Tray ChaneyPhoto: Courtesy of Tray Chaney“World going one way; people another, yo” — Poot, The Wire, Season 4, “Misgivings”
On June 2, 2002, The Wire, one of the greatest shows known to man, animal and whatever lies atop President Tang’s head, premiered on HBO. “Timeless” is a word that tends to be tossed around quite liberally, but The Wire is one of the few works of art that truly earns this description.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have HBO and wasn’t introduced to the series until a short time after its series finale (shouts to my former co-worker Rick for lending me the box set, which I quickly and happily binged), but once I entered the dramatized world of Baltimore through the eyes of the police force, drug dealers, residents, longshoremen, kids and politicians who were all affected by their respective institutions, I was hooked forever.
To this day (to this day!), I’m still amazed that such a universally critically acclaimed series didn’t win one equally acclaimed statuette. Amazed, yet not surprised.
While The Wire explored various groups and organizations in the city, I was of course particularly invested in the goings-on of Avon Barksdale (Wood Harris) and Stringer Bell (Idris Elba). By extension, that led me to the journey of D’Angelo Barksdale’s (Larry Gilliard Jr.) crew, made up of young bucks like Bodie (J.D Williams), Wallace (Michael B. Jordan), and of course, the ever-loyal Poot (Tray Chaney).
This past Sunday marked 17 years since the HBO series first premiered, making it timely to talk with Chaney about the upcoming docuseries he’s executive producing, Undeniable. Along with Chaney (via Chaney Vision Ent), Anthony Commodore (Commodore Independent FilmWorks), and Mitch Credle (Safe House Films DC) also serve as executive producers.
As Chaney tells The Root, “Who wouldn’t want to know what’s going on in the lives of other cast members who were on this critically acclaimed groundbreaking HBO series The Wire? How we landed our roles on such a groundbreaking show? What happened when it came to an end in 2008? Where we are now?”
The series will feature interviews with Big Daddy Kane, Clifton Powell, Kenny Lattimore, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Russ Parr, Keith Robinson, and Black Child. The series will include behind-the-scenes scoop from The Wire, along with interviews with fellow cast members Williams and Anwan “Big G” Glover (who portrayed Slim Charles).
Like many of the actors who were lesser known prior to the series premiere, Chaney embodied the character of Poot and breathed life into him, causing audiences to remember him forever. Chaney confirmed the similarities he shares with Poot are his heart and loyalty.
“If you notice in The Wire, Poot took direction very well and showed sympathy on a lot of different scenes,” he told us.
As far as key differences? Well, that part is obvious.
“I’m not a low-level drug dealer running around being a womanizer,” Chaney chuckled.
The Wire ended in its fifth season on March 9, 2008.
“It was hard to share the aspect of when The Wire ended because I remember being broke, not getting no [sic] work, creating my own independent films, shooting videos for my music selling out the trunk of my car in Washington, D.C. on the corner of 13th & F Street, being laughed at,” Chaney recalls to The Root. “People would walk past me and say things like ‘Your life must be hard now after The Wire ended,’ but through it all, I remained strong and was able to recreate the Tray Chaney brand. What folks didn’t understand was [that] I was building character, and it worked. I had to reintroduce myself and now I’m proud to say the work is coming in.”
Speaking of such “work,” Chaney sold a couple of films such as 6Hearts 1Beat (Pureflix) and The Portrait (Aspire). He stars in Bounce TV’s Saints and Sinners, which will be returning for its 4th season on July 7, 2019.
Currently living in Atlanta, Chaney hails from D.C., and through having relationships with family and friends in Baltimore, he is passionate about preserving the city’s identity.
“The Wire explores that rot of Baltimore,” Chaney mused. “But, I would like viewers to know the beauty of Baltimore; Baltimore is the home of outstanding museums, fine universities, world-class medical research institutions, inviting tourist attractions, and beautiful, tree-lined residential communities.
“What the viewer would see and what The Wire exposes is the reality of the ‘other’ Baltimore,” he continued. “That is the side of the city that is scarred by vacant houses, hampered by a poor performing public school system, and plagued by a concentration of poverty that leads to high levels of illegal drug abuse and violent crime. These two Baltimores co-exist in a relatively small area only 40 miles from the nations’ capital, Washington D.C.”
Undeniable is an official selection at the Black Continental Independent Movie Awards and will be premiering at the Civic Building June 15 in Silver Spring, Md.