The actor portraying Muhammad Ali on the Epix television series “Godfather of Harlem” might look familiar to some Privateers. That is because he’s University of New Orleans alumnus Deric Augustine.
Augustine, who earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from UNO in 2012, was first cast in the role of the iconic boxing champion last year and has returned for the second season, which is currently airing.
The period drama stars Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker as the infamous 1960s crime boss Bumpy Johnson.
“I’m in episodes two and three of this season, which revolves around Cassius Clay beating Sonny Liston and eventually changing his name to Muhammad Ali,” said Augustine, who grew up in New Orleans.
In preparation to play the role, Augustine said he not only took boxing lessons, but also watched interviews and listened to audio clips of Ali to study his voice, tone, movements, personality and other traits.
“Muhammad Ali was more than just a boxer. He was a humanitarian, civil rights advocate, anti-war protester and a charismatic celebrity,” Augustine said. “It was more than just the physical aspect of the character that makes it a difficult task; it was Ali's mannerisms, speech, confidence and style that I had to master. I wanted to be as authentic as I could while being as natural as possible.”
Augustine, who said he has been fascinated with acting since he was 13, also took theater classes at UNO while pursuing his business degree.
“My early studies in theater built the foundation of my acting career,” he said. “It also gave me a confidence boost knowing that I studied Shakespeare and other great playwrights.
“My business classes allow me to put myself in a position to be my own boss as I maneuver in the film/entertainment industry. I am also a writer and producer.”
His mother influenced his choice to major in business, Augustine said.
“She knew that I had to be business savvy to grow my brand,” he said.
Augustine has also appeared in commercials, the television series “Cloak and Dagger” and the video simulation game NBA 2K20.
As his acting portfolio grows, Augustine said he wants to share what he has learned with other budding performers.
“My goal is to hopefully teach an acting class at the University for a term every year,” Augustine said. “I would love a chance to give back to my alma mater and teach developing actors different techniques and valuable information I’ve learned throughout my career.”