"Just Wright," which opened Friday (May 14), is Queen Latifah's fifth film as a producer. The hip-hop icon says that she tries to make each project reflect her reality — and that's how Common ended up cast in his first lead role.
"Every time that I do a movie, when I get into a position of power and my voice actually meant something, I realized that I could no longer walk out onto a set and look at a bunch of white males," she told MTV News. "That was just no longer acceptable. I need to see dynamics. I needed to see what I just came out of from walking off the street when I came in here. Where are the women? Where are the people of color? I need to see that in front of me, 'cause I just don't feel like it's right."
According to Latifah, Common was the perfect candidate for the role, but the witty MC still had to prove his mettle with the production team.
"There's a difference, man," Common said about being a leading man. " 'Cause I remember, specifically, my first [role] doing 'Smokin' Aces,' I got there at, like, 6 in the morning — I was sitting in the trailer, and I wasn't thinking about listening to music, 'cause I wanted to stay focused. I was just sitting there focused, and then they called lunch at 12, and I thought, 'Dang, they ain't doing the scene yet?' And then we went back, and then it was 5 o'clock, and they told me they didn't need me for the day, and I'd been zoning in the whole time! So I'm getting changed, and 20 minutes later they come back, 'Hurry up, get into the scene.' That let me know it's a roller coaster in this thing, and you just got to be prepared. But as a leading man, you're there, boom, you gotta be working every day."
Latifah said she hopes to continue promoting untapped talent to move up the ladder in Tinsel Town.
"If I'm here, if I made it here and I don't do my part to make sure that the set is more dynamic," she said, "and I don't mean hire unqualified people, but go find some qualified people in these areas and make sure when I look up I'm looking at a little bit more of a rainbow around here. 'Cause that makes me feel better. It makes me feel blessed to be in a position to do it."
Are you excited to see Common star in "Just Wright" with Queen Latifah? Let us know in the comments!
If you love Queen Latifah, check out "When I Was 17" — this week featuring Latifah, Drake and Jennie Finch — Saturday at 11 a.m. on MTV.