Q&A With Bow Wow: Film Vs Music, Challenging Roles & Hollywood

By Michael Mahon  |  05/12/2011

Bow WowThere's almost always an obscene amount of scrutiny when you see a rapper get signed for a top role in an upcoming film, and it's for good reason. Not everybody can get on screen and have the instant talent and charisma to be the next Will Smith or Ice Cube or Mos Def, but there is one upstart who may very well see his name mentioned in that category of crossover successes in a few more years. His name is Shad Moss, but most of you just call him by the stage name he's been rocking for over a decade, Bow Wow.

Sure, he got his start making the little girls faint with his school yard rhymes, but over the years he has quietly been making a name for himself in the acting world. From his undeniable kiddy likability in "Like Mike", to his gut wrenching garage scene in the comedy "Roll Bounce," Bow Wow has been showing people for years that he may be the next great actor, instead of just the next great rapper-actor hybrid.

While he's had his share of big movies and big moments on the screen, his latest role as "Byron" in Tyler Perry's summer blockbuster, "Madea's Big Happy Family", might be his most challenging and rewarding film project yet. If everything goes according to plan, this could very well be the turning point in his young acting career that makes fans start checking for his next movie, instead of his next album, so look out.

BallerStatus.com: What was it that made you want to be a part of this project?

Bow Wow: What really made me want to be a part of the movie was the story and meaning behind it, the message that the whole film and the project represented overall. I just felt like it was something that I had to do, especially when I heard that Tyler wanted me to play Byron. At that particular time, I just felt like it was the right move. With the cast and everyone that I would have the chance to work with, I just felt like it was the right environment. I worked with Loretta on my last movie, she was my grandmother in "Lottery Ticket," and knowing Teyana Taylor for so many years, she's like a little sister to me, and knowing Lauren London for so many years and her affiliation, it's like its all family, and that just made it so easy for me to do this movie.

BallerStatus.com: So was this a role that was written with you in mind or did you have to go in and read for the part?

Bow Wow: I did no casting at all. I think that Tyler pretty much just called on me and that's how I got the role. I just got a call and it was crazy because I was already staying at the Four Seasons Hotel and that's where the reading was, and they told me to go downstairs. I thought it was just going to be a temporary thing during the table reading, but it turned out to be the real thing and it was on from there.

BallerStatus.com: How has it been like having to juggle so many different projects with your music and the multiple film projects that you're taking on?

Bow Wow: It was easy. It was a full on process, I had a lot of fun, but I got days off where I could go and hit the studio, which I did. The schedule was very flexible and then with the way Tyler works, he's very fast and that made everything even easier and better for me seeing that I do both music and acting. I had some downtime to do some shows here and there, so the schedule and everything worked out for the best.

BallerStatus.com: What's it like being a part of a film that has such high expectations, in terms of its performance at the box office?

Bow Wow: It's a blessing man; I love it. I love a challenge and so far I've had no time to look back. So far in my career, I've worked with the best of them. From Forrest Whittaker to Tyler Perry to Ice Cube to you name them, so it's just a blessing from God and I'm ready to get it on with whoever is ready, whether it's Don Cheadle or Denzel, I'm ready and that's what makes this job fun. The sizing up of not only your competition, but also working with the greats and getting to learn from them. More or less than being scared, I love it because it's challenging, but at the same time, you learn a lot and better your craft.

BallerStatus.com: What has it been like being able to work with so many top level industry people at such an early stage in your career?

Bow Wow: It's a blessing because I could be selling bootleg DVDs, so it could be the other way around. I just give all the credit to my team for them seeing the future and seeing the blueprint and just letting me be myself and execute it. That's how I've been able to do what I've been doing for so long and just dominate and expand my field, which is really what it's all about.

BallerStatus.com: In what way would you describe this film?

Bow Wow: I think it's more than a comedy because you have a comedy that has a strong message, which is family is always important. You never know when it's that person's time to go, so you should cherish every moment in life, and that's what you're going to get in this movie.

BallerStatus.com: Were you already a fan of the "Madea" films before you started work on this new one?

