Urban Magazine June 2017 - Page 64

With such an impressive resume in both network television and the big screen, how do you make the determination on if a project is suitable for you? If I can connect right away when I read it, obviously I’m in right then and there. Sometimes that can take a little more convincing-- whether it is from managers, friends or even myself. Or talking to producers and asking where a project is going or what it really means helps. At this stage of the game, lots of great projects have come my way. Almost all of them I have wanted to be involved in. More often I am trying to find out what to do in order to make the jobs happen, as opposed to me saying no. I would love to get to that level where there are a million scripts coming in. Work begets work, so I take the job and hopefully someone really sees me for me and my talent for what it is. Then you have more of the freedom to pick and choose. How excited were you about joining the cast of Empire? Fill us in on how that came about. That was kind of a rollercoaster ride in terms of going back and forth with the character. My manager was on the phone with me every step of the way. I was clinging to this one tightly. A lot of auditions you go into-- you do a good job and hope that it translates to you landing the role. You can’t get too attached because you will go crazy. Not every job is for you, but I knew this one was for me. I literally felt as though they were stealing from me if someone else got the job. When I finally got the news that I landed the job, I was so excited. Before I even got the audition, I knew I wanted to be on the show. Luckily they had a role that I fit. To work with Terence Howard and Andre Royo personally, I was floored. Now we are colleagues- --I couldn’t stop smiling. I only started acting nine years ago, I never acted prior to that. To see some of my acting heroes in the flesh is a very cool experience. Was there any interaction with Kidada Jones in preparation for your role in All Eyes on Me? No, unfortunately not. I did as much research online as I could. I also picked the brains of people that were close to her, and knew their relationship well. I was fortunate to be on set with a lot of people that actually knew Tupac. A lot of the members of the Outlawz were on set. E.D.I. was able to fill me in on their relationship—Kidada’s behavior and demeanor. He was comforting, and a great help. The executive producer L.T. Hutton was as well. Snoop was there and also knew Kidada. I am thankful for all of them. It was a major team effort. Social media was not around at that time, so gathering information was not easy. The role you play was assumedly the last relationship that Tupac was involved in just prior to his death, what do you think viewers should take away from this depiction of his life and experiences? My personal experience on set was very emotional. I knew how it was going to end but I couldn’t play that out—even though it was sad and painful. I tell people that I love them every day. If you are hurt let people know and move on. In an instant that’s gone. We are never prepared for death, it is always too soon. The take away with this film for me is fact that we are still talking about Tupac now. He might not be here but his spirit, inspiration and music are still here. The impact he has had internationally makes me ponder the question of what people will say about you once you are no longer here. What are you doing to influence people even if it is just one person? URBAN | 64