All American: Homecoming is in the middle of its red-hot freshman season as the universe which started in Beverly Hills and Crenshaw is at an HBCU across the country.

Ahead of this week’s episode, Cory Hardrict, who plays Coach Marcus Turner, spoke with Shadow and Act about the season so far, his character, bringing representation to HBCUs and Black people in sports they’re historically priced out of— and more.

The no-nonsense Coach Turner is the head of Bringston University’s baseball team. Hardrict says diving into the role was pretty easy because it’s not that far from him in real-life.

‘I’m a disciplinarian with my son,” said Hardrict. “I train him with basketball, not baseball yet, we’ll probably get there [laughs]. But I train him every single day when I’m home. We train in the backyard. So it’s kind of like when I look at the baseball team, the MLB hopefuls with Damon Sims (Peyton Alex Smith) and JR (Sylvester Powell), it was really relatable to my relationship with my son. So I look at these as my kids even though I look young as well [laughs]. I look at them as my kids. It was like art imitates life. How do I bring my reality into this world and make it believable, make it real [and] make it encouraging and uplifting where people can relate to?”

On the tense-ish, tough love relationship that Turner shares with Damon, Hardrict told us that he simply wants the best for him.

“Sometimes [when] getting across to these younger kids, you have to show tough love,” he explained. “That’s how I was raised with my dad and my stepdad. This new generation, sometimes they want the instant gratification…they want the end result before they do the journey of the work. And I always try to instill that there’s a process to being great and having success. So, I’m trying to keep those principles strong and sometimes it takes a little ruffling up of the kids and a little tough love, but it all comes from a place of love. That’s how I look at it. This is the only way he knows how to do it, but he really cares for them and wants them to win in life and succeed. But for the most part, he wants them to be great men in this world and great Black men in this world and be future leaders who can go out and just lead by example. So that’s his main thing, not just getting to the league and making money and the cars, the flash…he wants to bring a little more substance than that they can carry for the rest of their lives. So that’s his job.”

One storyline in particular that has fans intrigued is the relationship between Coach Turner and Dr. Amara Patterson (Kelly Jenrette). It is something that Hardrict is interested in seeing play out as well.

“It’s going gonna heat up for sure,” the actor teased. “Everyone’s gonna understand our relationship and our backstory. We’ve had history for a long time prior. So everyone has been trying to figure out– ‘Is he the daddy?…Is that the mama?…Are they gonna get back together?’…and we just have to wait and see. But there’s history there, they do care for each other. I still feel that there’s some things that need to be worked out between Coach Marcus and Amara, but the love is there for them as well. She’s dealing with the younger guy and that kind of bothers me. I try to act like I don’t care, but deep down inside, I still have a thing for her and [want] see if there’s a possibility in the future with that.”

All American airs Monday nights on The CW.

Watch the full interview above in which Hardrict talks about the importance of the show’s topical storylines and characters, what he would want to see the show explore in a second season and much more.