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June 2009
An Interview with Evan Ross

An Interview with Evan Ross
By Wilson Morales

June 8, 2009

The kid is out to show the world he can act. Growing up in a famous family has its ups and downs. Being the son of famed singer Diana Rossand brother to actresses Rhonda Ross Kendrick and Tracey Ellis Ross, Evan Ross knew that if he got in the world of entertainment, he would be expected to have
a leg up on his peers.

Just shy of turning 21, the Greenwich, Connecticut native has done quite a number of impressive roles in his short career. From playing a confused teenager opposite T.I in ‘ATL’ to being a drug addict with Queen Latifah in ‘Life Support’ amongst his films, Ross has tackled some issues that many can relate to.

In his latest film, ‘Life is Hot in Cracktown,’ Ross takes on the persona of yet another teenager lost in the world of drugs and violence. Starring opposite Kerry Washington, rapper Rza, Superman’s Brandon Routh, Shannyn Sossamon, and Illeana Douglas, the film is directed by Buddy Giovinazzo, which is based on his novel of the same name.

In speaking with Blackfilm.com, Ross talks about his reasonsfor doing the film, working with the cast, and his mom’s influence on

What attracted you to do this gritty film?

Evan Ross: I read the novel that Buddy Giovinazzo wrote and I was captivated by it. I felt that you don’t get many opportunities to play a role like Romeo. I wanted the opportunity to dive into something like that. I had auditioned for the role but on tape because I was shooting in New York and Buddy wanted to meet me when I finished my other project. We got along when we met and I decided I didn’t want to play the typical gangster. I wanted to see if it could be done differently where he was least vulnerable in some areas.

What did you do to get into character?

ER: Up onto the day of shooting, I didn’t know how I was going to play the role. I was trying to think of things that were scary
to me; or the idea that someone can be pushed to a level where there’s no happy ending. I wanted to take from that and from my own experience in life. Romeo starts off very small and things change very quickly like a ticking bomb. It’s almost as if he’s bipolar.

Coming from a famous family and growing up with a privileged background, you’ve chosen to take on roles that deal with a troubled teenager. Why so?

ER: I think it’s stuff that I find interesting. It shows a slice of reality. I grew up with a lot of great things and I have lived an amazing life with my family, but having the opportunity to play something I don’t know much about and diving into a character which I have no frame of reference is the whole point of acting. I’ve always felt that I’m connected to my emotions and I can understand people. I find that stuff interesting.

You’ve worked with Queen Latifah, T.I., Hilary Duff, and now you’re working with another musician, Rza. How was it working with him?

ER: He’s cool. He’s a character in himself. When he plays a role, he really challenges it and takes it full on. When you are a rapper, there’s always hesitation in taking on certain roles because of creditability, but Rza is one of those guys who doesn’t worry about what people will say. He’sa talented guy and can dive into anything. When I was in New York we bumped into each other for a seconds and he came up to me and gave me a hug. He’s amazing.

How was working the rest of the cast?

ER: Kerry Washington is phenomenal. We didn’t get to worktogether a lot in the film but she’s a friend of mine. I was just blown away by her performance. During shooting, I could see her dedication to the character. She’s so beautiful in the film. Victor Rasuk is a good friend of mine. We’ve been friends for a long time and to this day, we are still close. I’ve always thought he’s been incredible since ‘Raising Victor Vargas.’ It’s great to work with these people and be friend with them now. We’re able to find projects together now and develop some together. We had a great time.

What’s next for you?

ER: I’m writing a lot. I’m writing with Tony Kaye, who directed me in a film coming out called ‘Black Water Transit’ with Laurence
Fishburne. Tony Kaye also did ‘American History X’ and he’s just an astonishing, talented, visionary director. We got together and started writing on an idea I had. I also have ‘Great’ with Hilary Duff coming out as well. There are a few projects in the works now. I’m working on some music. I’m just being creative now and trying to find the best way to have opportunities to find characters like this to play.

You mentioned you were working on some music. What sort of music are you looking to do?

ER: I’m working with Dallas Austin. I’m working with my mom. I’m coming up with something new; similar to what’s now but taking some elements of Marvin Gaye and Prince. I’m not trying to push the music down as much. I’m just doing for me and when the right time, I’ll put it out. I’m in no hurry.

Do you use any of the social media networks to connect with fans?

ER: I wish I could say that I have, but I haven’t been. There are these fake accounts, and I actually was able to get a fake
Twitter account established in my name. I want to find a way to network with people and hear about what I should be doing, or what they find interesting, but I haven’t got around to doing that yet.

You’ll be turning 21 in almost two months. Will you doing anything special?

ER: Yeah, I might be doing a big, big birthday party. I enjoy the nightlife so I’m sure I’ll do something fun. I haven’t planned it all out yet, but I’ll figure it out.

Currently playing in New York City near Broadway is a theater production of ‘The Wiz’ with Ashanti playing Dorothy. Since your mother played the role in the film version, had you seen it recently?

ER: Of course. I’ve seen all of my mom’s films. She’s the reason why I do almost anything. Not only is she an amazing mom, but I’m a fan of her work and more recently I’ve been watching some of her stuff again and being able to step back and look at it from a different point of view. I loved ‘The Wiz’ and even until this day, young kids come up to me and say, ‘I saw your mom in the Wiz.’ People grew up on that film.

Why should anyone see ‘Life is Hot in Cracktown?’

ER: I feel that there are a lot of reasons why people would not want to because of what it’s talking about, but I feel that it’s an important film. It’s reality and there’s realness to it. There’s truth there. There are a lot of people in this world that are like these characters in the film. There are things that you may not understand personally. It’s good to be aware where the world is. We may not to see it or be a part of it, but it’s important to know that it’s there.


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