Premiere Of Universal Pictures And Amblin Entertainment's "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" - Arrivals Premiere Of Universal Pictures And Amblin Entertainment's "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" - Arrivals
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Justice Smith Discusses 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom's Hidden Messages

VIBE chatted with the rising actor about the film's "mysticism" and the type of roles he'd like to play in the near future.

The first thing that comes to mind when you hear Justice Smith's name is his signature role in the hit Netflix series, The Get Down. The Cali native played Ezekiel, the smooth poet who loved reading books and reciting lyrics with his hip-hop crew based in '80s New York City.

Smith drowned himself in that character and felt the more he was becoming Ezekiel the less he was being his true self. “As I'm getting dressed as Zeke, I become Zeke. As soon as I got into costume, I would be in dialect and in voice the entire 16 hours we were on set and I did that every single day because I felt it wouldn't be genuine otherwise,” he told Vulture in 2016.

The 22-year-old takes his craft seriously and is always in search of the next best role that’s going to challenge his talents. To keep in line with diversifying his portrayals, Smith's role in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a stark difference from what he’s previously done. Smith plays the nerdy Franklin Webb, who whines and always gets picked on by dino-doctor Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda). Webb is part of the good guys in the film, whose sole mission is to save the dying dinosaur species while others are trying to clone them to make a profit.

Smith joins Chris Pratt (Owen Grady), Bryce Dallas Howard (Claire Dearing) and Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) on their quest to save these creatures. Yet it almost seems ludicrous to want to save something that could potentially kill you, as evidenced in the movie.

But that’s the whole message behind the story—every living thing deserves to move freely in this world without fear of death.

“That’s the moral question of the movie. These animals weren’t supposed to exist in present day. They were not supposed to be here,” Smith says to VIBE. “We created them out of greed, out of lust for money, and now they are about to be extinct. They are being wiped out again by a natural cause and to be saved again when it was our mistake in the first place to make them. I think that’s what the audience has to ask themselves.”

VIBE chatted with Smith about the film's "mysticism" and the type of roles he'd like to play in the near future.

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VIBE: What drew you to play Franklin Webb. He seems so different from what you previously played in the Get Down. I feel like Ezekiel is a lot cooler than Frank is. (Laughs)
Justice Smith: 
That is true, I don’t think Frank and Ezekiel would get along. I’ve always wanted to play different characters. That’s always what I’ve set out to do in my career, and I’m fortunate enough to be able to do that at the start of my career so that was a big draw for me. Also, the franchise meant a lot to me as a kid. I don’t think I would pass up the opportunity to be a part of it.

Describe the moment you received that call, what was the audition process like?
I sent an audition video, and they liked it. Then they wanted me to fly out to London to do a screen test, and unfortunately, I couldn’t do it because I was doing this play at the time. Then they asked me to come for a callback, and I was like, "Wow that was a huge leap." And now, here I am talking to you. (Laughs)

What type of research did you do to get into Frank’s character?
I just allowed myself to be open to the process of being on the set of a blockbuster film. It’s completely different from being on a television set, so besides re-watching the original film, I kind of just came to set open to see what was going to happen; open to playing, open to improvisation. It was a different process for Frank’s character.

How did that process challenge you as an actor?
I had to do a lot of stunts, which I’ve never really done before. That was a whole new challenge, and I realized I really like doing stunts. It really helps me get out of my head. It's fun and it makes me feel young again although I’m still very young. It was cool to find a new love for a whole new art form, so to speak.

What was it like working with Chris Pratt, he’s hilarious.
He’s great, he’s the funniest guy. He’s really down to earth too, he talks to everyone like they are a person. A lot of times with people of that caliber things go to their head, but Chris is very level-headed. He’s a people’s person.

Did he give you any advice?
I learned a lot from him by example, just the way he carries himself on set. When you’re in the lead of a movie it really sets the tone for the rest of the crew. So seeing how positive he was, and how open he was, friendly, serious about the work, inspired me to also be that way. To have fun to take the work seriously, be collaborative. I’m fortunate and grateful for that.

