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October 2007
An Interview with Omarion Grandberry

An Interview with Omarion Grandberry

By Wilson Morales

October 2, 2007

Having been featured in the hit film, “You Got Served” when he was still with the group B2K, gave R & B artist Omarion Grandberry a taste of stardom in the film business and since he’s gone solo as an artist, he continues to gain more exposure and success, and both his music and film career are thriving and ready to explode. On the heels of having another album coming out, this time a collaboration his good buddy Bow Wow, Omarion has his first lead role in the ‘Feel The Noise’, which is co-produced by Jennifer Lopez.

After a run-in with local thugs, aspiring Harlem rapper Rob (Omarion Grandberry) flees to a place and father (Giancarlo Esposito) he never knew, and finds his salvation in Reggaeton, a spicy blend of hip-hop, reggae and Latin beats. Puerto Rico, the spiritual home of Reggaeton, inspires Rob and his half-brother Javi (Victor Rasuk) to pursue their dream of becoming Reggaeton stars. Together with a dancer named C.C., they learn what it means to stay true to themselves and each other, while overcoming obstacles in love, greed and pride, all culminating in an explosive performance at New York’s Puerto Rican Day Parade.

In speaking exclusive with blackfilm.com, Omarion talks about working on this film, his reunion with Marques Houston on “Somebody Help Me” and his upcoming album with Bow Wow.

What can you say about having your first lead role?

Omarion Grandberry: Having my first lead role was exciting on top of being challenging. I really, really enjoyed being in this film with all-star actors like Giancarlo Esposito, Victor Rasuk and newcomer Zulay Henao and it was wonderful. I had a great time. I was in Puerto Rico for about two months and I got really dark because it was hot.

How did the role come about for you?

OG: It was a script that my agents sent over to me. I had a meeting with them and I told him where I wanted my career to go as far as films and they said this could be a great film that I could out branch into being that guy. This was a challenging role in the sense that I had to basically create this character. This was different from ‘You Got Served’ or ‘Fat Albert’, which was pretty natural to me because those were inner city kids that could get into college. This young Rob, having been from Harlem, faced so much adversity that I could feel Rob’s pain.

With your character being a rapper trying to get a deal, did any part of the storyline reflect your own personal life?

OG: Yes. It actually parallels themselves. It’s funny being on the production side of it and me having a say on things like, ‘I like this line, but let’s do this line.’ I put a little bit of my life in it as well. Rob just got out of a very serious relationship so when he was in Puerto Rico he wasn’t really looking for a girlfriend. He was looking for someone to show him a good time around the city and it was sort of similar to my life at that time. I was in a long term relationship and it didn’t work out.

Reggaeton is something new that will be brought to the big screen. How much did you know about the music prior to taking the role?

OG: I didn’t know much about it. I only knew of Daddy Yankee and Pit Bull, but having gone to Puerto Rico, I have some new favorite artists like Calle Trece, and I actually want to do a Reggaeton record.

Had you been to Puerto Rico before?

OG: No

What was it like?

OG: The experience was amazing. To be out in that heat and visit that beach, I think it gave me time to relax. On top of having to work, I really got to relax and step away from music for a while.

How was working with Jennifer Lopez as a producer?

OG: It was great. She came down to the set and gave me some encouragement and gave me a bug hug as well. That was nice. She was totally supportive of my work and I think she loves me. I love her too.

How was working with the cast members like Kellita Smith, Zulay Henoa, Victor Rasuk and Giancarlo Esposito?

OG: That was the great part of doing this. As an actor, you always want great actors around you. For me, it drives me to be better and be more creative and stuff like that. It was great having them around.

Did you hang with each other off set?

OG: Of course. On the DVD, they have some footage that we shot and one of the guys who plays the guitar and Giancarlo had the congos and I was singing and we were all singing together. There are some moments that they taped off-screen.

As an actor still learning from this business, what did you learn from the director Alejandro (Chomski)?

