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March 2006
ATL: An Interview with Evan Ross

ATL: An Interview with Evan Ross

March 27, 2006
by Wilson Morales

When you come from an established and talented family like Evan Ross, it's assumed the boy's got good genes. Having Diana Ross as your mom and sisters (Rhonda, Tracee Ellis, and Chudney) who are all actors, it was only a matter of time before Evan settled into the family business, acting. For his first film, Evan has landed a key role opposite rapper T.I in music video director Chris Robinson's debut film, ATL. Ross plays Ant, the brother to Rashad (T.I) who gets caught in the wrong crowd while trying to earn some extra money on his own. In speaking with blackfilm.com, Ross talks about getting the role and working with T.I and Big Boi.

How did you get attached to this film?

Evan Ross: I was given the script and I already knew about the project so I was excited from the beginning. It was called "Jellybeans" at the time and I read the script and I just in love with it and I just fell in love with my character, I fell in love with the story and all the characters in the movie; just the whole relationship. I called my manager and told him, "You gotta get this, no matter what. Let's figure it out"; and he was like, "Oh right, slow down man. Go in for the audition and see what's up." I did it and I was called back the same day and I sat with the director Chris Robinson and we just vibed together and it was so great and I knew I had done my thing and I waited a few days and I wondered who could play my brother. Who looks like me? That was the only thing I was worried about and then they told me I was going to go in and read with T.I, and I was like, "That's perfect!" He could play my brother. We sat down and we really connected. It was a magic moment. It was meant to be.

Had the producers known you were an actor or were you looking to act?

ER: I had been working on my craft and I had been up for a few things and I was just trying to make the right decision on my first project and going into it I was working on my craft with Denise Dallison in the acting studio and doing all that stuff came into factor. I had gotten scripts from my manager and my agent, and it was about reading them and seeing what I thought.

How was it working with T.I?

ER: It was great. Being that it was his first time acting as well, we automatically bonded. We were both passionate about the project, and it was our first picture and it came out the way it was supposed to be. Not only that, but if you get to meet him and see him outside of the music world, he's such an old spirit and a wise person and I've learned a lot from him. I got to know him on a personal level and I think it came off on screen.

Is there anything in the character you played that you can relate to?

ER: You know, it's funny because the character wasn't so much a stretch. You have to put your feeling and add yourself to the character and I think all kids deal with tough decisions, life changing decisions at a young age. You make decision when you go down the right path and the wrong path and I feel as though as adding my feelings, and I feel different things, we all experience feelings and I wanted to make sure it came off in the character. Becoming this character, T.I helped me out a lot. He showed me around the neighborhood. I was scared, a little nervous to go to the hood with him, but he made me feel comfortable and I was able to learn about it from that point of view.

How was filming in Atlanta?

ER: It was great. It was beautiful out there and the hospitality was great. When people see this movie, they won't realized that there are people out there that go out and skate and they are such a powerful group of people. It's beautiful. It's their one time to get away from everything and just have fun.

What the best scene you liked in the film?

ER: I loved the last scene. Working with Mykelti (Williamson) was a big thing for me. I love him as an actor and as a person I've learned so much from him. Just being in the movie with him is an inspiration to me. Everybody calls it the "cutty" scene, where we are eating, and it's me and T.I and Mykelti. I also loved that the end scene with me and T.I and I'm laying in bed and he's seating there and we have this conversation. It's a real intimate moment and we had gotten close by that time. It came off really well and it was a real moment for us and I feel that we really put ourselves in that position and I really loved that scene. When he left the room and walks down the hall and talks about tough love, that's my favorite statement and I liked everything about it.

When you come from a family of talented people was this something you've always wanted to do?

ER: Ever since the beginning of time. Ever since I was born and my mom has been doing it forever and my sisters have done it forever and it was about when I would be ready. My mom has been strict in knowing that you have to know the craft and not only that, but to be aware of the business because it's dangerous and scary, and to be aware of yourself and know yourself well enough that you are not going to get stuck in that.

Do you have another project lined up?

ER: I actually do but I'm not going to really talk about it until I start shooting. I'm doing PDR with Terrence Howard and I'm really excited about that and hopefully I'll be able to play this tough character that I can add different parts of myself. Bernie Mac is in the movie as well.

What did you learn from Director Chris Robinson?

ER: I learned a lot of things. I feel like his professionalism was something I really got in touch with. I saw his work ethic and how passionate he was about the project and he made sure we stayed close and had that real friendship in line. I think that's what's real and I learned a lot from him and I think he's incredible.

How did you want to approach your character? Was there anyone you modeled the role after?

ER: You take different pieces of different things you've seen in anything. It's that inner conflict and wanting more than what is in front of you, just not knowing how to go about it; and I saw that in the character from the get go when you see me in front of the mirror and he's dreaming of being more than what he has. He has no one that has done anything big that he can look up to, so the person he does look up to was the wrong influence, and that was played by Big Boi.

How was working with Big Boi?

ER: I thought it was great. I'm a big fan of his work. Everything he does as a performer and just in fashion, he dresses so different and so unique. His whole style has helped me as a young man; learning how to be comfortable and being different and wearing different types of clothes came with that and that's what makes you cool.

Why should we go see "ATL"?

ER: Go see "ATL" to really see the whole vibe of Atlanta. I think kids should go check this out because it's right now and I'm sure a lot of kids are dealing with the same issues and it needs to be talked about; and at the same time there's a lot of fun parts about this movie and I feel that you can relate to these characters, which is what's great.

ATL opens on March 31st, 2006

For more info on the film go here.


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