Walking in the footsteps of a living legend can be a daunting task, especially when there are familial ties that place a direct link between oneself and said figure. Yet, such is the case for Demetrius “Lil Meech” Flenory Jr., the lone son of Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory Sr.
A convicted kingpin, Big Meech is famous (or infamous, depending on who’s telling the story) for overseeing the Black Mafia Family, one of the most notorious drug distribution networks in the country during its reign. In addition to his presence in the streets, Big Meech’s legacy also looms large over Hip-Hop. The impresario launched BMF Entertainment in the early-aughts and built relationships with superstars including Jeezy, Diddy, Fabolous, T.I., Jay-Z, Foxy Brown and others. While Big Meech was unable to fully realize his aspirations in the world of entertainment, as he’s currently serving a 30-year federal prison sentence for operating a continual criminal enterprise, Lil Meech has grabbed the baton. The 21-year-old jumpstarted his acting career this year by portraying his father in the 50 Cent-produced Starz series, BMF.
Based on the rise of his father and uncle, BMF cofounder Terry “Southwest T” Flenory, the series doesn’t seek to have Lil Meech’s artistry imitate life, but instead reflect it toward the audience. Having the story of your family’s history packaged for mass consumption is one thing, but being a central figure in that story’s retelling is another. Yet Lil Meech has made the adjustment seamlessly.
Despite having no previous acting credits under his belt, the younger Meech has earned rave reviews for his performance as his father. Tapped by Executive Producer 50 Cent himself, who facilitated his move to L.A. and enrolled him in acting classes, Lil Meech captured the hearts of viewers throughout the first season of BMF. The small screen newcomer displayed a dramatic presence that left critics convinced he’s a star in the making. With a second season of BMF already on his schedule and a slate of other high-profile roles on the horizon, Lil Meech is primed to build upon the legacy of his father, all while establishing his own.
VIBE spoke with the young actor about portraying his father onscreen, being under the mentorship of 50 Cent, his plans to infiltrate the entertainment industry, and what else he has in store for his acting career.
VIBE: Can you talk about how the opportunity to become involved with BMF came about?
Lil Meech: Yeah, so about two-and-a-half years ago, my dad told me that 50 [Cent] was gonna be having a BMF [project] and either he wanted to do a movie or a TV series. So, at that time, it was just a thought like, “Damn, 50 doing a show,” but then when I met 50 in Atlanta, he wanted me to play my dad. He wanted to put me in acting classes in L.A. so I could learn for a year-and-a-half the foundation of acting.
So, that’s how it came about. 50 was the first one to believe in me, the first one to bring it to me, the first one to do all of that. He made sure that I moved from Miami to L.A. and took my acting classes for a year-and-a-half; five days a week, two times a day sometimes. And he made sure I learned how to act before I could just go for the audition of [playing] my father.
How would you describe your relationship with 50 Cent and the impact he’s had on your life?
My relationship with him is literally like he’s a big brother to me. He’s like my mentor [and] big brother/best friend/dad. He always calls me his other son. At the end of the day, he still checks up on me just to see how I’m doing mentally before he wants to know how I’m doing on work and stuff. So, he really just always calls me just to give me advice and give me game on whatever I need… He’s really the big brother I never had.
Your father was affiliated with a lot of artists, who are some of the artists who have reached out and you’ve kept in touch with over the years?
My dad had a lot of artists that were friends, but 50 was the only one that did. My dad looked out for a lot of people, but 50 didn’t know my dad like that. He and my dad weren’t the best of friends on the street, so for him to come and do more than what my dad’s homies did and people who my dad looked out for did, it just shows what type of person he is. 50 always wanted to see my win, see my dad win and he ain’t even know us like that… He’s genuine.
BMF has been a big hit with viewers and on social media. What’s it been like seeing the positive feedback, especially with this being your first role?
It feels great just ‘cause I remember putting blood, sweat and tears into this, and seeing people love it and talk about it every day just warms my heart. And I know my dad is proud and I know my family is proud ’cause we wanted to make the best show possible and [be] as authentic as possible. This is all my dad ever wanted, for people to know the real story and the real him and not just what people heard. So, this is it right here.
What would you say are the most interesting things you learned about your father and family during this process?
The most interesting [thing] is probably just to be out, it don’t matter what state or city I’m in, somebody will always come up to me and tell me how my dad looked out for them. And how he took care of them and how they were able to pay whatever because he gave them that. So, it was just so much good and positivity that he put out into the world… People that he didn’t even know, he just wanted to see with something. He wanted to see everybody happy. So, it’s crazy sometimes hearing stories of how people be saying, “Your dad really looked out for me, your dad did this for me.” So, that just shows me what type of person he is. That’s what makes me wanna take care of him even more and make sure he’s good and never has to work at all when he comes home.
What were your most memorable or funny moments during this experience?
Funny memory… probably Snoop Dogg. His whole time on set, he gave the whole set life every day, literally. He had everybody laughing. He’s just so fun and so full of life. [He’s] always giving everybody game, too, but it was just so fun being on set with him ’cause he’s just got his whole… Snoop Dogg is just a whole ‘nother vibe. Whoever he’s with, he’s gonna make you laugh and you’re gonna have a good time.
Being that your father was involved in the rap game and he had his label, have you ever thought about going into the music side of entertainment?
Oh, for sure. I wanna do my own BMF [management company] to where we get to sign producers, rappers, actors, athletes, whatever we want, but I’ma have it already set up to where my dad can take over the business. I already got a manager who manages football athletes and basketball players and all types of different people, so we’re already creating our own company and our own business to where we can have anybody [from] any walk of life that wants to come under BMF management.
What would you say has been the most challenging thing during this transition and being on a hit TV show?
It’s a whole different lifestyle. Obviously, some people feel like, “Oh, he just got the role ’cause he’s his dad’s son,” but now I get to show people that I really put the work in and ain’t nothing was given. 50 made sure I earned it, that’s why he respects me more now. So, it’s different now just being in the acting world ’cause this is a real business, you gotta be really on your A-Game and now I get to show people not only I can play my dad, I can play any different role ’cause I got more than one movie and TV series that’s coming out. So, I just show people my range and show people how far I can go.
You were speaking on your upcoming projects, what are some of the things fans can look out for and expect from you for the rest of this year and moving into 2022?
2022, definitely be expecting Euphoria. I just did a TV series called Euphoria with Zendaya, it’s on HBO. Definitely look out for that, it’s gonna be big. I just did a movie with Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox, that’s gonna be pretty big, too, and I’m doing a couple other things I got in the works right now that’s gonna come out, it’s gonna be pretty big. I can’t wait for everybody to see. Coming soon.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.