OG: I felt that was really important as an actor is to take direction well from the director because the director sees it before he even shoots it. From Alejandro, I just got a different aspect of being that he’s not from America and we’re totally different and something that he wanted to make sure he captured was the passion; and that’s not shot in films a lot. With me, he was like, ‘Make sure you feel it’ and he always enforced that. That was great.

Was there any particular scene you enjoyed doing?

OG: There was a scene in the film where I help a guy, played by Malik Yoba, out and he’s considered the big man around town and he’s running from the police and I don’t know why I felt compelled to help him out but I opened up my back door and helped him escape the law. That was the first scene we shot and I forgot what they using but it was pretty interesting to react to that because my girlfriend had called and they started shooting and I was like, ‘I have to call you back’.

Can you talk adding two songs to the soundtrack and working with Kat De Luna and Wyclef?

OG: Kat is amazing! I’d tell you that right now. Being a newcomer and coming into the game, I have a lot of respect for her. She came in and did her thing; and Wyclef is a genius. He’s really, really smart and he’s good at what he does.

You always have another film coming out in November on DVD, but it reunites you with Marques Houston and Chris Stokes. What’s that film about?

OG: It’s called ‘Somebody Help Me’ and it’s a scary film, and it’s just great. The chemistry between me and Marques is that we are close to brothers from ‘another mutha’ and it’s always great. The storyline to the film is that it’s a scary film, but not your typical gore and guts film. It’s actually a film you can take your girlfriend to go see or double date with your boys. It’s a great film. It’s about these four characters and go up to my character’s uncle’s cabin to celebrate Marques Houston’s character’s girlfriend’s birthday, and she played by Brooklyn Sudano (Donna Summers’daughter). All of our friends come up to surprise her and we go out into the woods one night and folks start disappearing. My character just woke up and they were just gone. There’s this element of a crazy doctor that actually killed his wife on a certain day and every time that day comes up, he has to revisit what he did.

Can we assume that it’s directed by a brother, you’re not the first one killed?

OG: That’s what the great part of the film is. The black people don’t die first. That’s great.

What sort of scripts are you getting now?

OG: I’m actually looking at some films right now being that the whole 40s and 50s era are blowing up, I have some scripts laying around as well as some musicals. I have a lot of projects coming up.

Will there be a sequel to “You Got Served”?

OG: Well, I can’t say of course, but I’m actually doing another dance film called ‘Back Down’ and we will start shooting I believe in March.

Who else in involved?

OG: Myself, Marques Houston and Chris Stokes, the Tri-Pod.

Is there a storyline?

OG: Yes, but I don’t want to say. They might change it.

Why should folks go and see ‘Feel the Noise’?

OG: I would tell people in general that have a dream that this is a film to look at because Rob is faced with so much adversity, having getting shot at while doing a performance, and then moving to Puerto Rico and live with his dad, so he has to go to unfamiliar territory to find himself. The whole premise is that you find your dream no matter what obstacles or barriers are put in your way. That grass in greener.

On the music front, what’s next?

OG: I’m getting ready for the Bow Wow-Omarion album to come out. “Face Off” comes out on December 11th. I’m really excited about that. We’ve been getting ready for that for quite some time now and I think it’s going to be exciting for our fans being that we have grown up together in the industry. We have 4 sold out tours.

Why “Face Off” as the title?

OG: It’s a great title to represent the difference between us. “Face Off” in a friendly way in that him being part of hip hop and me being part of R & B and us having a goal and when I see him on stage it’s like, ‘I hope you kill tonight, because I’m going to kill’. It’s sort of a friendly, brotherly competition between us and we compliment each other well and to do better.

What’s the meaning behind “Hood Star”, being that it’s the first track out?

OG: The meaning behind it is that if you are from the inner city like Me and Bow Wow and you were a kid who had dreams and conquered it, like a Jay-Z or Nas or 50 Cent, guys that pretty much lived in the inner-city and made something of themselves, everybody is a Hood Star.



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