It's a testament to how far Ludacris has come that some of his admirers don't even know his name.
"I've gone certain places and people say they don't know me from my music," Luda said Monday via phone from L.A. "I'll be in the airport and they'll say, 'Hey, you're that guy from "Crash," ' but they don't know who Ludacris is."
Sunday night in L.A., Ludacris, Terrence Howard, Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock and the rest of the crew from the movie "Crash" received a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture (see "Reese Witherspoon, Philip Seymour Hoffman, 'Crash' Take SAG Honors").
"Last night was cool," he said. "It moved; it was a two-hour ceremony. The funny thing is that 'Hustle & Flow' and 'Crash' were both nominated in the same category. So it's weird because I had a seat at each table. I had a 40 percent [chance] at winning the last little award."
Luda has been in L.A. this month meeting with different directors and producers as well as attending awards ceremonies. Earlier this month, "Crash" also won a Critics' Choice Award for Best Acting Ensemble.
"To be honest with you, everything that's going on is still a really big learning experience for me," said Luda, who hopes his films will get recognition when the Oscar nominees are announced Tuesday morning. "It's one thing doing music and knowing exactly what the MTV [Video Music] Awards are, but I'm still soaking all this in because ['Crash'] is my second movie. Attending the Critics' Choice Awards and SAG Awards, I've heard of these awards before, but I never knew the importance of them or what level of importance they were in the movie world. It hasn't really set in that I won all these awards for the second movie I've ever done. All the actors I've come in contact with tell me I'm one of them now and how good a job I've done."
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Although Luda is in the midst of Hollywood politicking, he definitely hasn't lost his zest to make music. He said he's halfway done with his sixth LP, Release Therapy, which he plans to put out later this year, along with albums from his Disturbing Tha Peace artists Shareefa, Bobby Valentino, Playaz Circle and Field Mob.
"At this point, I have to take advantage of the timing and get in these producers' and directors' faces," he explained. "But at the same time I don't want anybody to get the wrong idea that I'm just gonna quit music. I'm trying to balance the two."
That balance got trickier on Tuesday morning (January 31) as the Oscar nominations for Luda's two films came in: Terrence Howard was nominated for Best Actor for his role in "Hustle and Flow," and "Crash" received four nods, including Best Director and Best Picture.
"Being a part of this phenomenal movie has taken me to heights that I only once dreamed of," Luda said about "Crash" via e-mail on Tuesday morning. "I'm thrilled that a film so raw and honest has been recognized. To be part of such a talented cast like this sometimes comes once in a lifetime, if it ever comes at all. I'm thankful to have been a part of the whole experience. This film more than deserves to be nominated as film of the year but should win because of its universal message broad appeal."
Asked if he'll be attending the Oscars on March 5, Luda gave a big "Hell yeah!"
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[This story was originally published at 7:52 pm ET on 01.30.2006]