IS MARYLAND WAY BEHIND IN THAT REGARD? Just as much as every other state. We do have a lot of after-school art programs, but they're mostly state-funded or privately-funded. A lot of community theaters and recreational centers keep these things going, because the arts really do empower kids and pique their interests to stay focused on a straight and narrow path. The ratio of kids that have come through the youth theater program where I taught, 60 percent of those kids went to college. Twenty percent got into the blue-collar working. Maybe 1 percent, if that much, has a criminal record.

WERE ALL OF THE KIDS ON SEASON FOUR NON-PROFESSIONALS, THEN? Non-professionals in the sense of not having their equity or Screen Actors' card. But they were professionally trained. Most of the kids who had speaking lines were from the Arena Youth Players, where I taught, and some very small percentage from the School of the Arts. The young man who played Sherrod [Bubbles's young sidekick from the fourth season], Rashard Orange, he's one of my own students, and his sister, Rekiyah Orange, she played Clarice, one of the girls in the classroom.

I READ THAT YOU ALSO WORKED WITH THE FOUR — The four young leads, yes.

AT LEAST ONE OF THOSE FOUR — TRISTAN WILDS, WHO PLAYED MICHAEL LEE — HAS GONE ON TO PRETTY GOOD SUCCESS IN THE ACTING WORLD. He's been more successful than the other three, but all four of them are continuously working. Maestro Harrell [as Randy Wagstaff] and Julito McCullum [as Namond Brice] are always getting small parts on television shows and movies. It's just that the movies aren't that popular or mainstream, but they're constantly working. And Jermaine Crawford, the young man who played Dukie, is just getting his feet wet. He was just on Person of Interest, a new series. He just moved out to California. He was finishing college, so now he's ready for LA and everything else. His parents were strict about that.

YOU ALSO WORKED WITH "SNOOP" PEARSON? Felicia. Felicia is a go-getter. That young lady is so determined — she's had a lot of ups and downs in her life, but when she sets her mind to something, she's going to do it. And she really has fallen in love with film and television. And had she not met Michael K. Williams [who played Omar] at a nightclub, she would never have gotten the chance to do this.

IS THAT HOW THEY FOUND HER? Yeah, he was dancing, and she was dancing, and he was like, "Who is this person?" Because she had that contagious personality. He said "I got to introduce you to my bosses on the show."

WHY DO YOU THINK ACADEMIA IS SO ENTHRALLED WITHTHE WIRE? SEVERAL COLLEGES TEACH CLASSES ON IT . . . That bewilders me. It's a powerful show, something you've never seen before in television history — yeah, I can agree with that. But to have such an interest in it, I guess it's just a small town that you've never been in and you've never met folks like that. So I guess that's the interest. It's a small pocket of society that we've never seen, never heard of, and never realized that that's what they went through. And if that's the case, then America's really blind, because you have that in almost every city in the country. There are small pockets of ghettos and urban life that have that. All of them are distinctive in dialect and attitudes and everything else, and maybe Baltimore just struck a chord with [academics] because it was the first time it'd been presented realistically and truthfully. But the classes escape me, why they would want classes, truthfully.

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