All Eyez On Me star, Demetrius Shipp, Jr. chatted with JETmag.com about his breakout role at the 21st annual American Black Film Festival.
All Eyez On Me, the long-awaited Tupac Shakur biopic is currently soaring in the box office, and the man who looks stunningly like the late legend is getting high praise for his performance. Variety said of his role, “Shipp Jr.’s performance nails the hip-hop superstar as the ferocious role-player he was.” The 28-year old newcomer has made his mark on the acting world in a sensational way. With famed music video director Benny Boom at the helm of this project, Shakur’s astounding life is presented on the big screen by chronicling the choices and decisions that have made him the icon that he is today.
At ABFF, we spoke with Shipp, Jr. about stepping into such massive shoes and what he learned from the man who changed music forever.
JET: Were you scared at all about taking on such a prolific role? This is a legend. People revere Tupac.
Demetrius Shipp, Jr.: Nah.
JET: Why not?
DSJ: Because I was confident in myself and the work that I had put in with my acting coach. She gave me the confidence that I needed. As well, L.T. Hutton the producer, I was confident in what he was putting together and knowing that everybody was trying to put forth the best Tupac movie that we could. This was not something that was done out of…this was a passion project. Everybody that came and worked along with us, the cast and crew, came to make the best possible movie for Tupac, to honor his life and to give people something that they would love and cherish forever.
JET: What did you learn about Tupac that you didn’t know previously?
DSJ: There was a ton of stuff that I learned just because I was never personally invested in his life, per say. I was invested in the artist and the music. With this role, it was an honor to me to dive into his life and to see how he became the Tupac that we all love. So I just learned a ton of information in regards to his childhood, how he was raised and the things that he was interested in. A lot of people don’t know that Tupac did ballet.
JET: Oh, I didn’t know that. That’s dope.
DSJ: Yeah he was in the Shakespeare play Hamlet. It was just a great deal of information. He’s such a complex, layered person, and there is just so much that goes into his life and his struggle for 25 years. So I learned a whole lot.
JET: Congratulations and thank you so much.
All Eyez On Me is now playing in theaters.