Brooklyn-born underground artist, Danté “Mos Def” Smith, proves that “clever lyricist” isn’t the only trick he’s got under his belt. Danté debuted on-screen as young Richard Watkins in 1988’s God Bless the Child. He went on to appear in countless movies and TV shows including 16 Blocks, Be Kind Rewind, Cadillac Records, and Dexter. His portrayal of Vivien Thomas in Something the Lord Made was nominated for a Golden Globe and a Golden Satellite Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture. Smith is now residing in South Africa and there has been no word of any upcoming roles.
Rap mogul Sean Combs’s acting career started in 2001 with Monster’s Ball. There was little recognition until 2008 when Combs dominated the stage in A Raisin in the Sun on Broadway. Critics praised his performance as Walter Younger, a role that earned him nominations for a Golden Derby and Primetime Emmy Award. Combs shows he’s not set to one genre, recently venturing into comedy with the well-received Get Him to the Greek. His past projects include Carlito’s Way, Draft Day, and multiple TV shows.
Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., known to the world as “Common,” first wowed audiences with his 2006 film performance in Smokin’ Aces. He continued in many major blockbusters such as American Gangster, Terminator: Salvation, Wanted, and more, making him a top sought-out actor. Common later won an Academy Award plus a NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture” for his role as Bevel in the film Selma. Common will be back as Monster T in Suicide Squad, set to be released later this year.
Clifford “TIP” Harris first graced the motion picture screen in 2006 for the film ATL. T.I’s acting career took off and he was cast in American Gangster, Takers, Identity Theft, Ant Man and Get Hard. His natural charisma on-screen has proven successful, both in movies and on TV. Make sure to catch T.I in the newly revamped Roots mini-series on the History Network.
André “André 3000” Benjamin’s first big screen appearance was in 2003’s Hollywood Homicide. He was later cast in Four Brothers, Idlewild, and Semi-Pro, to name a few. Recently, 3000 brought life to the part of iconic guitarist Jimi Hendrix in Jimi: All Is by My Side (2013). Hendrix’s estate, however, wouldn’t release any of the original music to be used for production, leaving many holes in the plot. Critic reviews aside, André did an amazing job capturing the true essence of Jimi.
Ok, I know what you’re thinking…but let’s admit: 50 Cent has come a long way. Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson starred as himself in the autobiographical film “Get Rich or Die Trying.” It had a strong opening weekend, but Curtis needed more work. Fast-forward through multiple “Straight to DVD” flicks, minor roles and cameos, to 2011 with “All Things Fall Apart.” 50 Cent was Deon, an all-star high school football player diagnosed with cancer. If you remember, Jackson lost over 100 pounds for the part, prompting the media to rumor that he was actually sick. That’s dedication! He took part in Freelancers, The Prince, and the critically acclaimed South Paw. He currently commands the screen as the ever-resilient Kanan, and is the executive producer of one of my personal favorites our favorite shows right now, Power. Make sure to tune in for the upcoming season on Starz, premiering July 17.
James Todd Smith, known to the world as “LL Cool J,” is an unstoppable force on-screen. He started off in 1991’s The Hard Way as Billy. Over the next decade, LL had major success as an actor with his own TV series, In the House (1995) and movies such as Halloween H2O, In Too Deep, Any Given Sunday, SWAT, and more. He will also be in the upcoming 7th season of NCIS: Los Angeles, this fall on CBS.
O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson’s first role as an actor was in 1991’s Boyz n the Hood. However, director John Singleton confirms Jackson almost didn’t get the part because he didn’t stick to the script during auditions. This proved not to be a make it or break it move; Ice Cube was given the part and Boyz became a coming-of-age favorite. He then wrote and headlined in the 90’s classic, Friday. His movies include Three Kings, The Players Club, and Barbershop. Ice Cube formed his own production company, Cube Vision, solidifying his name as an entertainment industry multi-threat: actor, writer, director, and producer.
Emmy and Golden Globe winner, Dana “Queen Latifah” Owens began her acting career on a TV sitcom called Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Her acting career flourished as she was cast in movies such as Set if Off, The Bone Collector, and the 90’s series Living Single. Audiences were not blind to her progressive growth as an actress, especially with her role in the 2002 adaption of the Broadway musical, Chicago. Latifah was in charge as Matron “Mama” Morton; her performance was nominated for “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” at the 2003 Academy Awards.
Tupac Shakur is arguably one of the best rappers of all time. Most forget, however, that when he wasn’t spitting bars in the studio, he was running lines onstage. Tupac Shakur’s first movie was 1992’s Juice. He starred in films such as Poetic Justice, Gridlock’d, and Gang Related. In 1995, he was nominated for “Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture” at the NAACP Image awards. What’s remarkable is that Tupac was able to balance his music and acting simultaneously, releasing two albums and filming three movies within three years’ time. Director John Singleton later stated that the film Baby Boy was originally written with Tupac as the lead character, Jodi.
In 2007, Newsweek called Will Smith “The Most Powerful Actor in Hollywood,” which he definitely earned. He began his acting career on the sitcom, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which was wildly popular and caught the attention of casting directors everywhere. Smith was cast in big money films such as Independence Day, Men in Black, and Bad Boys. His blockbuster success reminds us that he is a force to be reckoned with. In 2002, Smith was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of the late Muhammad Ali, in the film Ali. Will Smith has become a household name as an outstanding actor, begging us to ask: “Where is this man’s Oscar?”
Got a favorite rapper/actor not listed here? Leave a comment below.
Article By: Liera Moore @Bingehangover
Editor: Connor “Co Co”
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