If you ask Mario the singer about Mario the actor, he'll say he keeps his two professions completely separate — but the similarities just seem too hard to ignore.
After starring alongside Hilary Swank in "Freedom Writers" (see "Mario Sheds A Tear For 'Freedom,' Says He Wants To Direct"), Mario's loaded his next LP, Go! — now due July 17 — with an equally star-studded lineup of producers and songwriters, including Timbaland, the Neptunes and Akon.
If you ask Mario, though, just like working with Oscar-winning Swank, communication is the key when putting together a project with so many people involved. Other producers penciled in to work on Go! are Mr. Collipark, Sean Garrett, Dre & Vidal, Warren Campbell and Jim Jonsin.
"I worked with a lot of different people [for this album]," Mario explained. "And you got to talk with the writers and producers and really be in front of it and really give your perspective on things. That's the best way to go — be involved and creatively help to come up with certain situations that cater to who you are."
One of the new tracks is "Do Right," which Mario described as a more personal song based in part on his childhood growing up in Baltimore. Mario revealed to MTV News earlier this week that he and Akon collaborated on the song.
"I kind of went in and told Akon about a lot of the personal things I experienced," the singer said. "I didn't want to do a club record or like a fun record. I wanted to do a more serious record that would cater to some of the people who may have experienced what I have."
Similarly, now that he's tucked a few films under his belt, Mario is taking his time selecting the next role and is interested in more dramatic roles.
"I've been struggling with [picking] what to do," he said. "It's been difficult for me. Of course I want to do something that's top of the line and amazing, but I also don't want to rush and put myself in a pressured situation, 'cause it may not be pulled off as well. So I'm still really working on that. I'm still working on finding the right next role. Hopefully by the end of the summer I'll be shooting the next one."
Up next for Mario is the video for his lead single, "Breathe," which he said he'll shoot in two weeks with the song being released to radio by the end of the month. After "Breathe," the Polow da Don-produced "Crying Out" is slated as the follow-up.