Chicago Red Carpet: Common on His Lead Role in ‘Just Wright’

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CHICAGO – The rapper and actor Common came back to his hometown of Chicago last week to participate in the red carpet premiere of his new film, “Just Wright,” co-starring Queen Latifah and Paula Patton (”Precious”).

The Red Carpet included Bobby Simmons, a real New Jersey Net NBA star who was in the film with Common, and several members of the Chicago Bears. Admirers filled the lobby of the AMC East as the musician, film star and activist Common brought his electricity to the room.

Just Right for Chicago: Common at the ‘Just Wright’ Premiere, April 28th, 2010
Just Right for Chicago: Common at the ‘Just Wright’ Premiere, April 28th, 2010
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for talked to Common, and Ace Photographer Joe Arce took the pictures. Having come from a middle class family from Chicago, how did you connect with your character’s New York inner-city past?

Common: In my character’s background he was born in Chicago, but he moved from there in his first year of high school because of a lot of trouble going on. I connected with his past by rooting him in Chicago and then I learned a lot about what New York basketball is like. I talked with my man Kenny Smith, who is a former NBA player and analyst on TNT, to find out all that I could about New York basketball, and it wasn’t that far off from Chicago basketball.

Another Perspective on Common at the ‘Just Wright’ Premiere
Another Perspective on Common at the ‘Just Wright’ Premiere
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for

HC: What challenges do you find in acting that is different than your music performance career?

Common: The challenge in acting is first of all, you relinquish power. You have to understand you are part of a team and a piece in a puzzle. When a script is written, they want a character to be a certain way, so you’ve got the character that way. Then you have to take your creativity, along with the director’s vision, and what’s written on the paper, to turn it into the character. After you do as much as you can, you just give it your all. If the director says that’s the last take he wants you to do, the editor can then put in what they want, but you have to give up the power.

Common’s Co-Star Queen Latifah During an Appearance at Macy’s for Her New Fragrance, ‘Queen,’ November 28, 2009
Common’s Co-Star Queen Latifah During an Appearance at Macy’s in Chicago for Her New Fragrance, ‘Queen,’ November 28, 2009
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for

HC: What song that you have written says the most about you as a person and why?

Common: I think ‘The Light’ would be a song that I feel says a lot about me because it’s a love song. It talks about love but in it you can feel the real human being in it, the man in it. But that man is open hearted.

HC: You are an activist and participated in the ‘Yes We Can’ video. What did the election of Barack Obama mean to you as a man and American?

Common: It gave me hope in America, it gave me hope in certain aspects of my life, it made me believe that anything is possible and anything can be achieved with the right state of mind, the right heart and God on your side, you can win. I’ve really seen that happen. I’ve seen hope in the eyes of people I know and that I love, from my daughter on to my mother. I love that it happened. I don’t get into much of the politics as I do what it has morally done for the people. Barack Obama is doing the best he can with everything that is going on and he’s going to keep changing the world in a positive way.

”Just Wright” opens everywhere May 14th. Featuring Queen Latifah, Common, Paula Patton, James Pickens Jr., Phylicia Rashad and Pam Grier, written by Michael Elliot and directed by Sanaa Hamri. Rated “PG senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Senior Staff Writer

© 2010 Patrick McDonald,

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