Here is the Exclusive Interview from Issue #272 of Demetrius Shipp, Jr. by L. Londell Mcmillan
Demetrius Shipp, Jr. may be a newbie to Hollywood, but his portrayal of the late Tupac Shakur in All Eyez On Me promises to usher in a new generation of actors taught on the stage of life.
Thanks so much, I appreciate it.
Tell us a little about you and your background before we get into the film?
I was born and raised in Carson, California. I always aspired to get into music and wanted to be a producer. I’m a father, I’ve got three kids now and that pretty much it, I’m just kicked back, laid back and love spending time family and with my kids.
Excellent, prior to being cast as Tupac, you were work- ing at a few different places just trying to put bread on the table, like at Target and Dish. This acting career must be a major shift from working like that.
Oh man, I’m a long way from climbing ladders and installing satellites on people’s roofs buddy and it’s a beautiful feeling! And it’s not just financially, but getting introduced to the industry I work in, the freedom I now have, it’s just great.
Tell us how you got ready for the role of Tupac Shakur?
Well, I did an extensive amount of research on him. The bulk of it came from watching videos of him on YouTube. Watching those day in and day out and studying his mannerisms. And then covering that with my acting coach and getting familiar with what he was into, his train of thought so to speak as far as what he liked, how he was raised. So then going to learn about Shakespeare, reading it, learning about the Black Panther Party, because his family was in the Party and seeing how that was for him growing up. Also I read the books he read and influenced him like, The Art of War, I Know Why The Cage Bird Sings, Malcolm X, just to name a few. So really seeing what he liked and watching him extensively.
Your father was an in-house producer at Death Row. You would have been pretty young but did you have a chance to meet ‘Pac?
I don’t recall meeting him but I remember being at the studio, and there were stories that my father told me about that him and Tupac, as far as in the studio and how they began to develop a relationship outside of the music.
Does it feel predestined that you were able to get this role?
It was definitely destined. There have been so many things that pretty much solidifies that this is not a coincidence at all. It feels very much by design.
How did you first find out about the role?
My friend hit me up and showed it to me. It was on the Internet actually and it was a casting call you had to submit to on a website which was back in 2011, like April.
You have a striking similarity and look to Tupac, did people ever tell you that before this role or do you think you transformed your look for the role and that made you look more like him?
That was the gateway to me do- ing it in the first place, was the similarities. My friends start- ing telling me that in my high school years, around 10th grade and it continued to my adulthood.
For the rest of this exclusive interview with Demetrius Shipp, Jr., go get your copy of Issue#272 of The Source Magazine available on newsstands now!