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The Tribeca Blog

Ludacris Live: Bridges on Stereotypes and Star Turns

By Elena Marinaccio

Perhaps only a week or so shy of completely perfect timing, Wednesday night’s Tribeca Talks discussion with rapper/actor Ludacris and rock journalist/moderator Lisa Robinson subtly reflected the inconsistencies between the mainstream media and hip hop, and highlighted the underlying bias in our culture’s interpretations of music and movies. Speaking on balancing his double roles in the entertainment industry, hip hop’s Ludacris, a k a indie film’s Chris Bridges (ostensibly present to promote his return appearance as the murderous Darius Parker on the season finale of Law & Order: SVU) touched on the undercurrent of racism and practices of censorship prevalent in the music and film industries (and all without a single utterance of the name “Imus”)


Lisa Robinson and Ludacris chat in Tribeca Wednesday night (Photo: WireImage)

But it wasn’t all staunch cultural commentary as Bridges' clips from Hustle & Flow and the Oscar-winner Crash were screened and the Atlanta-based rhymester-turned-role player described his rise to fame as a hip hop artist, writing his first verse at age nine, later being discovered working as a DJ for a local radio station and working as a “rookie” in the acting game:

ON BEING RECOGNIZED FOR HIS MOVIE ROLES: “I’ve sold over 10 million records and I’m just talking over the past 10 years, and people have known me as Ludacris. It continues to blow my mind when people say they know me from my movies and not my music, which means that I’ve made some good choices and I’ve been blessed to be in some very impactful films. “

ON THE STEREOTYPING OF MUSICIANS ON A FILM SET: “That stereotype is crazy: that all rappers show up late and that we smoke weed in our trailers; that we show up with six and seven people of an entourage all the time. It took me a while to realize, of course, but they would call me to set and I would be in my trailer just sitting there for, like, three hours wondering why I was never working for three hours before they called me on. They assume that I would be late every time so they would give themselves a window of three hours so that if I was late at least they had enough time for me to be there and that was their excuse. So I’m there on time, by myself all the time, no drugs in the trailer whatsoever, killing every single stereotype that they may have. And I started gaining their appreciation.”

ON AUDITIONING FOR JOHN SINGLETON: “At the time I was on tour with Outkast... and John Singleton called on me to try out for this movie 2 Fast 2 Furious. And I was on tour, and at the time it was so crazy I had to audition behind stage, like 15 minutes before I was about to go on stage. They brought a camera behind stage, I read my lines, and I got the part.”

ON HIS ALL-TIME FAVORITE FILMS: “Meet The Parents is one of my favorite movies. I love Will Ferrell and I love Ben Stiller like no tomorrow. I love to laugh and I love comedies. I love dramas, too. But stuff like Old School and Talladega Nights and all those movies. I watch them over and over again. Coming to America is probably my favorite movie of all time. I could say every single word in it. I love it to death. I made a song called 'Coming To America' I love it so much.”

ON PROFANITY IN MUSIC AND TELEVISION: “I feel like me losing my Pepsi contract because of an individual [Bill O’Reilly] who said my name and did judge me just for what I would say on a record, took [my words] out of context. Me losing my Pepsi deal, just for the words that I said, and then the people who picked up my Pepsi deal [are] the Osbournes. How can you say it’s not OK for this man to have a contract, but it’s OK for a man who bit the head off an animal, a man who has an MTV show which you have to bleep out every other word? And you’re talking about words that I’m saying in my music? It’s OK for him to have a contract with this corporation, but it’s not OK for me to have?"

Posted at May 4, 2007 11:35 AM

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