He made his film debut in the movie 'Roll Bounce,' opposite Bow Wow, Nick Cannon and Meagan Good, but it was his role as Alpa Chino – the rapper with an energy drink called Booty Sweat – in 'Tropic Thunder' that put him on the map.
Having just starred in 'Lottery Ticket' and with 'Big Momma's House 3' on the horizon, BV Buzz caught up with the 26-year-old actor-comedian recently to discuss his rise to stardom.
While we sat in his hotel suite at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, the Detroit-bred talent talked about being a preacher's kid, who he'd like to play in a biopic and whether he'll continue to do stand-up comedy.
You're the child of a clergyman and you guys catch a bad rap! How have you kept yourself from getting into trouble and becoming the stereotypical preacher's kid?
I can't say I haven't been caught up. I've had strippers rob me. This world is a dirty place, but at the same time it always comes back. I'm not the perfect guy; if y'all want that then fine. You can holla at Nick Cannon for that. The thing is I tell the truth about life, and that's just what I do, but it is tough. My dad is here in town now, and I went to see my movie with him. The toughest thing is when I'm in the theater and the first thing that comes on the screen is Booty Sweat. I was like, "I forgot about this part in the film." When I was doing 'Tropic Thunder,' and I cuss in this movie, too, its entertainment! I like to tell stories about things that have happened to me. All I'm doing is documenting my life through time. Nobody is perfect and I think it's almost like what the Bible says, "Bear all your sins on God." I do that, too, and I tell you about what happens in my life.
Is it a struggle to balance your faith with decisions you have to make as a Hollywood star?
The stories that we go through are the same stories in the Bible. There's nothing new under the sun. You have to look at Solomon, who had over 300 wives or Jacob, who worked seven years for one girl and worked another seven for another woman. There's nothing wrong with telling your story, because everybody has their own story, and I'm gonna tell the story that is put in front of me. My faith is always balanced with trust that God is going to pull me through my journey in life.
Now that you're getting all of this film work, how often do you get to do stand-up comedy?
I have been doing stand-up more often because I have to tell my story! Kevin Hart is cool. Chris Rock, he's cool. But it's time for me to tell my story!
You mentioned Kevin Hart and Chris Rock, but what other comics make you laugh? Who is funny to you?
I still like classic Eddie Murphy in 'Delirious.' I like Martin Lawrence in 'You So Crazy.' Will Smith makes me laugh. He used to study Eddie Murphy all day, every day so it all draws back from Eddie and Richard [Pryor].
Is your comedy clean like Sinbad's or do you curse like Chris and Kevin?
I curse if I want to curse and if I want to do clean, I can do clean. What is cursing? What is a curse word? What is an expression of a word? For Steve Harvey to do a clean joke and then go back and do it another way, there's no right way to tell a message. Stories keep life going. We learn lessons in the Bible from the negative and it's always gonna be yin and yang in life so we have to accept that. You just have to give people the opportunity to choose what they want to do in life. That's where my comedy comes from. You have to have a conscious.
You're working a lot in film. Would you ever do television?
I'm writing a TV show right now hopefully for HBO. It's a dope TV show. I got to tell my story, and I know I keep saying that. Like Bow Wow can tell his story about being a young kid who made it when he was younger or Ice Cube and NWA, I have to tell my story now. I want people to know what I represent in the world.
What is your story?
I'm the black man from the suburbs. I watched people go from being poor to surviving to being rich and living it. Poor people survive, and rich people live. I need to exploit that because my thing is that I'm tired of the separation. I'm tired of having to do this movie in life and then hopping over to do this movie and wonder why the market is different between the two. Once you see both sides of the spectrum, I wonder why we can't be in the ocean. I love the beach. That's the best thing about this movie is that we live it up. I represent what Diddy's kids or Lil' Wayne's kids are gonna be. My dad was the dude that worked hard so we wouldn't have to live in poverty. That's what Wayne's kids are gonna be, that's what Bow's kids are going to be and that's what Ice Cube's kids are. I represent your kids, your young people and what they feel.
Bob Marley. Maybe I shouldn't have said that yet.
Is that because you like the man or you just like weed?
Both! I like the man and the weed. Bob was a powerful man. I think he was a prophet. He knew what the world needed at the time. Just because you're under a church doesn't make you a man of God. You can be a man who walks the earth normally, but people don't see it because you're not hooping and hollering. I think about the people that God talks about in the Bible who never did all of that. They just lived their life, and God told stories about different men living their lives. You can't get mad at somebody's experiences.
Jackson is gearing up for the release of a mix-tape called 'Spank Me Later,' which spoofs rappers and their various songs.
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