When you star in a movie that has grossed $25.7 million in its first weekend, not much can get you down. For Bow Wow, who is featured in the latest Tyler Perry comedy Madea’s Big Happy Family, not even querying the budding film star about his status with rap behemoth Cash Money can get a rise out of the youthful yet veteran star, Yes, rumors that the artist formerly known as Mr. 106 & Park was being dropped by Birdman and crew were dismissed. Still whispers of the 24-year-old bowing-out from the house that Lil Wayne built persist. But Bow Wow insist that life has never been better for the former pubescent rap child star turned big screen staple. And who could argue?–Keith Murphy
VIBE: There seems to be a lot of adlibbing going on in the new Madea’s Big Happy Familymovie. How much improvising did you and the other actors do on the set?
Bow Wow: We definitely had a lot of fun. Tyler gave us flexibility and room to exaggerate and improv a little bit, here and there. Tyler will just switch it up in a middle of a scene. He will say, ‘Just do it differently like this…’ There’s a scene with me mocking my baby’s mother and which was Tyler’s idea for me to do that. He gives you different things and let’s you run with it.
There are several veteran actors in Perry’s new film. But Teyana Taylor and Isaiah Mustafa (the actor from the Old Spice commercials), who are both relatively new to the big screen, also have supporting roles. Did you give them any pointers?
I was there for Teyana. I’ve known her for so long, so I was there to let her know a few pointers here and there just to help her get in pocket. With Isaiah, I remember the first day he came to my trailer. I felt his vibe. And I felt everybody’s vibe once we got to the set. There was a bit of nervousness on the set, but I felt like since I had some experience and I’ve been around for a while doing this, even though I was younger than some of the guys, I felt like it was my job to step in and take charge a little bit.
Wow…did Perry give you co-directing duties?
[Laughs] I just wanted to make sure that everybody was comfortable. I wanted to let my cast mates know that if you mess up, it’s okay. I’m right here for you to rebound. I just wanted to make them feel comfortable and be loose. If you do that, nine times out of 10 you will make a great movie.
How did you first become involved in Madea?
I got involved when my agent gave me a call. He wanted me to go downstairs at a hotel to go to a table reading. I’m thinking that I’m just filling in for somebody, but Tyler had it in his head all along that I was his guy. I didn’t know that until after the table reading because I thought I sucked [laughs]. Once I left, I got a call like, ‘Hey man…you got the part.’ Myself and Tyler together for the first time? It’s only right.
You have always played both sides of the field in terms of being a recording artist and a film actor. What is the current status of your Cash Money deal given that there were rumblings that you were parting ways with the imprint?
You will definitely see a Bow Wow-Cash Money album. Trust me…it’s going to shake the world. The album cover alone is going to shake the world. But I’ll keep that in the bag.
Do you worry about how a Bow Wow album in 2011 will translate to hip-hop fans that have gone to more street-based MC’s like Rick Ross and your Cash Money peer/boss Lil Wayne?