December 2002
Drumline : Nick Cannon - A Young Man with a Mission

Interviewed by Shelby J. Jones

Nick Cannon stars as Devon, a gifted drummer who is determines to shine on the show-style marching band drumline.Drumline : Nick Cannon - A Young Man with a Mission

PHILADELPHIA, Pa., Dec. 3 – When Nick Cannon enters the room, something special is about to happen.

Making his motion picture debut in DRUMLINE, from Twentieth Century Fox, Nick Cannon is about to propel himself directly into your hearts with his hip-hop class and firm understanding of art. Chilling with the press can sometimes be an uncomfortable or demeaning experience for some stars, but Cannon strode into the room giving up love and appreciation as we adorned on him for his charming and inspiring performance as Devon in Drumline. Nonetheless, Cannon is no stranger to the limelight. Cannon is the creator and executive producer of his own show, “The Nick Cannon Show” on Nickelodeon and also had a turn this week as a presenter at the glitzy-glam Billboard Awards which aired on Fox.

Sitting with Cannon and experiencing his youthful passion for entertainment is refreshing. There is a scene in the film where Cannon’s character, Devon, wants to tell his mom about something disturbing that happened at his new university. I asked Cannon how we was able to so effectively deliver the performance via phone to a character that we, the audience, never sees nor does Devon. “That scene was very real for me. Basically, I’m a mama’s boy, so I just imagined what it would be like if I had to call my moms and tell her something that I really didn’t want to say.” Asked on his motivation to thrive in such a volatile business, Cannon answers with conviction. “I have younger brothers and my number one motivation is to really Devon (Nick Cannon, center), Diedre (Candace Carey) and the rest of the show-style marking band drumline endure the rigors of a role model. So even in my music and with the “Nick Cannon Show,” I always think about how what I do can inspire them. And show them as well as other young people by being a good example. You can be anything you want to be. It doesn’t matter where you are from. So long as you have faith, you can make it.”

When watching Cannon twirl the drumsticks and kick it with the band, his presence will electrify you. “Handling the drum sticks and understanding the rhythms of a marching band was hard but fun. Before we started filming, I was actually in training for about a month and a half.” Everyone remembers the child Devon (Nick Cannon) strikes up a romance with upperclassman Laisa (Zoe Saidana)prodigy rapper, poet turned all out gangsta, Tupac Amaru Shakur? Well, imagine that Cannon encompasses a room like Pac, can handle the mic (new single in stores February 2003 called “Ya Pops Don’t Like Me” on Jive Records), has his first starring role, then you would have a new-aged version of a positive Pac. Cannon says Tupac was definitely one of his most favorite musicians but he also has a profound appreciation of classic R&B, Soul from the 70’s and 80’s. If you hate the comparison of this young cat to Pac, wait until you see Cannon throw down a few lyrics in the film. The scene was there and I just free-styled and they kept it in the film says the young prodigy.

I remember leaving the interview that day. It was cold and I had read a few stories about some young brothers getting in trouble for robbery. I thought about how young Nick Cannon is and what he said about being a positive role model to his young brothers. I became sad actually at the thought of how many young, black men don’t have the opportunity to have a big-brother like Cannon. Oh the lives that would be spared. In closing the interview with Cannon, I simply wanted to know what this young man thought about the film industry, music and all the ills of African-Americans in these professions. Sporting a wool hat and a platinum chain with “praying hands, ” Cannon spoke like a well, traveled artist. He said, “ I think our development in film and music sort of reminds me of the Harlem Renaissance. It's like the industry is really about true art, more quality and basically weeding out the impostors.”

All I could think was, well done Mr. Cannon, well done.