By PETERSON GONZAGA
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Chanel Iman and Quincy Brown are familiar with the entertainment scene but are newbies in the acting world. As a world-renowned fashion model that has graced the pages of Vogue and other high-end magazines along with modeling the best fashions worldwide, Iman has delved into the world of acting with her first acting role in writer/director Rick Famuyiwa’s “Dope.” Quincy Brown also has had a bit of the limelight shown on him being the son of rapper Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and the biological son of Al B Sure, the R&B singer known for his hit song “Night and Day.”
Brown has a little bit more experience than Iman with at least four films under his belt and a guest role in “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” He has dabbled in music with his first single release in 2012, “Stay Awhile.” And he was featured in K-POP artist Kia’s song “Incredible.”
Taking on the title of audience favorite at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and an official selection at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival Director’s Fortnight, “Dope” is destined to make Iman, Brown and their cast mates known to a broader audience. In the film, the lives of Malcolm (Shameik Moore) and his best friends Diggy (Kersey Clemons) and Jib (Tony Revolori), quirky nerds who love ‘90’s music in South L.A., turns upside down when they attend a birthday party of drug dealer Dom (A$AP Rocky). When a drug sting operations occurs, Malcolm and his friends set off on a comedic yet dangerous adventure across the City of Angels. Their escapade leads them to Lily (Iman) and Jaleel (Brown), resulting in even more mayhem.
Wearing a two-piece black top and skirt ensemble, Iman and red-striped shirt wearing Brown speak to a group of journalists about their experience making the film and what they’re up to next.
Q: Chanel, how difficult was it for you take off your clothes in the film?
Iman: It was very private. For me, shooting topless is not a big deal because I’ve been in the fashion industry for nine years. I’ve worked on shoots where I was topless and it’s art. I was very comfortable on set. I wanted to take on this role of Lily because I had no make up and I looked really rough. I think people are used to seeing me put together (so) I just wanted to play something messed up, and she was perfect.
Q: It’s somewhat unusual for a fashion model to allow herself to look so unkempt on film.
Iman: I know. That’s why this is special to me. People aren’t going to expect this from me. They’re going to think I’m going to do a girl-next-door role. That’s not what I’m into at all. I love looking at myself messed up. The more messed up I look, the cooler the film for me. The more interesting it is for me.
Q: Models have a history of taking interesting acting roles?
Iman: I feel right now, models are trying to get into the film world but not everyone is good. I really worked hard to get this part and I think I’ve gotten great feedback. People seem to find me very funny.
Q: For you, Quincy, you’ve been going back and forth between acting and music. Are you trying to do a hybrid of both?
Brown: It really wasn’t a back and forth thing. It almost seemed like that doing the music. It could be created and delivered very quickly. With films, you have post-production and it could take a year or two to finish. With the acting side, it’s definitely a passion of mine because that’s what I want to take on and as the music as well. It just so happens that in the preparation of perfecting my craft, musically, and with the film, everything is happening at once. So now everything is tag-teamed at once and sharing the focus. It’s not like I’m taking a break from music to do acting. It’s almost that the time spent in each industry complements each other. I’m blessed to be in the position that I am in.
Q: You recently worked with KPOP artist Xia. Are you planning to work with any KPOP stars in the future?
Brown: Yeah! The more and more music develops, I’m down to work with anybody. I’m definitely trying to become an international music artist. Not just limiting myself traveling domestically, I definitely want to go overseas and master my craft (abroad) as well. Everyone knows that overseas the whole market is a different ball game. Very soon I’ll be ready for it.
Q: How did you prepare for your role in “Dope?”
Brown: I read about (my character) and gave him a little back-story and knew he was similar to me in a sense that he loves the music and wants to be this music guy. He has a wealthy family. His father’s powerful. I was able to add a little to those things. Me personally, I’m not a gangster type. I’m not threatening and intimidating, but I know a lot of people who are that and a lot of people who try to be that. So I had to look at both and mesh the two, because at the same time I wasn’t faking as the actor, the character Jaleel. He was preaching and knew he was this gangster. But sometimes reality hits you and sets you back and let’s you know what’s the real deal. It wasn’t really about trying to (put up a) front. It wasn’t a front. It was true to him and that was kind of fun to explore. We could to 5,7,8,9 different takes and do different things. It’s not about one way to do it. Whatever the director says and however you choose to act, you’ll have better selections, different lines and angles. Everything matched up pretty fun.
Q: So did he outrun the cop or…?
Brown: “Dope 2” coming soon.
Q: Chanel, how many takes did you have to take for the scene where your character throws up?
Iman: It was rice pudding. I did about 10 or 15 takes. They had to set that up with different cameras. Shameik—he was a trouper.