Bow Wow: Yea I've gone to the movies to see his films, so that's what made it even crazier and I told him that too. Just three months ago, I was got a ticket on a Friday to go see "Why Did I Get Married Too" during the first showing. It's hard for me to go to the late night shows because I get mobbed, but I went first thing in the morning and now it's crazy because now, it's like now I'm on his set right now getting ready to do this new one. It really just all worked out for the good.

BallerStatus.com: Since you've had quite a bit of experience so far in acting, how would you compare Tyler Perry's directorial skills to others that you've worked with so far?

Bow Wow: He doesn't compare, he stands out because the way he works is crazy, in a good way. He's fast and I guess that's because it's his money and his movie and he knows what he wants and he can do it. Nobody shoots like Tyler, the dude could probably knock out a movie in a week I believe, and I'm serious. The way he works is so dope and so rare, but it works and if it's not broke, than don't fix it. That's his motto and I respect it.

BallerStatus.com: What are your thoughts on the criticism that he's taken over the years from others for the types of movies that he makes?

Bow Wow: It's called entertainment. I think people just think too much and it's just entertainment. Spike is a legend and I love him to death, I respect him and I would love a chance to work with him, he's by far one of my favorite directors, but at the same time its entertainment man. Tyler packs in $60 million plus on opening weekends, so obviously somebody likes it. I think why hate on it man? Two black directors getting it in, there ain't no need to hate because there's room out here for all of us to go get it. I think it's just crazy. I want to see them both win, but you know how it is with the competition, so it is what it is.

BallerStatus.com: Do you ever feel like you might run the risk of being type casted because you star in so many comedies, as opposed to having a more diverse acting resume?

Bow Wow: Not really, because I know my skill and I know what I'm capable of doing. Even my new movie that I just finished filming in New York is an Army drama and there is no comedy in it whatsoever. Plus, people have seen what I can do in other films, whether it's the garage scene ("Roll Bounce") or scenes from other movies, so it's easy for me to go there. I think being angrier in dramatic movies will be easier for me.

BallerStatus.com: Do you have any future roles or films that you're thinking about taking on in the near future and how do you pick your roles?

Bow Wow: I'm always looking for a role that's a challenge. I hate when I'm watching rappers in movies, because it pisses me off when I see them still being the rapper and I try to stay away from that. Anything that's a challenge is something that I up for. Nobody knows this, but the craziest thing that I did not do was "Big Mama's House 3." They wanted me to be the role that Brandon T. Jackson played, but I passed because I was scared of that sh**. I feel like I'm ready to take my career to the next level, but it's all about making the right decisions and I feel like I made the right decision by not making that particular film. It's kind of like, if a role is not fit for you and you'll know if it's not because you'll just have that feeling once you read it, and that's how I felt.

BallerStatus.com: With all of your recent work in film and television, do you see yourself leaning more towards doing that for the remainder of your career, as opposed to continuing to make music?

Bow Wow: Most definitely; I don't see myself making no album until I'm 28 or 29 or 30. Hollywood is my exit plan with movies and television. I got sitcom right now with Cube; we just closed our deal, so you know we're getting it in right now. That's going to be my exit route out of music, but not my exit route out of the game, because I'm going to be in the game forever. I give the music one or two more albums and then I'll go do my thing.

BallerStatus.com: So are we going to stop seeing Bow Wow and start seeing Shad Moss in the film credits soon?

Bow Wow: Yea that's happening now. When you all see the Tyler Perry movie, that's exactly how it is.

BallerStatus.com: Aside from your most recent role in "Madea's Big Happy Family," what other projects do you have coming out in the near future in either film or music?

Bow Wow: On the movie front, I just got done doing this movie right here in New York called "Recall", and I'm about to go on tour today. I leave for Australia tonight for a tour with me, Snoop and Nelly. When I come back, I'm going to be doing another movie called the "Lone Fish Party" -- that's a comedy and then I'm doing the television show with Ice Cube and that should shut the year off. And, of course, get ready for this eighth album, my first Cash Money album. It's all about making big moves and getting it in there.