Many know him as Tommy Egan, the hot tempered, impulsive, New York, street raised, white drug trafficker who’s the right hand man to James “Ghost” St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick) in Starz hit series, Power. Running on his third season now, Joseph Sikora has portrayed Egan so seamlessly that it’s no surprise that the world, specifically African-American viewers, have taken such a liking to him. He’s not the white man who’s trying to fit into the black dominated hip hop world. He authentically belongs there. With his popular role, many wonder if Tommy Egan and Joseph Sikora are on in the same. Well based on what we can see, Sikora is as real as they come.
Joseph Sikora was born and raised on the Northwest side of Chicago in a neighborhood that he considers a transitional point because it wasn’t too far away from the suburbs but still close enough to the city. He grew up in a low middle class working family where everyone was a city worker, mainly policeman and fireman.
“I grew up in Norwood Park, right off of the train line, between the Harlem and Jefferson Park stops, along the L. It was like my own personal transport around the city,” said Sikora.
Sikora chose the inner city as his playground and eventually began graffiti writing at the age of 11. With graffiti as his new hobby, he became very familiar with every train line and bus schedule and learned different elements of the underground subculture. He soon made friends with other inner city kids, some who were dealing drugs and guns, and became involved in the underworld element of Chicago. Having that as a part of his upbringing plays a role into the man he is today and is easily conveyed in his role as Tommy. “I think Power, revolves around a subculture and the people that try to contain that subculture as well. So you learn a certain vernacular, certain way of acting of how things work in that world,” said Sikora. Just like his character, Joseph Sikora was the odd one out, being the blonde hair, blue eyed, white kid in a sea full of brown skinned counterparts. His parents lived in area on the Southside of Chicago called St. Killian Parish along 87th and May. The neighborhood transition from being a predominately African-American neighborhood, to eventually becoming an all black area by the 80s and Sikora and his family were certainly the minority. “We were always surrounded by black people who loved us and I think that plays an intricate part in me playing Tommy,” Sikora said.
Though many showed love, often times Sikora still had to prove himself to his peers. His cousin would often joke saying they were born with an urban curse: blonde hair and blue eyes but that curse soon became a blessing in teaching Sikora how to stand his ground in a tough world. Defending himself with his fist was a test Sikora knew all too well resulting in a multitude of street fights, one of which lead to over 100 stitches in his scalp.
“Being a white male, a lot to times, you’re in a minority position and you have to know how to act and react. [You] gotta know when to run, when to hit and run, and when to hit and not run,” Sikora continued. “When you’re walking around the city with blonde hair, blue eyes, and light skin, people mark you for soft. I think Tommy, would have had to prove himself double the amount and in a similar way.” Life was tougher on Sikora as a kid, but makes no mistake, he didn’t grow up in the hood, and he makes sure to clarify that. “I grew up in an environment where kids were involved in sports over drug dealing and nobody had to hustle to survive. It was working people but I definitely knew all elements of people who grew up in the city who were that. I took mental notes,” said Sikora. “They don’t call it the city of big shoulders for nothing. Sometimes I had to do a little more but at the same time I had the same amount of white privilege.”
With Sikora being in the world of graffiti and living in an area that breed police officers, law enforcement was nothing new to him but he soon development a different relationship with authorities shortly after his grandmother passed. The death of his grandmother didn’t sit well with Sikora and he quickly used his love for graffiti and fighting as a method to cope with the pain. He even took up selling drugs at one point but majority of his issues with the law were for mischievous acts. “Anytime I got arrested, it was for graffiti, criminal damage, assault, fighting, just being the kid who acts out. But after I found boxing when I was a senior in high school and even after college, it really helped calm me down.”
Similar to Tommy Egan, Joseph Sikora was once a hot head and soon found boxing as a productive outlet to manage his temper. He channeled that energy into the ring at inner city park fights and early morning boxing competitions on Saturdays. Sikora credits his local park districts that helped get him and his brother involved in sports such as gymnastics and lifeguarding. Though the ring kept him out of trouble, it was the harsh reality of living a life of crime that ultimately made Sikora focused on the what he really wanted out of his own life.
“Seeing friends of mine get shot and killed, a couple of people shot in front of me certainly and even one guy was killed right in front of me,” said Sikora. “And then watching people go away for a long time, I was thinking this was not the life I wanted for myself. It was a wakeup call as I was graduating high school and into college but I still consider myself a graffiti writer, you never stop that.”
