Keith Powers Talks Straight Outta Compton, Dr. Dre, and Superhero Equality
In a FilmFad.com exclusive interview, Pooya chats with “Straight Outta Compton” actor Keith Powers about the N.W.A. biopic, working with Dr. Dre, basketball in Sin City, superhero equality and much more.
That’s right FadFans, join us as we chat with rising star, Keith Powers, about everything from working with Dr. Dre on “Straight Outta Compton,” to which Marvel superhero he would love play.
So, without further ado… here is an exclusive look into the life of Keith Powers.
FilmFad: In your own words, tell me about “Straight Outta Compton.”
“Straight Outta Compton” is about a young group, by the name of N.W.A., that just wanted to tell their story. They didn’t know what they were doing or how they would change the game, they just said “we wanna give our point of view of what goes on in our neighborhoods and what we see. I want people to see that.” It ended up turning into one of the biggest hip-hop movements of all time. It created its own genre, the genre of “Gangsta Rap.” They were the first group to say curse words on records. I like to call this movie a reminder. I feel like as a Hip-Hop fan you need to be reminded. I feel like as an American you should be reminded and I think it came at a relevant time. Which is now, with all the police brutality and such.
FilmFad: I remember that that was a big part of the N.W.A.’s creation, the oppression they felt.
Of course they came together and they wanted to do something as a group, N.W.A. But, what really set it off was they were just telling what goes on in their neighborhood.
FilmFad: In “Straight Outta Compton” you play Dr. Dre’s younger brother, Tyree Crayton. How did you prepare for the role?
To prepare for Tyree, I just wanted to put myself in the little brother’s shoes. Because I was always the big brother so, you know what, let me find a way to put myself in a little brother’s perspective. I have a little brother. There were certain things he would do when I was growing up. He would copy little things that I did. What made this role so easy for me was that I grew up on Dr. Dre. So, he was already like a big brother to me without him even knowing. You know, like a mentor. Tyree, who I played, he looked up to his brother. Me, I looked up to Dre in real life. So it was just about admiring my brother. Tyree was also very overprotective of his brother and had a very short temper. He was an innocent kid, a young 17 year old just loving his brother, man. He was really part of N.W.A. in a sense. To prepare for it I just basically wanted to put myself into that little brother perspective.
FilmFad: Dr. Dre is known to be very hands on with the projects that he is either involved with or that reflect him. Did you get to work with him? If so, what was it like working with THE Dr. Dre?
Yes, I did get to work with Dre. He was on set everyday. He’s very calm and collected. He’s very humble. He listens. He’s very observant. The reason I think he’s so great is because he actually listens. Everything Dre does, he just listens. I know it sounds so simple, and too simple to believe, but he’s really just observant and listens. Thats why I think he’s so great. He doesn’t do too much talking. Even when you listen to his old music. The samples he was putting in his music. He was taking R&B samples, you know growing up listening to R&B, and mixing it with “Gangsta Rap.” That’s like genius. That’s taking music to whole another level. You’re taking a R&B sound and mixing it with this genre you would never think of mixing it with. Just to be on set with him to get pointers and advice… I really just wanted to be by him all day. He was like a real mentor, a real big brother. I was like, “Dude, I really look up to Dre.” He was on set everyday and he put his heart into it, so I feel like I had big responsibility to bring it.
FilmFad: You said Dre was on set everyday and since you’re playing his younger brother, was there ever a moment when he looked at you and said “you really captured that?”
When I first met him at the production office, he looked at me, I looked at him, he looked at my acting coach then looked at my acting coach and he looked back at me as was like “ahh, this is gonna be good. This is gonna be good.” What’s so crazy is that my middle name is actually Tyree.
FilmFad: Oh, wow.
I know. So when I told him that he was just like, “Wow.” I actually met his mom last night and she was that wowed as-well. It’s just crazy man. We have a relationship now, I got his number. He told me always to keep in touch, come by the studio and kick it. He definitely had those moments where I reminded him of his brother, you could tell. When I felt that, early before we shooting or anything, I went home and I called my momma and I was like “Mom, I really have a job. I really cant let Dre down.” I really can’t.
FilmFad: If you’re a fan of his music, which I am sure you are, you know what’ll happen to you if you don’t do him right.
I know right. I’ma get the bars.
FilmFad: When the movie was first being discussed there was a lot of controversy, old beef started resurfacing, and people didn’t want the movie to be made. Did you ever have sense of hostility or crazy encounters during filming? Any haters?
We definitely had those type of things on set. There was a couple of incidents when we were shooting in hoods and stuff would go down. Me personally, when I was on set, I never witnessed any of that. You get on set arguments and stuff like that, but nothing too crazy. I remember the first day of shoots in Compton close by set somebody got shot, but it had nothing to do with our set. It was just close by. Of course the Suge Knight incident when we were doing promotions for the movie, which I don’t know too much about. What I’ve seen is what I’ve seen on the internet just like anyone else. Like Easy E says in the movie and says back in the day, all publicity is good publicity.
