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March 2006
ATL: An Interview with Tip "T.I" Harris

ATL: An Interview with Tip "T.I" Harris

March 27, 2006
by Wilson Morales

Just about every successful rapper wants to be an actor. For them, it's the next step. A number of them start off with small supporting roles and lesser lines to speak just to test the waters while they work on the craft and others start off with the pressure of carrying an audience to bring in a box office hit. Rapper Tip "T.I" Harris is the latest to come over to the film industry. After achieving so man accolades and success with his music, T.I is bringing his other talents to the screen with his film debut in Chris Robinson's debut film, "ATL". T.I is playing the lead role of Rashad, a 17 year old from Atlanta who's trying to maintain a steady life while taking care of his younger brother, and hanging out with his boys at the skating rink on Sunday nights. Within the same week of the film's release, T.I's latest album, KING., will be released. In speaking with blackfilm.com, T.I talks about making the transition to the film industry, and working on what he calls his best album to date.

With this being your film debut, why were you attracted to this story?

T.I: Well, for one, it was the most honest representation of my culture and my city ever to be put on screen and the largest production to be ever filmed in Atlanta, so I felt somewhat obligated.

Director Chris Robinson talked about how you brought your character Rashad to life and was talking about some very intense scenes between you and Mykelti Williamson, who played your uncle in the film. How did you prepare for those for scenes?

T.I: I just went in there and did it. I read the story, and I understood the circumstances and put myself in that situation. There was a lot of ab-libbing. Everybody, myself, Chris Robinson, Big Boi, Lauren London, Jackie Long, Jason Weaver, Evan Ross, and Mykelti dissected this story and pretty much challenged it every chance we got. "Could this be real?" Would I be upset at this or I act differently? There were certain things that we had to do, even still to the story, in my opinion; sometimes I wanted Rashad to do other things for the story. If it just me by myself, we might have just moved. There was a collective effort to really challenge this story and bring out the ifs and most honest look at these everyone's lives.

How did you prepare towards this goal?

T.I: I've tried out for other movies before. I tried out for Nick Cannon's role in "Drumline". I tried out for a role in "Barbershop". It's the one that Michael Ealy had, named Ricky. I always believe that I could do this. It was just a matter of someone giving me the opportunity to do it.

Have you been taking classes in the meantime?

T.I: Nah. I've never taken classes. We had an instructor to familiarize us with the demands of the film industry because there were a lot of first time actors but I never took a real acting class.

Were there any personal challenges that you took with role because carrying a film is a big step for a first time actor?

T.I: Not so much, this is the only way I know right now. Anything else I guess would be easy. This is how I learned. I've never went somewhere and played a small role and had to come and leave early. That would had been easier. I feel that you get out of it what you put into it and I put a whole lot into it, so I plan to get a whole lot of it.

Is there any part of the film that you enjoyed in particular?

T.I: Any part? There were a few of them. I liked the scene with me and Mykelti and I liked the scenes with me and the guys together. I liked the scenes with me Evan and I liked the scene with me and Big Boi as well.

What about the whole process of being in the film industry and making records? Can you talk about it?

T.I: They are worlds apart. I mean beyond comparison. I don't it's fair to compare the two, the two industries, because there are so different.

Can you talk about the pros and cons from both the film and music industry?

T.I: The demands and expectations are just totally and totally different. In the music industry, the pros for me are responding with the people individually at shows and being in and out of hoods and cities across the nation. I like seeing the reaction of those who like my music and hearing their opinions. Of course, the money is great. In the film industry, the pros are the exposure, the amount of money that is invested into the project that you have to put out. Of course, the press is the most intense wide and publicize and noteworthy amount of press you can have. The food on set is great

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