Ashanti 'Brings It' In 'Coach Carter,' Co-Stars Say

Actress shines in first role but draws the line at short shorts.

By all accounts, Ashanti has been an angel on the set of "Coach Carter." However, there was one diva moment: When the wardrobe department suggested a pair of shorts that the young singer/actress felt were a little bit too short, she said, "Uh-uh."

"I'm not [being] particular, because it's a movie and you have to be what the character is," Ashanti explained later. "I'm just not necessarily going to show my goods off."

Ashanti would rather show off her acting goods. She's invested too much emotion in her character to sell it with sex.

In her first movie role (see "Ashanti Lands First Big-Screen Acting Role"), Ashanti plays Kyra, the girlfriend of a basketball star coached by the film's title character, who is portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson. Kyra and Kenyon, her boyfriend (played by Rob Brown), have a rocky relationship to begin with, and it only worsens when she learns she's pregnant.

"When I read this script, I said to myself, 'Wow, I can really relate,' " Ashanti said. "I've known so many people who have gone through that situation, and it's real. It sends a message that teens are dealing with problems just like adults."

According to her co-stars, Ashanti nailed the role.

"The last scene was an emotional scene — Kenyon and Kyra are at a dance, arguing about having the baby — and she brought it," said Brown, who also played a basketball star in "Finding Forrester." "You'll see this young lady depicted very realistically. [I give] so much credit to Ashanti because she held it down for her first movie."

"She's got the right attitude," Jackson added. "If you can't come onto a movie set and have a lot of fun, then you really don't need to be in this business."

Jackson has spent a lot of time on the set sharing advice with Ashanti and the rest of the young cast, which includes 3LW's Adrienne Bailon (see "3LW's Adrienne Joins Ashanti In Flick; 'Cheetah Girls' Gets Delayed").

"Naturally, they all talk to me about 'Pulp Fiction,' " Jackson said. "Occasionally they'll come in talking about another film, but that's the one that they kind of live by. They all come in quoting it. They ask what it was like working with Quentin [Tarantino], how was it being with John [Travolta], the preparation process. Just little stuff like that."

Brown, who spent weeks at a basketball camp preparing for the film, describes Jackson as "the master," although some days the newcomer's more interested in resting than learning.

"Fourteen-hour days kissing Ashanti, that'll get you beat," he joked.