By Christina Freycinet
Actor Jermel Howard went from being a rapper from Long Island New York to becoming an actor out in Los Angeles California. He’s already made a name for himself by starring in shows and films and shows such as Luke Cage, Orange Is the New Black, and Power. He’s currently working on a new project called Tales produced by none other than Irv Gotti. His latest projects include the new Sprite commercial with actor and rapper Mack Wilds. Check out Jermel Howard in the new movie All Eyez on Me, where he will be playing the role of Mopreme Shakur (Tupac’s brother), which will air Friday, June 16th.
- Tell me about yourself, where your from and how you got into acting? I’m from Long Island New York aka Strong Island, a place where us strong people are from. I started off in the music business, but I wasn’t making much money off it. I ended up meeting someone who suggested that I try to get into acting because they liked my look. The person told me if I was able to book a commercial that they’d promise to get me involved into more shows. The first commercial I booked was a burger king commercial. When I called that person back and told them that I booked my first commercial, they sent me to 4 different auditions. I ended up booking all 4 auditions which was not common. He told me that it seems like acting is what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s just been a snowball effect from there.
- Who are you biggest rap influences? I’m a huge Tupac fan. I also like Biggie Smalls, Jadakiss, Scarface, Outkast, and of course Nas. I like them because they all embrace the importance of lyricism. Being a lyricist is extremely important to me. I listen to people’s word play and how they put their craft together. Lyricism is how you use your words in your rhymes to capture the audience attention.
- I know you’ve had roles in Power, Orange is the New Black, Luke Cage and others, which role was your favorite and which one was the most challenging and why? Playing the role “Brains” in Power and “Shameek” in Luke Cage were my favorite roles. The most challenging role was playing Shameek in Luke Cage because of the stunts and choreography of the shootout scenes. They were tough on the body. It looks easy to lift these guns up and pretend to shoot, and to do multiple takes on set. The guns we used were real, and they were extremely heavy. We used Desert Eagle guns. Lifting up two guns at once and having to spin around and pretend to shoot someone was really challenging. Playing Shameek in Luke Cage really gave me a platform to display my talent. I haven’t really been able to act at a full range. In Luke Cage, I was able to clown around at the barber shop and then do a serious scene with the guns. I was able to be flexible by shooting these different types of scenes.
- I know that you have a role in the show Power, who is your character ? And how was it working with 50 Cent? I play a character called “Brains” who is a friend of a guy named Kanan, who’s played by 50 Cent. Kanon brings Brain on a couple of big jobs, these jobs teach him different ways to earn money. Working with 50 Cent is great. He’s somebody you can look up to and listen to. You can absorb what he’s saying because he knows what he’s talking about. You can hear the wisdom when he’s speaking. There are some people that you speak to where you can’t really absorb anything that they’re saying. But with 50, it’s easy to listen to everything he says because he doesn’t waste his breath when he talks. Working with him has been wonderful, he’s a cool dude. He’s very interested in his craft, he takes everything seriously. He knows what he’s doing and knows what he wants. He comes from the same rough upbringing as I do. You’d want to pay attention to someone as successful as 50 Cent.
- Can you tell me a little more about your character in the anticipated Tupac film, All Eyes on Me? I play Tupac’s older brother “Mopreme Shakur.” I’m actually an older brother myself. Being an older sibling made it easier for me to play this role. Mopreme was the one who would try to protect Tupac from being harmed. Pulling him away from different altercations. I believe his relationship with his older brother was closer than anybody knew. I never knew he had an older brother until I got offered the role. Nobody really paid attention to him because Tupac shined so bright that you didn’t notice his brother or anyone for that matter around him. I think it’s dope to actually play somebody that really exists and not someone made up. His mother Afeni was on the set for most of the shooting. The Outlawz which is a group that Tupac was apart of was also on the set. Benny Boom the director and The Outlawz were able to guide us while we were filming since they knew Tupac personally. Unfortunately, his mother passed away right when we finished filming.
- Who are your favorite actors and why? I really like Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker. I’d love to work with Forest one day, he’s currently doing directing and producing. I like Matthew Mcconaughey, Don Cheadle and Zoe Saldana.
- I know you’re currently filming in LA. What other projects do you have coming up? I’m working on a project right now with Irv Gotti, It’ called Tales. I’m working with Lance Gross … Blac Chyna is also in an episode and a couple of other familiar faces. Irv Gotti pretty much chose songs and turned them into episodes. For instance, Biggies “I got a story to tell,” where he talks about messing with a girl and her boyfriend happens to come home one day; who actually plays for the New York Knicks. Instead of getting caught cheating, Biggie made it look like he walked into the house and tried to rob them. He ends up leaving with thousands of dollars and jewelry. So he pretty much turned the whole scene into a robbery. That’s an example of one of the episodes from the show. It will air on BET and Tidal. You should also look out for my show that’s coming out really soon. My show is called “The Title.”
- What advice would you give to a young actor that would want to be in your shoes? Be consistent, a lot of people get into a funk and then they give up. A lot of young people create this “it’s okay to quit zone.” I don’t really think it’s right. People give up too early, hard works seems to scare people. That’s not how I was raised. I’d say consistency is very important. You have to be able to keep going, even when it doesn’t look like things are going the way you want them to. You must be able to keep on moving. I’ve been in a lot of positions where I didn’t think something was going to turn out well. I never looked back, I just kept it moving. You have to believe in yourself and believe in something that’s higher than you are important. As well as preparing yourself. Preparation meets opportunities and success. Lots of people want an opportunity but if you’re not prepared for it, you probably won’t get it.