“I needed this film. I wasn’t feeling as empowered in my career as I wanted to,” she revealed to EUR/Electronic Urban Report. I needed this role. I wanted something that felt raw and grounded in reality and powerful and connected.”
And she found that and more while working on “All Eyez on Me.”
Graham stars as Jada, who was a longtime friend of the iconic rapper. Smith and TuPac first met in high school at the Baltimore School for the Arts and remained close friends until his untimely death twenty years ago.
“I had actually, coincidentally, chopped off all my hair on New Year’s Eve, and then I got the call, I think the next day, to go in and read for Jada. It’s almost like I instinctively knew on some level, cause I never cut all my hair off before. I was pretty much already falling in line with the imagery of Jada Pinkett.”
Graham joins newcomer Demetrius Shipp Jr. as TuPac, Jamal Woolard plays Biggie Smalls, and “Walking Dead” star Danai Gurira stars as Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur.
“I’m humbled to be a part of it,” Graham said, adding that “people will learn a lot from this film. I think it’s coming out at a great time.”
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Produced by L.T. Hutton, with music video director Benny Boom serving as director on the film, Graham said she reached out to Jada prior to filming because she wanted to be “sensitive” to how she portrayed the actress. But as it turns out, she didn’t actually get a chance to speak with Mrs. Smith until after she completed filming.
“I literally wrapped my scenes the week that she called me. So I didn’t talk to her until after I wrapped the film. Which is probably a good thing because I relied on the work that Demetrius and I did together, and the work with Benny and L.T., for this film,” Graham said.
Continuing, “One thing she did say that was so profound that stuck with me was, I asked her, ‘What can you tell me about your relationships with Pac.?’And she said, ‘You know what, only Pac could really tell you exactly how he felt about me. Because if I told you, it would be something different than what he experienced, and only he could be the one to really tell you.’ ”
To help gain further insight into Jada and Pac’s friendship, Graham studied their relationship through “photos of them or interviews where they talk about each other.”
“I was basically piecing together what their relationship could’ve felt like. With the way the scenes were written, I worked within that context.”
TuPac paid the ultimate price for the gangsta life that he embraced in his music. Shakur was gunned down in Las Vegas on September 7, 1996 and died six days later. His murder has never been solved.
Pac’s mother was a former Black Panther, something Graham found quite surprising to learn while working on “All Eyez on Me.”
“I didn’t know his mother was a Black Panther. I didn’t know that his mother was this incredibly strong, powerful, influencer of his life, and one who was so outspoken. That was really incredible for me because, in a weird way, I didn’t connect the two. I didn’t connect the two that TuPac’s outgoing nature, and how fierce he was when it came to injustice, came from his mother. That was really cool for me to learn.”
She also learned that being a powerful and fearless figure, like Pac and his mother, is “celebrated,” and this can oftentimes cause Hollywood to come calling.
“I learned that you will not only be celebrated for being powerful and standing up for yourself, but maybe somebody will make a movie about you.”
“All Eyez on Me” is the true and untold story of the prolific rapper, actor, poet and activist — and chronicles his early days in New York to his status as one of the world’s most influential voices.
Graham is hoping the film will give people “an even deeper, more profound understanding of this man and how relevant he is even now in 2017.”
“He has just as loud of a voice now (than) he did before he passed,” she said, noting that “All Eyez on Me” is both entertaining and enlightening.
“If you’re going to see more of TuPac’s story and how he became who he became, then you’ll see that in this movie. If you’re going to see this man fight against the system and stand up to people that are trying to take him down, and him turning political or him becoming this super empowered African American man in a white man’s America, you’ll get that in this movie. So I really feel like people going to this movie are going to get everything that they go to the movies for.”
Kat Graham will release her sophomore album “Love Music Funk Magic” on June 2. She co-wrote and co-produced the album with Grammy award-winning producers and songwriters Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Prince and French artist Jean-Yves “Jeeve” Ducornet.
“I didn’t even know what to call the album while I was putting it together,” she told EUR. “I have a board in my room where I write down my projects and my songs that needed to be completed, and I’m like, ‘I need to figure out the name of this album.’ So I just thought of what I wanted it to be about and what I wanted it to feel like and I just wrote: love, music, fuck, magic at the top and I left it there, and I never changed it. I was like, ‘Well, I just can’t think of anything better than that. It should be just as simple as that.”
Grahams says “Love Music Funk Magic” is a “fun” and sexy blend of R&B, “disco, funk, and pop.”
In addition to her role in the anticipated Tupac bio, she’ll also co-star in the comedy “Where’s The Money” with Terry Crews, Mike Epps and Method Man set for release later this year.