This is a big deal for John Singleton as well.
Oh yeah. When we first kicked off the film it was his anniversary of when he first shot Boyz in the Hood and when it came out in theaters so we documented that on camera. I’m sure it’s gonna be somewhere in the features. It’s also a picture with him coming back to the screen doing action, which he hasn’t done since Four Brothers and 2 Fast 2 Furious.
You’ve also lost a lot of weight since The Great Debaters. What was your motivation?
To become a new me. I’ve always been a heavier set kid growing up and it never really bothered me but I was never officially happy. I always had the desire to get in shape and become a new me. I wanted to transform my look and step up my acting game. And one thing about this business is people admire appearance just as much as they do talent. And with me knowing that, I said I want to be that leading man and that determination and dedication alone is what helped me get to the gym and I hired a personal trainer and since then it’s been this drive of me trying to bulk up and trying to lose weight and do it the natural and healthy way.
This might be too early to tell, but have you already seen a change in the types roles you’ve been getting?
With me I know it has affected my business. Number one I’m Black, I’m African American so there’s gonna be less roles me out there and of course there’s gonna be a tremendous amount of Caucasian roles out there unless we start creating our own so number one, I’m Black, number two, I was a little heavier than the rest of my peers so usually I was always getting the roles where I was eating a candy bar, the fat kid type of roles, and it hurts. It takes a toll on somebody as an actor playing those types of roles⎯to be type cast into a role knowing you want to do something better than that. A lot of times in this business we either write to stereotype or we write because it’s really out there.
And a lot of times some of the bigger, more heavy-set kids do get picked on all the time, they do get shunned and don’t get to participate in other things and then comes the stereotypes that they’re unproductive, they’re lazy and a lot of it is not true. But a lot of it is true. And I just don’t want to be a part of that anymore so that’s why I wanted to transform myself. And it happens in this business way too often. It’s happened to me in my early career and it only progresses as you get older. I never want to be typecast as the stereotypical Black man. I don’t want to be the one who has to put on a dress or has to be outrageously over-the-top even if it’s about problems with marriage and love and the destructive Black family⎯I’m done with those roles, we see it all too often in Hollywood. So with that being said, we either create our own projects or we choose a project that’s right for us. I really just try to choose content that’s going to inspire or really be worthwhile to something.
What’s your dream role?
I’m a big fan of Sci-Fi and action so of course anything of that nature. I always wanted to be Spider Man but I guess that dream didn’t come [Laughs]. With that being said I just love that genre, I love everything about it. I aspire to be an action star so something along those lines where it’s like Mission Impossible, Spider Man, Avatar, Terminator, Back to the Future. Those are some of my favorite movies so anything along those lines.
You mentioned illustration and cartooning. Will you ever create a cartoon or do more voice work?
It’s funny that you ask that question because I’m in development right now with a cartoon series that I’m developing and that I’ve hired some writers for and that’s the thing, we’ll have to see what happens within the next year or two and that’s what I was alluding to when I said we have to create our own content. I’m not just gonna sit around and wait for something to come to me. I’ve had this idea and I thought it could work and I really enjoy it. And just because I said I like Sci Fi and action doesn’t mean I won’t venture out into other areas too. I love comedy. Comedy is the one genre where anybody can sit down and just laugh and there’s always something out there for everyone’s interest. Not a lot of people laugh enough these days. And I do want to do a comedic cartoon series so that’s what I’m in development with.
What can you tell us about the cartoon?
It’s definitely satirical humor but I want to bring back some principles of some of the older cartoons too, like Doug. Think about it as Doug meets Family Guy.
Anything you want to add?
There was an interesting question that was asked the other day and it was, “What would you advise other people to do who want to follow in your footsteps?” And this goes back to what I was saying about me being the next Denzel, and it’s that as much as we admire the people we aspire to be, you should never admire them more than God himself or anybody, or whoever is the higher power you believe in, and what I’m trying to get to is that people ask me all the time how they can follow in my footsteps and literally, how I came into this business is complete randomness, like I explained earlier. It’s like, don’t walk in someone’s footsteps create your own. All too often creativity dies in this industry. I just want to see this new wave of new creative ideas and people coming out with something other than something that’s been done before.