Joseph Sikora soon went on to Wright Junior College, now known as Wilbur Wright College, and eventually ended up at Columbia College Chicago where he received his degree in theatre. Sikora credits CCC as the school where he began honing his acting skills and still considers it a great place to study and have nothing but admiration for the teachers there. Though he praises the school for its teaching, Sikora learned most of what he knows through real life work experience and surprisingly wouldn’t go back to school for theatre if he had to do it all over again. “I don’t know if I would go to college at all for acting, I mean college at all honestly. The best education for me was actually doing the work. But if I had to go to a place again it would definitely be CCC. I’m a proud alumni.”
For those who don’t know, Joseph Sikora has been in the entertainment business for over 20 years and have guest starred in over 40 television shows. He’s acted in several TV series like ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘Law & Order: SVU’, ‘Boardwalk Empire’ and his first lead role as Sheriff in the Adult Swim series, The Heart, She Holler. His resume speaks for itself, but it’s his role as Tommy Egan in Power that is Sikora’s all time favorite.
“I get to act with people with phenomenal talent like Omari Hardwick and Lucy Walters, every week. I’ve just had incredible scene partners and I’m very grateful for that,” Sikora said. “Tommy Egan has been my favorite character of my life for sure.”
It seems as if program creator, Courtney A. Kemp, and executive producer, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, made Tommy Egan specifically for Joseph Sikora. From his vernacular in which he fluently speaks to the brotherly bond between Sikora and Hardwick, viewers can certainly see the difference between a white person trying to act comfortable around black people and Sikora, who is actually comfortable. Sikora says it’s his time living in New York and him growing up during the evolution of hip hop as to why he comes off so realistic on screen.
“I grew up in the hip hop era and being involved in graffiti which is an element of hip hop. When you’re in the world of hip hop you always feel like you are hip hop,” said Sikora. “I quote KRS1 all the time “Rap is something you do, hip hop is something you live,” and I think Power is a very hip hop show.”
Power is currently airing its third season on Sunday nights at nine and the plot twists and turns of the show is sending fans through an emotional roller coaster. For those who have been watching the show since its premier in 2014 knows the brotherhood between Omari Hardwick’s character, Ghost, and Sikora’s character, Tommy, is like no other. Well in this season that relationship is being tested in more ways than one and has Sikora’s role in a transitioning period. With Ghost being out of the drug game, the weight of the business now falls on Tommy’s shoulders and viewers are curious as to how he will handle his new duties as boss.
“I think one thing to remember is that Tommy never seen himself as second in command. He never thought Ghost was above him. He thought they functioned in different ways. They were each one side of a single coin,” Sikora explained. “Like everybody else, even Tommy has underestimated himself. And he’s in a position right now, were he’s going to have to do more and grow into more of a leader.”
Being less than half way through the season, Tommy has already shown himself to be quite the delegate but what many wonder, how he can accomplished some of the tough demands brought upon him, especially the ones having to do with his friend of twenty-five years, Ghost. With the two main characters being at odds this season, the dynamic between them as enemies is just as strong as they were as brothers. Many viewers hope for reconciliation sooner than later but more importantly, to bring the two back together as family. Sikora said the relationship is not going to be an easy fix.
“I don’t know if it’s repairable in a sense that they can get back together and be as they were. But they can take that 25 years, that love that they share and that brotherhood that brought them thus far and they can rediscover it. But I don’t think that it’s something that can be repaired. It has to grow from the beginning again.”
Speaking of relationships, the dynamic between Tommy and Holly, played by Lucy Walters, is insane to say the least. Every drug dealer needs a ride or die chick and for Sikora’s character, that’s Holly. Their chemistry together is undeniable but the toxicity of their relationship is inevitable. Between the sex, lying, sneaking around, and both of them participating in sampling the product, its best that they stay clear from each other but through it all, Tommy and Holly always seem find their way back together. “It’s exciting, it’s sexy, it’s all the things that we look for when we’re in those first couple of breathtaking moments of a relationship,” said Sikora. “A very viable thing is that she’s shown herself to Tommy to be trustworthy because she chose love over money, and she chose companionship over freedom, both of those things Ghost facilitated. Tommy wants to rebuild his life with the family that he feels he’ s lost with the St. Patricks and he thinks Holly is his opportunity to do that. Like Tommy, Joseph Sikora has been in a relationship with a woman similar to Holly as well, but he’s happily married now with a family of his own, including the one he has with his cast mates outside of filming and press junkets. “Well Omari and I are very close, very good friends. Lela and I are good friends and Naturi and I have vacationed together a couple of times. I hang out with 50 every now and again but he’s the busiest guy in the business. I really have nothing but love and admiration for everyone around me.”
