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Rapping On Tupac, The Movie…And Hair

All Eyez On Me stars Demetrius Shipp, Jr. and Kat Graham show SBH some love!

All Eyez On Me stars Demetrius Shipp, Jr. and Kat Graham show SBH some love!

It’s appropriate that today—on what would have been rap legend Tupac Shakur’s 46th birthday—is the day the movie about his life, All Eyez On Me, releases. SBH Editor-in-Chief Jocelyn Amador sat down with film’s stars, Demetrius Shipp, Jr. (taking on the star-making role of Tupac) and Kat Graham (in the role of Jada Pinkett) along with producer L.T. Hutton, to talk about this much-anticipated project about the life of the slain rapper, actor, poet and activist…and the role hair played in the story.

SBH: How hard was it to do justice to retelling the life of an artist like Tupac Shakur on the big screen?
L.T. Hutton: Hard is not the word for it…I liken it to solving a Rubik’s Cube. It was a process and it was a recipe. I’m an analogy fanatic because I like to drive points home through expression of different scenarios. So let’s say this is a recipe for making chicken soup…The “recipe” was the process of finding Tupac’s story. Tupac’s voice was the main ingredient…the “broth” in this film was Tupac Shakur’s voice himself.

SBH: And key to making All Eyez On Me a successful “recipe” relied on the secret ingredient—casting the actor to play Tupac. Demetrius, how much pressure did you have carrying this role?
Demetrius Shipp, Jr.: Honestly, the pressure I put on myself personally was to get the role [of Tupac] because I said I could do it, I believed in myself and I put it out there that I could make this happen. If I get the opportunity, I’m going to do my thing. So I put the pressure on myself to do that—and to get the role and to do the homework and do what it took to get the mannerisms down, to get the patterns of his speech down, to get the essence of Tupac.

SBH: Kat, what was it like taking on the role of Jada Pinkett, one of Tupac’s closest friends?
Kat Graham: The thing about it is, their relationship is so multi-layered because they’re so multi-layered. They were so ahead of their time as kids. He’s doing Shakespeare and she’s over here being an actress and then she got into music and then producing. She was somebody who broke so many boundaries in the entertainment industry as an African-American woman. Capturing the dynamic of these two friends was really important.

SBH: It’s great how the film reflected the sound and the style of the 90s perfectly…
Kat Graham: Hair was a big thing in this film…We went through multiple hairstyles just for Jada alone!
Demetrius: Hair is absolutely important, it’s [the movie’s] history. You can tell a year went by sometimes just by the hairstyle.
L.T.: 90s hair was different from 80’s hair and Pac’s Gumby was different than bald. You remember different decades of Pac. Just look at his hair. Hair marks time and place. When we talk about an asymmetric style, what is that? It’s a hairstyle that was very popular. When you talk about French Rolls, when you talk about Freeze Curls—Freeze Curls is crimping but with spray to freeze it and body stays in it… Finger waves, Caesar, Fade, High Top Fade, Cliff Hangers, bobs—there are different types of bob—like the Chinese bob, pigtail bob, one of the ones I love for girls hair is the asymmetrical bob—and Jada rocked that one cold!

SBH: How many hairstyles did Jada have in the film?
Kat: I think we did four. We played with a lot more, though.
LT: Every scene that Jada did was a different style, and we did that on purpose because we used hairstyles do jump in time. We also showed Jada’s evolution with hair, same thing with Pac. So when you have the Gumby with the S-Curl, then you have the Gumby without the S-Curl, then going into [the scene from the movie] Juice, with the Afro Sheen…We use hair in this film to guide us and to show the progression because when you get to a certain age, you tend to change your hair to be more mature or to be more current.

All Eyez On Me ( directed by Benny Boom and starring Kat Graham, Lauren Cohan, Hill Harper, Jamal Woolard, Danai Gurira and Demetrius Shipp, Jr. as Tupac Shakur) releases nationwide today.

all eyez on me 2

Behind-the-scene during SBH’s interview…”Re-enacting” a hair moment from the film, actor Demetrius Shipp, Jr. makes certain co-star Kat Graham’s hair is on point while celebrity hairstylist Dayvid Wilson (far right) looks on.

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