Did you get any one-on-one time with her behind the scenes?
Absolutely. She gave me some incredible wisdom. She will put her neck on the line and say, ‘This person is talented. This person is the next. This person has such a bright future.‘ People listen to her. She’s so generous in that way. She taught me it’s all about the hard work. Success, the money, the fame- everything is secondary. It’s a by product of how hard you work. It’s vital to your staying power because I can go so far with talent and charisma and everybody can do that. But, at the end of the day, who’s working and who’s sleeping?
How did you get involved with this project?
When a film like this comes around, everybody in Hollywood wants to be a part of it, period. It’s like rappers. When a dope song comes out, everybody wanna be on the remix. Lee Daniels announced that he was doing this and I went to audition for the role. The audition was at this really famous hotel in LA called the Chateau Marmont. We get there and everybody is in the lobby. You’ve got everyone from David Oyelowo to Michael B. Jordan is in the lobby. You go there and it looks like an awards show downstairs because everybody wants to be a part of it. I went in and we (Lee) had a conversation. He’s looking at me and I’m looking right back at him. I tell him, ‘I can do this role.’ And he’s like ‘What?!’ I told him I want to be brilliant and he said, ‘Let me show you brilliance.’ And then he proceeds to pop in one of his movies. And so for 35 minutes in my audition, we sit there and he shows me a movie that’s not out yet and he said ‘that’s brilliance.’ After he said that to me, I looked him in his eyes and said ‘I can beat that.’ And he said ‘You gon’ have to show me.’ He gave me the role right there, before I even read for the part.
Tell us about your character.
I play a character by the name of Charlie Gaines. I’m the son of Gloria Gaines (Oprah) and Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) and the younger brother of Louis Gaines (David Oyelowo). I get my jokes in where I can. If something serious is going on, I try my best to make light of it.