Exclusive: Alexandra Shipp On Being The New Storm In ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’

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Alexandra Shipp On Being The New Storm In ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’
Posted by Wilson Morales

May 31, 2016

X-Men Apocalypse IMAX poster

Currently in theaters is the #1 film, ‘X-Men: Apocalypse,’ the conclusion of a trilogy started with X-Men: First Class and continued with X-Men: Days of Future Past.

X-Men: Apocalypse stars James McAvoy as Charles Xaver, Michael Fassbender as Magneto, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, Nicholas Hoult as Beast, Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert, Lucas Till as Havok and newcomers Alexandra Shipp as Storm, Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, Ben Hardy as Angel, Tye Sheridan as Cyclops, Olivia Munn as Psylocke and Lana Condor as Jubilee. Oscar Isaac is starring as the film’s title antagonist.

For Shipp, not only does the Phoenix, Arizona native get to play one of the few well-known Black female comic book character, but she’s replacing the actress who played the role in the previous films, Oscar winner Halle Berry.

X-Men Apocalypse Global Fan Screening - Alexandra Shipp 3

In the last few years, Shipp has made quite a splash in the industry, which started when she took on the role of famed singer Aaliyah in a Lifetime TV biopic, Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B. Then she followed that with a lead role in Drumline 2: A New Beat, the sequel to the 2002 film which starred Nick Cannon. On the big screen, she was seen in last year’s biggest musical ever, the Oscar snubbed Straight Outta Compton; playing the role of Ice Cube’s wife.

In speaking exclusively with Blackfilm.com, Shipp talks about her character Storm and how she fits into this new X-Men film.

Growing up, who was the character you wanted to play, comic book wise?

Alexandra Shipp: To be honest with you, Storm. I loved Storm because she looked like me and I realized that I don’t have to look like anybody else to be a strong, powerful, beautiful woman. I can look exactly like me.

Alexandra-Shipp-in-X-Men-Apocalypse

How did you do your research, did you read the comic books or did you watch the films, to get an idea as to the type of character you would be playing?

Alexandra Shipp: I did a number of things, I read the comics, I watched the films and I worked out a lot, but it was definitely fun and super-worth it. I wanted to show people a ripped, sexy, slim Storm. I worked out with trainer Holly Lawson and we did a lot of circuits and a lot of strength training and it wasn’t about gaining muscle or getting ripped, it was just about feeling good and healthy and in-shape, which is key.

What was your first thought when you read about the look of Storm’s hair or were you aware that you would have to do something for the roll?

Alexandra Shipp

Alexandra Shipp: I didn’t know but you know what, but once I was told I was so ready for it. I have always wanted to shave my head. I was super nervous. I really wanted to keep my hair as long as I possibly could but at the same time, it needed to go. I threw a party and I had a bunch of my friends come over, and helped me shave my head. It was beautiful, it was a beautiful moment.

How long did it take for it to go back to the way you wanted it?

Alexandra Shipp: I mean, it’s still growing.

The Storm from the beginning of the X-men films to Storm now is different. Did you talk to Brian in terms of her background? What was your interpretation of Storm in this movie?

Alexandra Shipp: It was a bit of a mutual interpretation but for me, I wanted this Storm to be a lot more wild and I wanted to be able to show where Halle Berry’s Storm came from and show the seeds before the tree.

Alexandra-Shipp-Storm-in-X-Men-Apocalypse

How was working with CGI, and was that your first time doing that?

Alexandra Shipp: It wasn’t. The first time I did it was on the Alvin and the Chipmunks sequel, but it was really cool because we were using the same technology that they used for Avatar so we could watch back and see like 50 – 70% of the special effects.

How was working with this cast and gaining a chemistry so that way we could see it on the screen?

Alexandra Shipp: It was cool. Everyone is really great. Everyone is really fantastic. I know that we all feel really fortunate and there was such a love and comradery for everyone and it really does kind of feel like we’re a bunch of orphans who got put in the best foster house ever. Everyone comes from different walks of life, and yet everyone has love and respect for each other.

X-Men Apocalypse character poster - Storm

We’ve got a Supergirl on TV. We’ve got a Wonder Woman film coming out. Do you foresee or do you believe Storm should have her own franchise?

Alexandra Shipp: Yeah. I do. She is the first female black superhero, and she deserves to have her own comic kingdom. She already does comic book wise, but she needs her own movies 100%.

In the last two years, you have had an amazing run from Aaliyah, the Drumline sequel, Straight out of Compton, and X-men. How is it going for you as an actress? Are you still learning the craft?

Alexandra Shipp: Yeah. There is definitely a lot more to come. For me, I’m not done learning in any way, shape or form. I continue to grow and change and evolve every day with every project or thing that I take on, and for me, I feel like the sky is the limit because I believe that God has a plan for me and I’m just trying to stay afloat on the beautiful tidal wave that he is sending me on.

X-Men Apocalypse Global Fan Screening - Alexandra Shipp

What are we going to see you in next?

Alexandra Shipp: I just finished a film. It is written and directed by Olivia Milch called Dude, and it is going to be coming out this year. I don’t think they have an official release date but it’s going to be really groovy. It’s about four girls who are graduating from high school and they are trying to figure out the types of human beings they want to be. Also, while dealing with loss and fear of space and not being close to the people that you have grown up your entire life. It’s a real look at how girls are and we are not all just having pillow fights in our underwear. We’re dudes. We’re hanging out and we’re farting and laughing and talking about periods and playing video games. It’s not as overly feminine and or overly sexualized as it usually portrayed. It’s like a ladies’ Super Bad.

When you are not doing films, what do you do to stay humble?

Alexandra-Shipp-as-Storm-in-X-Men-Apocalypse

Alexandra Shipp: I like to play a lot of music. I love playing guitar and piano and writing songs in the way that I stay humble. I like to go home every month, once a month and see my friends and see my mom and my grandparents. Family means a lot to me and that is how I can just sink into relaxation; just being with my family to hold it down.

Do you have any big plans for your 25th?

Alexandra Shipp: I was thinking about meeting up with some girlfriends out of town.


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