Nique are in luck. The verbal sparring will continue in Sunday’s episode of Starz’s 1990s-set crime prequel series.

Snowfall veteran Malcolm M. Mays, who costars as Lou-Lou, says viewers are in for a treat because he and Joey Bada$$, who plays ‘Nique, bring a lot of depth, humor and strength to their scene in the episode “Stay In Your Lane.” (Check out an exclusive photo of the moment above.)

“Joey Bada$$ is my boy, man,” Mays warmly tells TVLine. “He’s such a talent and he’s so special. Everybody’s so good on the show, but Joey’s so multifaceted that when we finally got to do scenes together it was exciting.”

Mays says the two bring out the best in one another in such a way that it heightens the believability of their exchanges.

“He’s always looking for a challenge,” Mays says of the rapper and Two Distant Strangers‘ actor, born Jo-Vaughn Virginie Scott. “He’s like, ‘You really be doing this acting thing. I want to go against you.'”

Power Bool III, Joey Badass as NiqueIt’s also an opportunity for both men to show their range.

“It was like a competition almost, and I invite it,” the Los Angeles native adds. “I love it because he’s so charismatic and so down to take chances. Joey listens, he takes notes, and he gives notes. It’s an exchange and that’s the best part of it. The scenes took a long time to shoot because we were having fun.”

Lou-Lou — a drug-dealing family man who murders men and teenage boys when he has to, all while aspiring to become a record producer — is a big departure from Mays’ turn as Franklin’s boy Kevin Hamilton on Snowfall. (Franklin, played by Damson Idris, killed Kevin in Season 2.) The characters’ vast differences made him want to play Lou-Lou all the more, he admits.

“I’m not in this to be famous,” the actor explains. “As much as it would be nice to be a celebrity, I think it makes you more credible as an artist when people see your range as a human being. How you can stretch and be totally different people when your instrument is finely tuned. It says something about the human condition especially because of who I am and where I’m from and my ethnicity.”

Snowfall, Kevin, Franklin and LeonIn that way, Power Book III and Snowfall have more in common than just him, he says.

“Both shows have amazing casts, and some of my closest friends are on Snowfall,” Mays shares with pride. “Damson [Idris] is my brother and he’s one of the most talented living actors at this moment. Can’t nobody tell me nothing about him. Isaiah [John] and I talk consistently because we’re sharing life experiences. He’s becoming a family man and I want to be domesticated and learn from him. He’s such a good man.”

As for Power Book III, Mays says fans will see Lou-Lou continue to struggle with both the man he is and the man he wants to eventually become.

“We know that Lou-Lou deeply cares about Raq and Jukebox, and his family and he has a code for what he does,” Mays notes. “When you see that, you’re going to have more empathy for him. [Executive producer] 50 Cent is really great about emphasizing that nobody liked his character Kanan until they realized he cared about Tariq. That’s very insightful.”

It’s the type of character study that feels necessary on a genre-defying drama such as Power Book III that deconstructs the motivations behind crime families.

“It’s like the moment Tony Montana said, ‘No women, no kids,’ he became endearing because he cared about something,” he surmises. “You’re going to see Lou-Lou become more torn about the life he has now and where he wants to be.”

Want scoop on any of the Power series? Email InsideLine@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.