What talent qualities did you pick up from Jurassic World?
I was playing a role with comedic relief, which was difficult because I don't really know how to be funny on purpose. I feel like I can do it conversationally but to actively be funny is beyond me. I realized that when I would just play it truthfully in a heightened way it came across very funny, and I got a good response from doing that.

Did you improvise?
Yes, I did. [Director ] J.A. Bayona really encouraged improvisation, and Chris also improvised all the time so it was hard not to just improvise back with him. There's one line in the movie when the earthquake first starts happening in the bunker, I'm up against the wall, and I scream "Why am I here!" That was improvised.

What are your thoughts on the film's activism component?
I think that’s why a lot of audience members come to see Jurassic Park because it’s a parallel to our own reality, and environmental and animal rights activism. That’s the nugget of truth in the film; amid all this action and suspense there is something there that connects with people.

What do you hope the audience will feel after watching Jurassic World?
I hope they feel it pays homage to the original movie, that it exceeds their expectations because there is something about this film that separates itself from the others. It has a sense of grandiosity and mysticism. That’s the difference from the other Jurassic Parks. I think people would be satisfied with the scenes that they come to see, but also be excited to see a change of pace.

What's a future role you’d like to play next?
Hamlet (laughs), I’ve always wanted to play Hamlet.

Why Hamlet?
I see a lot of productions where Hamlet is played by someone who is 35 when Hamlet is a 19-year-old kid. I think that while I’m young I probably should play Hamlet too. I feel like to understand his actions in that play, you have to understand what it’s like to be that age, or close to that age.

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50 Cent And Kenya Barris Developing TV Series Based On 'The 50th Law'

Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson is teaming up with actor and director Kenya Barris to create a television series based on Jackson's New York Times bestseller, The 50th Law, co-written by author Robert Greene. The Power executive producer and black-ish creator will join forces to create an original show that will stream on Netflix. No word on its premiere date or who has been cast for the series.

In true, 50 Cent fashion, Jackson took to his official Instagram to celebrate and share the news. "Netflix now you know this is a problem, Kenya Barris is no joke," reads his post's caption. "And if me and you ain’t cool, you ain’t gonna make it. 😆Let’s work! 💣Boom🔥 🚦GreenLight Gang #bransoncognac #lecheminduroi #bottlerover"

Jackson will serve as co-producer by way of his G-Unit Film & Television company which has a hand in Starz's Power Book II: Ghost and ABC's For Life. Barris will work alongside his #blackAF co-executive producer Hale Rothstein for the pilot and show's script under his production company, Khalabo Ink Society.

Speaking of Khalabo Ink Society, Barris' and his company will have a hand in a couple of upcoming projects: Kid Cudi's upcoming adult animated music series, Entergalactic and MGM's upcoming biopic on the career and life of comedy legend, Richard Pryor.

Fif's G-Unit Film & Television imprint, more original programming is on the way: Power Book III: Raising Kanan premieres this summer and Black Mafia Family has begun shooting its series debut. His current shows —Power Book II; and For Life—have been renewed for another season on Starz and ABC, respectively.

Jackson and Greene's The 50th Law is a semi-autobiographical book that tackles lessons around fearlessness and strategy while including inspiring stories from 50 Cent's life and tales from notable historical figures. It went on to be a New York Times Bestseller in 2009.

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Photos by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images and Gilles Petard/Redferns

Questlove Is Directing A Sly Stone Documentary

The Roots' own Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson will be directing a documentary about the life of Sly Stone, founding member of legendary funk band, Sly and the Family Stone.

The untitled feature film "follows the story of the influential artist, king of funk, and fashion icon Sly Stone, a musician who was breaking all the rules at a time when doing so was extremely challenging, even dangerous. The pressure of explosive mainstream pop success and the responsibility of representing Black America forced him to walk the fine line of impossible expectations."

“It goes beyond saying that Sly’s creative legacy is in my DNA," said Questlove in a press release. "....it’s a black musician’s blueprint....to be given the honor to explore his history and legacy is beyond a dream for me.”

“Sly’s influence on popular music and culture as a whole is immeasurable, and what his career represents is a parable that transcends time and place,” expressed Amit Dey, Head of MRC Non-Fiction. “Questlove’s vision, sensitivity and reverence brings the urgency that Sly’s story and music deserve, and we’re excited to be working with him to bring Sly’s story to life.”

