Tonight, Starz debuts its latest family crime drama, BMF. Based on the story of how Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory and his brother Terry “Southwest T” Flenory became two of the most notorious drug dealers in history, Russell Hornsby, who plays the boys’ father, Charles, says the TV series adds important layers to the story that’s been told about the Flenory family in pop culture.

“I think it’s important for audiences to know that their parents were present,” Hornsby tells ESSENCE of the origin story that’s laid out in the show’s early episodes. “That their parents were working three and four jobs, that their parents were God-fearing, they were going to church, they were there, and that this was the period that the city let these folks down. They let the Flenorys down among other families in Detroit, Chicago, and Oakland.”

Russell Hornsby: ‘BMF’ Is A Story Of How Cities Across America Failed Black Families

Speaking to assumptions often made about parents whose children may turn to a life of crime, Hornsby adds, “The choices that kids make coming into adulthood are the choices that they make. People are thinking that the family failed. Society failed the family.”

Demetrius “Lil Meech” Flenory Jr. portrays his father in BMF with All American actor Da’Vinchi starring as Southwest T. Michole Briana White plays the brothers’ mother Lucille Flenory whom she and Hornsby met with as they shaped their characters behind the scenes. Though Hornsby didn’t meet with Charles in real life, he shares there’s a familiarity to the Flenory family story that made bringing him to life on camera relatively straightforward.

Russell Hornsby: ‘BMF’ Is A Story Of How Cities Across America Failed Black Families

“As a Black man growing up in America, I have to be honest about his plight because Charles’ plight represents my father’s plight, my uncle’s plight, and everything else. In knowing my father and his life, uncles, family members and their struggles, I, in turn, know who Charles Flenory is,” he says. “[My role is] about honoring and representing Charles and it’s about honoring and representing all those other men dealing and raising their families at the same time.”

Check out the full interview with Russell Hornsby and Michole Briana White in the video above. BMF airs on Starz Sunday nights at 9 pm ET/PT.