Omar Epps Talks Tupac
This week Omar Epps appeared on radio station’s Power 105.1 morning show, The Breakfast Club. He talks about how he got his role in Juice, what he thought about his co-star Tupac Shakur and he speaks openly about growing up without his father being in his life.
Omar Epps, who is a Brooklyn native, went to school with fellow actor Marlon Wayans, who would go onto play Bugaloo alongside Tupac in the 1994 film Above The Rim. Omar has been in some big films such as the likes of Higher Learning, The Wood, Love and Basketball, Scream 2 and In Too Deep to name but a few. But he first got his big break in a film that not only launched his acting career but one of a then twenty one year old rapper, Tupac Shakur, in a film called Juice.
Host of The Breakfast Club, Dj envy, kicks off the discussion by asking his co-hosts Angela Yee and Charlamagne Tha God what their favorite Omar Epps movie is. Angela Yee chooses Juice, of course! “When I think of Omar epps, first and foremost I always think of juice”
When Omar is asked the same question he said “I don’t necessarily have a favourite but there’s nothing like the first, Juice was magical, me, Pac, Ernest Dickerson, Samuel L Jackson, Latifah. It was just a magical time for us, the culture of Hip Hop, it was crazy. I was seventeen when I did that joint”
When he auditioned for Juice, Omar was fresh out of high school, trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. He originally auditioned for the character Q, who he eventually plays, but it wasn’t that straight forward. The producers would move things around, calling people back to read for another character or play out different situations and pair people off to see the chemistry of the actors together.
After having saw thousands of people auditioning, wanting to play the four main character’s, Bishop, Q, Raheem and Steel. Remembering back to when he got the phone call from director Ernest Dickerson telling him that he has got the part of Q, Omar says he was very grateful and thanked him for choosing him. Straight after that phone call he rang his mother to tell her the exciting news, who, at the time, wasn’t as excited as her son. Omar explains “It didn’t hit her until we was at the premiere for Juice and we was sitting a seat away from Diana Ross!”
Thoughts soon turn to Tupac. When asked by Dj Envy of what Omar thought of Pac, he replied “He was a powerful, powerful brother. Theirs people you meet, doesn’t have to be a celebrity, that have an energy, an aura around them, that’s like larger than life, he was of them dudes”
Treach from Naughty By Nature, went to one of the auditions and read for the part of Q. According to director Ernest Dickerson he did a pretty good job. At the end of Treach’s audition, Ernest noticed that he had brought his friend with him to the audition. He asked his friend if he wanted to audition and he agreed. Ernest handed Treach’s friend the notes for Q, told him to go away and come back when he was ready to audition. He came in and did a good job.
But Ernest had another role that he thought might suit him better. He gave him the audition notes for Bishop. He did the same thing, went away, read them and come back in and blew everyone away with his audition. Ernest asked for his name, when he told him that it was Tupac Shakur, he asked if he was related to Assata Shakur, and when Tupac told him that she was his aunt, he was pleasantly surprised and told Tupac to give her his best wishes. As soon as Tupac left the audition, they knew that he had the role of Bishop.
Tupac’s character in the movie Juice is Roland Bishop. ‘Bishop’ as he’s known to his friends, is a troubled Harlem teen who’s stone cold thuggish ways tear apart friendships. He is driven by power and will do anything for it. Violence is a big part of Bishop’s life, looking up to gangsters and mafia type personas.
A lot of people think that Tupac never got out of the character of Bishop and that after playing Bishop, he seemed more angry in his music. Omar agrees to a certain extent, describing Tupac as being passionate about the hood and being a revolutionary, which was passed down from his mother Afeni Shakur. Omar reveals that every time Tupac used to travel he would always want to go to the hood first;, that’s where his heart was.
Omar goes on to talk about his father and how he was absent and only seeing him for four days, when he was twelve years old. His mother was strong and instilled confidence in him and he felt loved and valued because of her. His father walked out of his life, but for the most part of his life, Omar has tried to build a relationship with him throughout his life but concedes that his father didn’t know how to have it.
His father passed away recently with Omar not having the chance to say goodbye but he says he is at peace with the situation as he tried to reach out and that it was on his father that they didn’t have a relationship. He goes deeper in his book, ‘From Fatherless to Fatherhood’.