The project will mark the four-time Grammy Award-winning artist's second directorial project (see his Sundance award-winning Summer of Soul) by way of his Two One Five Entertainment production company. Award-winning actor and rapper Common will serve as an executive producer via his Star Child Productions along with Derek Dudley and Shelby Stone via ID8 Multimedia. Derik Murray and Brian Gersh of Network Entertainment will serve as producers with Zarah Zohlman and Shawn Gee as producing partners.

The film's official title and release date has not been announced.

Earlier today in partnership with BET Digital and Sony Music's “This Is Black” Black History Month campaign, an animated music video for the group's 1968 hit single, "Everyday People." Revisit the classic song down below.

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FX's 'Hip-Hop Uncovered' Shows How Big U, Deb Antney, Haitian Jack, Bimmy & Trick Trick Hustled The Game With Street Savvy

Rarely do the strong survive long enough to tell their story in their own words, so bear witness to some of the most notorious deal makers and street shakers in FX's new docu-series Hip-Hop Uncovered. Hailing from hardcore locations all over the map, California's Eugene "Big U" Henley, Queens, New York siblings James "Bimmy" Antney and Deb Antney, Detroit's Trick Trick and Brooklyn's infamous Haitian Jack, represent the mind and the muscle of the rap world's background boss section, where the real money and moves are made.

After last week's two-episode debut (Feb. 12th) of a six-episode season, we have the cast member's thoughts on what it was like taping the show and why they participated in the series. Remember, these storied behind the scenes executives are normally in the background, but are now telling their important stories that weave their importance in the industry that shapes the world...hip-hop.“A true dime is steel-heavier than a dollar.” Watch Hip-Hop Uncovered Fridays at 10 pm ET on FX.

Deb Antney: "By doing the show, it was very therapeutic. I’ve opened up and let you get a glance of what is in my Pandora’s box. I’ve shed pounds, even inches. I’m truly grateful I’m here to tell any part of my story. Now get ready for my book Unmanageable Me.

The show allowed me to showcase my truth the way it needed to be told. The Debra Antney way!

Being Debra Antney was not always glitter or gold. Like most, I went through some things. I was defiantly a product of my environment, it made me who I am today! I always knew how to get myself to the top and that’s exactly what I did. Thank you for being a part of my journey."

 

 

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Big U: "I loved filming this show. It brought up so many memories going back to the house I grew up in, remembering those special moments with family. It was fun to sort of relive my past, but the best part was really seeing my evolution. I’m such a different man today than I was back then. I feel good that the world will get to see the person I’ve become. I did it because for the first time, I knew I could be in full control of my own story, especially since I’m an Executive Producer on the series."

 

 

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Trick Trick: "[Taping the series was] weird as f---!! Because, I’m not used to that type of attention. I’m very private, but oddly enough, it was somewhat... refreshing!

[I did the show] because Big U called.”

Bimmy:

"Well, I choose to do the series because I was told who was involved from the cast to an all-Black production. Taping was like me living my past all over again and we show[ed] the world how we really lived and the things we went through."

Haitian Jack: "Taping the series, to me, was definitely a great experience.  Everybody that was on there, [producers] Oby, Rashidi and everyone else were very polite to everyone and we got everything we asked for.  When you have a crew like that, it makes it really easy for you to work with it.

[I did the show because] I like when they started to say, 'Let’s dig back into the past,' because that’s what my life is all about, the past.  The fact that Big U came up with it and hit me up with it is another reason because I respect what he is doing out there with the kids and his foundation. So I didn’t mind teaming up with him and everybody else, Deb and Trick Trick, Bimmy. I think we have a great cast and I’m proud to be a part of it.  I think we did it because we all knew where hip-hop came from because we lived it.  We wasn’t just some people who just popped up out of nowhere and started blogging about it. We were there.  We watched the deaths, we watched the lifetime prison sentences.  We lost a lot of friends to death and prison. We all lived it.  They are going to get a good account of what went on in the 70s and 80s."

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