The Source Magazine sat down with Tyrese Gibson to discuss his latest film “Black Nativity,” which hits theaters this Wednesday, November 27. It is refreshing to see Tyrese play a darker rougher role. He says he took the project on because he wanted to show his acting chops. Watch Part 1 of our interview below.
How did you get involved with “Black Nativity”?
Tyrese: Well I got a call from, from the director Kasi Lemmons and she said she wrote the part for me, specifically. Crazy thing is when I got the script to read it, my character’s name was Tyrese and I was like “Oh, you really had me in mind!” But I was like “I’m sorry Kasi, Tyrese ain’t playing Tyrese.” So she ended up changing my name to Tyson. I was like “Well, that might not work either because if there’s anybody I get compared to or he gets compared to, you know we go back and forth. They walk up to Tyson like “Tyrese?” and he be like “No, I’m Tyson Beckford.” And I get it sometimes too, so it’s funny. But I’m playing Tyson in “Black Nativity”.
What did you love about the script?
Tyrese: To be honest, it was my first time ever singing in a movie, so that was special. I’ve purposely stayed away from playing a music executive or doing anything that’s expected of me because I’m in music and music is what I do, so I thought the timing of doing something musically in a movie was cool, so I did it. You know I just think it’s powerful, it’s about family, it’s about fatherhood, it’s about spirituality. We’re singing things that we could’ve never said, and so it’s really just a powerful movie and I’m just honored to be apart of it. I think the timing of it is perfect…it’s like an answered prayer for me. I’ve been doing these huge box office movies that perform well domestically and internationally, but I’ve been praying for something that’s dark and dramatic where people could really see the other side of my acting chops.
Can you speak about collaborating with Kasi Lemmons?
Tyrese: Kasi is – I felt like I was working with my mother. She is very accommodating, very sweet, and she gives you freedom to explore stuff, and I think a lot of times directors they like to control the set too much and they don’t give actors the freedom to explore and just try new things and say some words that wasn’t written, that just kind of shows up in your character and she allowed us to do that and it really took the movie to another level, in my opinion.
What do you think of Jacob Latimore as a young talent?
Tyrese: Jacob got it. I mean Jacob is going to shock a lot of people with his performance. It’s his second movie, but it’s really his first ‘cause I don’t think anybody has seen the first one on that level. So for him to be in scenes with Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett all by himself and he’s holding his own like that, he’s going to shock a lot of people. And I definitely think he’s one of the young actors to watch from 2014 and beyond.
You act, sing and write. What do you love about the mediums of acting and singing?
Tyrese: You know, to be honest, it’s a different brain for each one, but I love what I do and I love what I’ve had an opportunity to do. I’ve never claimed to be the biggest star. I’m just doing me and if I wanted to be more famous I could, I’m just not interested. I’m just into really focusing on the work, taking care of my family, and just being consistent. A lot of folks come in this game, they shoot to the top, they’re big time, paparazzi, and then they fizzle away. I’ve been at it for seventeen years and I’m not leaving.
What’s the secret to longevity? You have remained consistent.
Tyrese: Well the secret is you know when you build your career on sand just add water. It’s about integrity, it’s about real talent, instead of all this superficial fake sh*t. What are you really bringing to the table? And you know you have to let the work speak for itself. A lot of people get caught up in name dropping, star power, riding coat tales you know what I mean? Just all of the dumb sh*t. It’s like that’s all smoke and mirrors and at a certain point your fans are going to see that and they’re going to bail on you. But my fans know when I say I got a crazy album, the album is crazy. When I say this movie is crazy, they’re going to show up and not be disappointed. You can’t lie to people.
What are your favorite holiday traditions? “Black Nativity” is very much a holiday film.
Tyrese: Honestly, this year I got Rev Run’s whole family coming to my house for Thanksgiving. So, I’m so excited about that moment, you know I hope Russell and Kimora and the kids and everybody come by as well. I’m going to have a Simmons’ Thanksgiving and that’s my best friend and mentor in the whole world and I can’t wait to have the family running through the house, all of the food and just all of the stuff that’s going to be happening, I look forward to it.