We caught up with Colson ‘MGK’ Baker to discuss his debut acting role in Gina Prince-Bythewood‘s “Beyond The Lights,” out this Friday.
Read what he had to say about working on the film and playing Kid Culprit.
What was it like to dive into your first major acting role?
It was amazing I think that that me having a great relationship with the director gave me comfort as far as doing my first movie and it being on such a big scale. I auditioned for the movie so many times that the director and I had formed this relationship because she could tell and she knew how badly I wanted this, she could tell how much work I was putting in to get it. I was on tour the same time I was auditioning so I was flying in before shows to LA to audition to go back and I did that about 4 or 5 times, so I think that was a helping factor in my first movie role.
Obviously, your character is a rapper as well, but what else were you able to connect with?
I think I was definitely able to connect with the fact that it’s hard for me to take somebody so great and so awesome seriously and appreciate them for what they are and that’s why I’ve been living the way that I have for the past 4 or 5 years which is girlfriendless and just living the fast life on the road , different girl, different date type mentality and it’s not that I necessarily agree with it I think playing the role of someone who realizes what they’re losing … connects with me because sometimes … you’re so caught up in what the industry’s made you that you forget about how good those people are.
Speak about working with Director Gina Prince-Bythewood.
She’s a perfectionist, she knows exactly what she wants. She knows exactly the type of emotion she wants your character to wear on their face, she knows how she wants the lines delivered. She has classics under her belt already and you just gotta trust it and trust her. We would shoot and shoot and shoot until she got the scene that she wanted and she made me feel comfortable. We would do take after take after take and it was just really cool because she knew what she wanted out of my character so much that I would just would give her a bunch of different vibes, she would choose the format that she was feeling. I think my favorite part about Gina though is that I had asked her to allow the friends in the movie to be my actual friends in real life. So the people you see with me in the movie, my entourage, those are my real friends, the real guys in my band and I thought that was really awesome.
Speak about working with Gugu Mbatha-Raw. She also gives a stellar performance.
Well one, she’s the most gorgeous girl I’ve ever seen and two, she was awesome and she was so well-composed and she knew it was my first time acting, but she saw that I was taking it very seriously and she had no problem helping me with whatever I needed. We had a great chemistry on set. It was a pleasure working with Gugu.
There’s an intense scene where you’re performing at the BET awards & some drama ensues. Speak about filming that scene.
That was like a 16 hour day. A fun behind-the-scenes fact is that when we were doing it for the first time, one of my friends punched the stunt guy in the face and bloodied his lip up by accident because the fight scene was getting so intense. I don’t think they kept that in the movie but it’s a funny little fact.
Was it hard to get that scene right? 16 hours is a long day.
Actually the BET scene was weird I had choreography lessons and all that for that dance I did with Gugu, so it was just a really new experience it was more like R&B stars rather than rappers.
Was it hard to go outside of your comfort zone, or was it more of an adventure?
It was a fun new adventure, I was more comfortable doing things that were on stage in front of everybody rather than just the scenes where it’s just me and Gugu in a trailer. It was just her and I and the cameras and that’s kinda where I was outside of my comfort zone. I was like Holy sh*t, I have to act. I can’t just get by with being a rapper right now.
You also did original music for the film. Speak about working with The-Dream.
Yeah it was exciting because it was like I got to ghost write for somebody else and perform as somebody else. Like normally I would never do those type of songs that I did, but I wasn’t Machine Gun Kelly, I was Kid Culprit so I got a chance to make a sexy records for the girls that Machine Gun Kelly isn’t in the studio doing.
We felt the “Beyond The Lights” is a pretty authentic portrayal of the music industry. Do you agree?
Hell Yeah. The music industry destroys people and this is the perfect way for it to be portrayed, it’s very true to reality. The reality of what the music industry is like.
Do you think there’s anything in the music industry the film doesn’t cover?
Off the top of my head, no. I was gonna say the violent street aspect, but that was shown in a sense at the BET awards. No, I think she did a great job. Why I love the film is because they showed that being in love was cool in an age where being a hoe is cool. She kind of took the modern day mentality, which is like f–k all the girls you want, have fun and she took that and was like nah having a relationship is cool. Being in love with someone that you could be yourself around is cool and that’s a message that’s missing (in society) and I’m always down with being a part of that kind of culture.
What was your favorite moment from set?
My immature answer would be being able to kiss Gugu because she’s like a dream girl.
My real answer would be the moment that they yelled cut on the last day of filming with me and I just felt like the rush of emotions because I was like “wow I just wrapped my first movie.” Gina had the guts to hire me rather than hiring someone with a huge name or someone stereotypical of a role like this and I was just really grateful to her. It was a rush of emotion. I almost wanted to cry happy tears. I’m from Cleveland, Ohio and we don’t get those type of opportunities and I’m sitting there knowing that people from my hood and people from my city … are going to see me in the film and my friends all are in the film with me and it was just a beautiful moment. That was really my favorite moment. When she yelled cut and seeing how sad everyone was and that it was our last day and that we were leaving and just how much they cared and how much liked what we brought to the set. It was really cool.
Tell us about your upcoming film “Punk’s Dead.”
I’ve done two movies since then, I’ve done Punk’s Dead and I did a horror film, I don’t know which one comes out first.
“Punk’s Dead” is the sequel to a classic movie called “SLC Punk,” which is a childhood favorite and still a favorite of mine. I dyed my hair black, spike up the hair I got to be a straight ghetto punk. It was badass, it was a lot of street style dialogue, which was awesome, because in this movie. In “Beyond The Lights,” it was exactly what the script said because Gina knew exactly what she wanted and she knew exactly what she wanted the character to be, but in “Punk’s Dead” I got to formulate who my character was so I think when we see me in “Punk’s Dead” we’ll be seeing more of MGK the actor rather than MGK playing a rapper.
Music wise what would you like to share with The Source readers?
The second album is being finished. So I think we could expect a first single within the next month. I have just got done with a collaborative tour with Limp Bizkit that we did and then me and Wiz Khalifa got in the studio.
Now that you’ve tried your hand at acting, which do you prefer rapping or acting?
I’ll give you the answer after I see all three films, I want to watch them and be impressed with myself. I don’t really wanna do acting unless I’m bringing something new to the acting world. I’ll watch these first three films and If I like what I brought to the movie world then I’ll continue acting, but music ultimately will always be what I am and who I am.