Q: What was it like working with Rick Famuyiwa, the director?
Iman: It was a pleasure working with him. He was so cool. We see his vision first and he allows us to get creative and have our own voice just to make it happen together. I think that’s why the film is so successful because he worked with us.
Brown: (The fact that we) were newcomers really helped. He almost treats us like children of his because we’re new. I think if he was stern, it would kind of get someone nervous. If she’s nervous, she’ll make me nervous. We feed off each other’s energy. With the open line of communication between the producers, Rick, (executive producer) Pharrell Williams and (producer) Forest Whitaker, what they did was magical. Just their conversation let us go. I think that’s what translated so well.
Q: Chanel, your character urinates outside, were those extras on the street or just regular people in the crowd?
Brown: It was a real street.
Iman: Yeah. They actually had (stunt) cars and I did my own stunt. They had it timed when I would run between the cars. Usually, they used doubles for that, but I’m like, “Yo, I want to do everything by myself. I want to go on the side of the road and I want to go…” They just let me do it. I got out of my car, ran across the street and pulled this invisible string that you can’t see and it was just water. There was a thing attached to my back and a string that went between my legs. It’s so Hollywood. That’s what makes it fun for me to play Lily. I went into the props truck and I was looking, “What is this? Can I use this? Can I use that?” It was so much fun.
Q: Do you know someone like Lily?
Iman: I’ve seen a Lily for sure. I don’t hang out with a Lily but I see a Lily all over the place.
Q: So do you think they’ll be a hashtag for the scene after the movie opens?
Iman: Yeah. I think people will be saying, “I want that Lily.”
Q: Quincy, in “We The Party,” you played a sort of bad guy role and others you were a more chill kind of guy. Do you see yourself wanting play more bad guys or good guys?
Brown: it’s funny you say that. I didn’t realize that. It’s true. The couple of roles I’ve gotten are all bad boy roles in different kinds of cons…. like one is a super bad kid and one is a wannabe bad kid. I think that’s something that’s very very close to me that I can stretch a little and master that. I definitely want to be able stretch a little further and do some dramatic and action roles. I think this is a good start for me as the bad boy. I definitely don’t want to get locked into that bad boy role (though) because I know my potential is larger than and greater than that. If I have to gain some weight and lose some weight, whatever it is I have to do, I’ll do that.
Q: You may be the heir apparent to The Rock (Dwayne Johnson)?
Brown: That’s my favorite person in the world.
Q: What makes each one of you dope?
Brown: We just have so many things going on. I think what dope is, is so many things combined into one word. All positive adjectives. Cool. Crazy. Fun. Swag. I think dope defines everything.
Iman: Okay, how about if we do this. I’ll say what’s dope about me and you say what’s dope about me. What makes Quincy dope, is he is the coolest person to be around. His energy is positive, uplifting, you-can-do-it attitude. His music, his talent, his acting—he’s just dope.
Brown: I’ll you this about Chanel. She’s beautiful, amazing. She likes to eat. I like to eat. We went out to lunch a couple of times and she’s eaten more than I have. I’m like, “How do you do it?” She’s funny once you get to know her. She may be truer than just a beautiful woman. She’s a kindhearted soul. During (production), she would allow me to help her. Some people would say no because they had their acting coach with them. She had her acting coach with her but she said, “I’ll (practice with) you too.” She was down for it. She was welcoming. She likes the simple things in life, beach views and stuff like that.
Iman: (to Brown) How do you know that? Okay, I’m blushing.
Q: What you working on next?
Iman: I’m really involved in fashion and doing shoots all the time. I’m going to Africa very soon, traveling, being young and trying to book another movie.
Q: Are there models who turned actors that you want to emulate?
Iman: Charlize Theron. She modeled in Africa.
Q: What are you favorite rap songs or artists from the 90s?
Brown: A Tribe Called Quest (and) Ice Cube.
Iman: Tupac, Biggie (and) Aaliyah.
Brown: There’s so many. Craig David. I grew up in my household with super old school music. I caught onto the ‘90’s music right after the ‘90’s because I was like more into Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross (and) Barry White. I actually lived in Columbus, Ga., so that’s what my grandmother and her friends were listening to. That’s all it was. I’m grateful for that because I love that music still today. It’s one of the greatest music (genres) ever.
Q: What’s your guilty pleasure on TV?
Brown: My grandmother—she passed away last year—definitely got me hooked to those crime shows and I hate it but I love it. I’m scared watching it and to go downstairs when they have the shows that talk about what really happened then the shows that re-enact it. All that kind of stuff is my guilty pleasure.
Iman: “Orange Is the New Black.”