FilmFad: He wasn’t lying.
Yeah, Exactly. When we would hear stuff that’s what everybody on set would say. Of course, respect to people who were in those incidents, who might have lost their lives or got hurt. Of course, Respect to their families. We couldn’t focus too much on the negatives. We had to just say hey, we gotta take it as a positive and keep shooting because everyone knew how great this is or could be.
FilmFad: You’re big into basketball, tell me about the Yahoo! Original Series “Sin City Saints.”
“Sin City Saints” is about this young internet billionaire who decides to buy an expansion basketball team, and that expansion basketball team happens to be in Las Vegas. It’s called the “Sin City Saints.” I play LaDarius Pope the first round rookie point guard draft pick. Basically, the series is based around this owner buying this team and it being a damn circus. He makes my character’s life a living hell throughout the whole season. Every-time he tries to make something right, he just takes two steps backwards making it wrong. So, that’s basically what it’s about. We have an amazing cast: Rick Fox, Baron Davis, Tom Arnold, Justin Chon, B.K. Cannon, Malin Akerman. I really feel like we have a crazy cast, our show is very funny. It was dope, you don’t have to be a basketball player to love this show. It was behind the scenes comedy of owning a basketball team, which is in the basketball world. So its cool, because if you love comedy and you don’t love basketball, you might learn little stuff about basketball just based off the show. We actually use modern names and modern situations, and stuff like that. It’s a very fun show and I love it.
FilmFad: The premise you talk about, it’s this younger billionaire kinda guy. Did you guys ever do any poking fun at Mark Cuban?
Yes, well actually that’s the thing. Jake Tullus, the owner, is actually based on Mark Cuban. They like to say Mark Cuban mixed with Donald Sterling but without the Donald Sterling racism, or racist remarks at least. That what Andrew Santino, who played Jake Tullus, he would like to compare his character to that. But, that’s exactly what he is. He just tries to make everything right , everything just goes wrong even more.
FilmFad: Since you’re a basketball guy yourself, did you guys ever do any off screen games just amongst the cast? And if so, who balled who up?
Oh my goodness. Man, there was so many people getting balled up. I know I was getting balled up. I’m rusty. Im just an actor now [Laughing]. I’m just an actor. But nah, it was fun. We had producers, everybody shooting. Playing twenty one. It was crazy. Man, it was really dope. Between scenes we really just shot. We would shoot hoops and just play basketball.
FilmFad: While filming for “Sin City Saints,” did you actually film in Vegas
Yes. Yes. I was out there for 7 weeks filming. Which was crazy because shooting in Vegas is crazy… because I was living in a casino for 7 weeks. It’s just wild, but it’s fun though. I mean, who wouldn’t want to live in Vegas, working on a TV show, getting paid. It’s just stuff you cant complain about. Of course I missed home, but it was just like damn, people would die to do this. It was fun man, I loved it.
FilmFad: I won’t ask you what you did there, you know what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
FilmFad: Superhero cinema is getting bigger and bigger and bigger, who would you be if you could play any superhero role?
Spiderman. I always make the case that I would love to bee first black Spiderman. I made that case so many times. I have a Spiderman toy next to my TV and I’m 23. So, that explains a lot. But yeah definitely, Spiderman. It’s just something about Spiderman that I love. He’s so charismatic. He has a great sense of humor. He reminds me of myself. If I was a superhero, I would be like Spiderman. Joking around. Be like skinny, I’m skinny. I just… definitely Spiderman. I would love to be Spiderman.
FilmFad: Would you be Peter Parker Spiderman, or would you be the newer rebooted Miles Morales Spiderman?
You just read my mind. Definitely, definitely would be the rebooted Miles Morales. I think you gotta keep Peter Parker, Peter Parker. You know, a lot of African Americans, they want more African American superheroes, which I agree with. But I feel like as a comic book fan, and I see where comic book fans come from. Some people just have racial remarks, but I see where some comic book fans get mad. Because it’s like, you take this character that already had an identity and you just switch his whole race. It’s kinda like “Wow?” It’s kinda weird. You grew up looking at him one race. I just feel like if they’re gonna do that they should do like how they do with Spiderman and came up with Miles Morales. Okay, so now you’re introducing something new and fresh. It’s better that way too because that way you get your own history. You can’t change Peter Parker’s whole race and stuff, you gotta keep that Peter Parker just what it is. I feel like that’s why I love Miles Morales so much. I’ve seen actually an episode, Childish Gambino does his voice for the cartoon. It was just super dope to see him. This is so new, and fresh and hip and I like that. That’s how it should be. I just think that that’s where sometimes comic book fans get mad. You can kinda understand where they’re coming from, but at the same time everybody’s got something to say.