JAY-Z, one of hip-hop’s most influential figures, has achieved staggering success and recognition in the music industry, but he hasn’t ventured into Hollywood as many of his peers have. In a rare interview with Complex to discuss his collaboration with legendary music video director Hype Williams, the Roc Nation mogul opened up about his reluctance to embrace an acting career, citing his “guarded” nature as the primary reason he has shied away from the world of film and television, especially as an actor.
During the interview, he addressed a long-standing rumor that he was set to play DMX’s character in Hype Williams’ 1998 film “Belly.” JAY-Z clarified, “That’s a rumor. Because of how guarded I was, I hated acting. This is why I don’t act because I would get in my way. I would be thinking, ‘No, I don’t wanna do something that I ain’t gonna look cool”.
He further explained, “But you know, I was young and immature. Or I was young mentally. You know, if you see our own movies, I was in for like 30 seconds and I wasn’t even speaking”.
While JAY-Z has generally shied away from acting, it’s worth noting that earlier in his career, he took on a role in the 1998 straight-to-home video film “Streets Is Watching,” which was released a few months before “Belly.” This 60-minute film, directed by Abdul Malik Abbott and co-written by JAY-Z himself, featured street vignettes and showcased songs from his debut album “Reasonable Doubt” and his follow-up “In My Lifetime, Vol. 1”.
Despite his reluctance to embrace acting, JAY-Z expressed admiration for his former rap rival, Nas, who made his acting debut alongside DMX in Hype Williams’ iconic film “Belly.” He remarked, “I had no idea how Nas did that because I felt like he was in the same place as me. But he did it and he made it work. But I never was meant to be in ‘Belly.’ I don’t even know where that came from”.
In the interview, JAY-Z also delved into his experiences filming big-budget music videos with Hype Williams, acknowledging that he may not have been the most coachable performer at the time. He noted that his guarded nature made it difficult for him to be directed effectively. He explained, “I don’t know if I was coachable as far as a performance at that time. I don’t know if anyone could coach me, you know, because I was so guarded”.
Despite his hesitance to step into the world of acting, JAY-Z has made a significant impact as an executive producer in the entertainment industry over the past decade. He’s been involved in the production of films and documentaries such as “The Great Gatsby,” “The Harder They Fall,” and “Rest In Power: The Trayvon Martin Story”.
Recently, this 53-year-old billionaire made a surprising return to Instagram to promote his latest project, “The Book of Clarence,” set to hit theaters in January. While he may not be pursuing a career in acting, JAY-Z continues to shape the entertainment world as a producer and influential figure in the industry.
Derek Chan – Editor