Tray Chaney said his groundwork he laid in the years after HBO's "The Wire" ended has paved the way for the bevy of prominent television and movie roles he's taken on as of late. (Courtesy photo)
Tray Chaney said his groundwork he laid in the years after HBO's "The Wire" ended has paved the way for the bevy of prominent television and movie roles he's taken on as of late. (Courtesy photo)

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In the seven years after HBO’s “The Wire” ended, actor and D.C.-area native Tray Chaney, who played drug dealer-turned-shoes salesman Malik “Poot” Carr on the award-winning series, took to the streets of downtown D.C. to sell music and films he produced through his independent venture, Chaney Vision Entertainment. 

He said he did so after Hollywood executives, writers, producers, and directors were no longer calling his phone. 

At a time when social media had become a significant marketing tool,  Chaney built grassroots allure around himself, all while sharpening his acting skills under the auspices of Hollywood actress-director-producer Tasha Smith, auditioning for television and movie roles, and even appearing alongside rapper Meek Mill in the film “Streets.” 

That groundwork, he said, paved the way for the bevy of prominent television and movie roles he’s taken on as of late. 

“I took advantage of it all, whether people supported it or not. As long as you’ve seen me, and as long as I was able to be right in front of you,” Chaney said. “It did nothing for me but help because the more people were talking about it, whether they [asked] if I fell off, it was still bringing attention, and that attention led to the right attention.” 

During the latter part of June, Chaney will appear in Keyshia Cole’s Lifetime biopic, “Keyshia Cole: This is My Story” as A&R executive Andre Lee. That role follows his appearances on Starz’s “BMF”  as Bleek, a drug kingpin who rebuffs the Black Mafia Family’s attempt to collaborate. 

Another role of note for Chaney is that of Kent, a character in Janine Nabers and Donald Glover’s “Swarm” who strikes up a conversation with Dre, played by Dominique Fishback, in a strip club. TV aficionados may also recognize Chaney as Gordon Hawk, a narcotics task force member on the HBO series, “We Own This City.” 

Last year, Chaney landed the role of Bleek on “BMF” after the release of his song, “New Heights,” in which he asks BMF director and hip-hop artist/entrepreneur Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, “When you gonna put me on the BMF screen?” In the same song, he referenced George Pierre, a casting director who later called Chaney in to audition for season 2 of “BMF.”  

As Chaney explained, the rest was history. 

Chaney and Pierre’s relationship goes back as far as 2015, when Pierre called Chaney, who he met during his audition for “Stomp the Yard,” to appear in BounceTV’s “Saints & Sinners,” a primetime television soap opera about the members of a Baptist church in Georgia. Pierre wanted Chaney to play the role of Kendrick Murphy, the son of Rex Fisher, played by Clifton Powell and Lady Ella, played by Vanessa Bell Calloway. 

Upon accepting the opportunity to audition for “Saints & Sinners,” Chaney renewed his registration with the Screen Actors Guild. Soon after touching down in Atlanta, Chaney clinched the role and later appeared in the “Saints & Sinners” season 1 finale. Producers later asked him to play Murphy throughout the rest of the six-season television series. 

For Chaney, “Saints & Sinners” changed the trajectory of his post-”The Wire” career. For one, not only did he get to work with Powell, Calloway, and Christian Keyes, he also reunited with his “The Wire” co-star J.D. Williams. 

At the behest of his wife, Chaney later moved them and their son to Atlanta, where he had already spent much of his time on the set of “Saints & Sinners.”  He said it was in Atlanta, often referred to as the Hollywood of the South, where he’s gotten to flourish as an actor. 

“It’s perfect for somebody like myself who’s already a hustler, Chaney said. “I believe in manifestation [and] being in the right rooms, being around the right people making connections. Being a mover and shaker out here, it was like I brought my hustle from Forestville, Maryland.” 

Through Chaney Vision Entertainment, Chaney has produced several films, the most recent of which being “The Naughty Christmas.” On the music front, Chaney has shown his lyrical prowess on albums titled “The Curriculum,” “S.A.M. (Strictly About Music), and “Chaney Vision Dreams Vol. 1.” 

Along the way, Chaney continues to work with David Printis Jr. and Torrence “Oogie Leo” Hall Jr., both of whom posted up with him selling merchandise early on in his journey. Chaney also acknowledges his business partner, Brett Rosen of RB Capital Partners, Inc.  

In speaking about his work ethic, Chaney pays homage to D.C., a city he says that, once it hosts the production of the right blockbuster film, can become a media powerhouse for homegrown talent. 

“D.C. is already a mecca. It just hasn’t been fully tapped in all the way to the point where major productions are coming in to film all local talent,” Chaney said. “D.C. is one of those cities you can identify [a person from there] if they move to Atlanta, New York or Los Angeles. It’s the way we carry ourselves. I speak from experience, because that was real life for me.”

Sam P.K. Collins has more than a decade of experience as a journalist, columnist and organizer. Sam, a millennial and former editor of WI Bridge, covers education, police brutality, politics, and other...

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