Michael Rainey Jr. Talks Authenticity and Being “Deeply Rooted” with Student Peer Counselors

Vashti Dorman| Staff Writer

The Student Peer Counseling Club held a virtual event on Jan. 27, designed to help students unlock their authentic selves and overcome societal pressures and desires. 

With over 200 students in attendance, the Deeply Rooted event guided conversations around the topics of pop culture, social media, authentic relationships and the power of making the best decision.

The event kicked off with Peer Counselors, Cheyenne Paterson and Ronaldo St. James II, giving opening remarks and encouraging words to the students having to face virtual learning during a pandemic and a time of civil unrest. They shared if any students needed any assistance regarding mental health, to reach out to the Student Peer Counselors. 

16-year-old musician and singer, JoHanna Rae, then graced the event with her voice singing, “Rise Up” by Andra Day. 

Following the performance, highly anticipated keynote speaker, Michael Rainey Jr., joined the conversation on mental health. 

Best known for his role in the Starz series “Power,” as Tariq St. Patrick, Rainey spoke about his journey to stardom, getting his start in “Sesame Street” and other commercials and music videos.

Rainey got his first big role in 2009 when he starred in the Italian film entitled “Un Altro Mondo.” He later starred in the film “Luv,” where he acted alongside rapper and actor Common. He has had the opportunity to work alongside notable actors such as; Danny Glover, Dennis Haysbert, Meagan Good and Charles Dutton. 

Rainey, 20, close in age with many Hampton students, could relate to many of the experiences they faced, growing up with societal pressures. When asked how he stays authentic to himself in today’s society, he answered, 

“You have to go through things and learn as you go,” Rainey stated.

A few lucky students got to participate in a VIP Q&A where they were able to ask Rainey a few questions about “Power,” and how Hollywood affected his childhood. 

Discussing growing up on the show “Power,” he shared that at times, he struggled with his self-image, and being comfortable being in the public eye. Over the years as his self-esteem became more stable, he said he became more secure with who he was and was able to become an authentic version of himself. 

“You get the furthest being yourself,” Rainey advised students. 

Rainey also talked about dealing with the consequences of having to play a character that many fans of the show, “Power,” did not favor. Having to separate himself from the character, he focused on staying true to himself, so the rude comments did not affect him. 

“That’s what I’m on the screen for, to get a reaction out of people,” Rainey said with a smile on his face.  

Throughout the event over $500 in gift cards were raffled off to people in attendance. Along with the raffle, there were also giveaways from the sponsor of the event, Legacy Builders Insurance and Financial Services. 

Students were left with Rainey promising to visit Hampton University in person, when the Covid-19 pandemic is under control and allowed. 

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