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April 2004
Johnson Family Vacation: An Interview with Bow Wow and Solange Knowles

By Todd Gilchrist

Johnson Family Vacation: An Interview with Bow Wow and Solange Knowles

Real life musicians Solange Knowles and Bow Wow, recetly spoke to Blackfilm about developing this family-oriented project and keeping a balance between so many different career options.

Solange, do you ever take family vacations like the one in this movie?

SK: No, usually, we pretty much take the plane route, and that takes off a lot of drama.

Bow Wow, what about you?

BW: Uh, I don't do vacations. Bow Wow and vacations just don't mix, because I'm not the vacation type of dude. Maybe [later], but right now, but right now I'm allergic to water and sand and stuff. I just can't do it. I'd just be ready to go home constantly. I'm a homebody.

Where's home?

BW: Home is in Atlanta, Georgia.

So how did you develop your characters?

SK: I know for me Nikki was a challenge, because she is very different in the way she expresses herself, with the clothes, the way she talks, with her attitude, getting attention from older men, so I just had to think of somebody who reminded me of Nikki, which is kind of insulting to them, but I just thought about that person as I spoke and everything.

Can you tell us who you thought of?

SK: No! They would kill me!

Bow Wow, what about your character?

BW: Basically, they just had this character in mind, and Christopher Erskine, the director, came to me and said "I have this cat I want you to play, somebody who just reminds me of Bow Wow, so go ahead and just be you." after that, I thought, cool, I don't have to adjust anything to portray this dude, I gotta be me, so I went in there and did what I had to do.

Were there any scenes, like the confrontation with the alligator, that you found particularly challenging?

BW: "The alligator scene was easy.

SK: The alligator scene was hard for me.

BW: What?

SK: Here's this little plastic thing that you know cannot even lick you or bite you or anything, and you're just screaming at it like you're seeing something deadly. So I had a hard time with it.

BW: That scene was real easy. I mean, we were all in a bed, everybody was just running around, and we weren't cooped up in that truck, so that was just real easy.

How are you dealing with the transition from adolescence to adulthood?

SK: You know what? When you're younger, you get shoved a lot. You don't really have a say-so, and even if you did want to, you wouldn't know about how to go about doing it because you're just so excited that you have this record deal or this movie opportunity that you don't stand up for yourself and say "this is what I want to do." And the more experienced you are and the more people you meet and the more confident you get in your artistry, you fight to say, "hey, this is what I want, and this is what I'm going to do," and you just have to stand up for it.

BW: I agree, definitely. That's just normal.

SK: That's just a part of life, and everybody has to go through that. Probably the only bad thing is we have to do it in front of everyone, and everyone has a say-so about the decisions we make, but the one thing that I have always had faith in is God, and at the end of the day, any decision I make is based on myself, and the only person I have to give an explanation to is God.

How did you develop the familial relationships in the film?

BW: Our relationship started since, I don't know, four years ago, and it's basically just built up to this point. We're real tight, real close, and when they told us we'd play brother and sister, we said "this is easy." Not a day goes by that we don't get in an argument, so we just went in there, and it was really natural for us, and I remember Chris asking, "you have to be mad at each other," and I knew that wasn't a problem. I'd just do one thing that irritates Solange and get her hot, and she'd go and do something to me, and we go on.

SK: I remember one time they yelled 'cut' and we were just going at it because we were really upset, and Cedric said "you gotta cut, because when we say cut you are still going," but we were like, this is some real stuff, we got some beef to work out.

Did the producers know you were acquainted when they cast you together?

SK: They didn't know. When we came in, we were like, "hey, what's up?" I call his mom 'mom' because she's like a mom to me, and I'm like, "hey mommy," and [the producers] are like, "huh?" They had no idea.

Do your music fans have to worry about you going the Hollywood route?

BW: Man....

SK: Both of us have decided to do both things.

BW: You have to, man, there's just so many opportunities that you can stick to one thing if you want to, but after a while you might get tired or you might want to branch off and open up a store, you might want to do a clothing line, you might want to do movies. Nowadays, the industry is so crazy, you've got to have a second thing, a back-up, another plan or something else. Me and Solange, since we're so young, and it's like there are so many opportunities out here, you've got to grab something and just roll with it. You've got to get it while you can.

What are the things that you do that your peers aren't able to enjoy?

SK: Traveling is definitely something that your average seventeen year old doesn't get to do. One week we're in Japan, one week we're in Australia, one week we're back home going to football games. I definitely think that's an advantage, because as you travel the world, you see different cultures, or you go to see these children with AIDS, that definitely matures you, and exposes you to a lot of things that give you a totally different outlook on life. You get educated by doing that. A lot of times people are like, "you guys should be in school, and you should do this. Why aren't you going to school?" but we are getting an education of a lifetime. We're actually out there in the real world. College is what prepares you for that and we are already paying bills, having responsibilities that most people don't have even when they're 24 and haven't graduated from college. So we're definitely blessed to have that.

What was it like working with Cedric?

BW: It was a ball. I know I had fun.

SK: Totally. BW "Just to have him around the set all of the time, everybody cracking up, me and Cedric playing PlayStation 2 and him getting mad at me and kicking me out of his trailer, it was fun all around. Energy was up and everybody was laughing and having a good time.

Solange, did you ever get in trouble from laughing while on set?

SK: I remember there was one point when I was supposed to be mad at [Cedric], and we're praying, and we're supposed to be upset because they're taking all day, a you're sitting here, just listening to [Cedric and Steve Harvey] just rank on each other, and they actually start just getting personal, so you just want to star going "ohhh!" but you have to be serious, which is really hard, but you've got to do it.

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