Having that family dynamic conveyed between Tasha (Naturi Naughton), Ghost, and Tommy, with the actors on and off screen gives authenticity to a fictional life. It’s always a bonus to get along with the people you work with but Sikora says it’s that very ensemble feeling, as one of the reasons Power is successful.
“One of my teachers would say, you can’t quantify non quantifiables. Things can’t be kind of unique or very unique. It’s just unique or it’s not,” Sikora said. “Our show is just unique because it’s a love story between two brothers. Watching men love each other and the dynamics in the relationship and the love between two men in this way is not on television other than in Power and it’s an exciting thing to be able to explore and show the world.”
Watching the show, some might say Sikora and Tommy share certain characteristics like troubled pasts, temper, etc. In a lot of ways Sikora agrees that Tommy does he mirrors him but also think in a lot of ways Tommy has not yet evolved as a person as he’s decided to be because as far as Tommy’s concerned things are working good as they are. Also Sikora he’s a little more fearful where as Tommy is fearless and more forthcoming. He finds Tommy as a fun character to play and looks at him as the comic relief which makes him a well rounded character that’s exciting to watch. However there is one key character trait Joseph Sikora is not.
“Tommy is very volatile. Sometimes Tommy scares me,” said Sikora. “I watch the show and I’m like that’s a very different man than I am but he’s someone I would want on my side because when he loves you, he loves you and you can tell.”
In a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune, Sikora’s father said he had “arrived.” With the new found fame of the show, many would share the same sentiments as well. However, Sikora isn’t quite sold on that argument.
“I don’t know about arrived. I think my dad also means that I’m finally making a living acting,” Sikora explained. “My parents don’t have to worry about me. He can now be like my son has a career and I don’t have to worry about my kid. With the help of his wife and family Joseph Sikora stays grounded and when he’s not working, lives his life day to day very similar to any normal person. He’s usually back in Brooklyn, taking care of his 18 year old blue heeler. His wife and him feed their dog raw meals such as minced organic chicken, a semi cooked carved sweet potato or brown rice along with minced celery, or kale or spinach. He also finds time in his busy schedule of fittings and filming to simply read. He’s currently reading The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. Most importantly, Sikora loves discovering new things everyday in NYC. He and his wife take the ferries everywhere and he even goes fishing.
“At some point I would love to go to Outer Uzbekista,” said Sikora. “ I would either go by myself or take a very adventurous friend.”
Many would be surprised to know that Joseph Sikora loves to cook and he shared one of his favorite dishes he whips up in the kitchen. “It’s a flank steak marinated in soy sauce, and I usually do it for the night. Rub it twice in brown sugar, initially you rub it in brown sugar so the soy sauce and the brown sugar, that sweet and salty. Then you grill that and it creates this sweet and savory crust on the meat. Then I take my mom’s potatoes, Barbara’s potatoes, potatoes and onions dish with plenty of butter and sea salt and pepper. So that’s my favorite meal with a true Caesar salad, with anchovies and egg, and real shredded parmesan , romaine lettuce, a little lemon zest, and olive oil. I always tell my mother if I’m ever on death roll and they ask you, this is what I want my last meal to be.”
With as many sex scenes he’s in, Sikora stays in the gym. He mainly does a mix between cardio and light weights, never going beyond squatting 225 pounds. He even tries boot camp DVDs and take classes at the gym. His main objective is to keep toned for the show. “I’m not even trying to compete with Omari,” Sikora said jokingly. “ I usually power walk at 10% incline, walk at 4.5 miles an hour for 4 minutes. Then Jog at 6.2 for 1 minute. Then go back down and do it all over again until I burn 551 calories which is just because I like that number.”
With all the success and hard work, Joseph Sikora is now a household name but says it’s all due to him never giving up that has gotten him this far. His main advice for upcoming young actors is to never give up on your dreams.”If it’s your calling don’t ever give up but really think long and hard if this is your calling because it’s very difficult, and it could be very lonely and emotionally challenging life but if it’s your calling you have to do it but if it’s not do something else.” With the show maintaining its success, Sikora will be busy filming for seasons four and five. Sikora is also playing a supporting role in the remake of Jacob’s Ladder starring Michael Ealy and Jessie Williams. He hopes to reprise his role in WGN’s Underground but isn’t quite sure if his schedule will permit that. To keep in touch with Joseph Sikora, be sure to follow him on social media.
Written by: Kyree Shockley