Samuel L. Jackson said recently that he was tired of people from the musical side of the entertainment industry taking the big-screen roles from seasoned, formally trained actors.In nearly the same breath, two rappers who’ve traded in their mics for scripts fill enough seats in their film’s opening weekend to top the box office charts.With production companies constantly churning out movies like “Barbershop,” his point may never be fully felt.In a world where a rapper who has sidetracked his way onto the screen can sell out theaters across the country, I say don’t fix what isn’t broken.”Popular musicians make for popular films,” is the reasoning Entertainment Weekly writer Dave Karger used for the success of “Barbershop, “the top-grossing movie over last weekend.I wouldn’t go quite that far.Films like “Glitter” quickly flash through my mind.While Mariah Carey has scored more No. 1 hits than many of her female counterparts.Her first outing as the lead in a movie was a total disappointment. It was described as the worst commercial flop to hit movie screens in years.You also have “Friday,” which has amassed hundreds of millions of dollars and still has people hollering “You got knocked the f-k out, man!”Jackson’s stance: the rappers are screwing people out of their dream jobs.”I know there’s some young actor sitting in New York or in L.A. who’s spent half of his life learning how to act and sacrificing to learn his craft but isn’t going to get his opportunity because of some ‘actor’ that has been created,” Jackson told the Sacramento Bee in July.True, many artists have been added to movies to sell tickets, but who doesn’t have dollar signs in mind when they set out to make a movie?Aaliyah’s face probably brought millions of fans – still mourning over her death – to catch her last screen performance in “Queen of the Damned.”Would you have gone to see “Baby Boy” had it not been singer/model Tyrese Gibson in the starring role as Jody?Many people say no, and the movie made millions on name recognition alone.Maybe it’s the fact that few actors have been able to make their foray into the music world and have their name hide the fact that they can’t carry a tune.J. Lo is one of the few to do so.People attempt the killer crossover all the time.But you didn’t hear Ja Rule hating on Roy Jones Jr. when his album dropped.It was just me and the other millions of people who slept on it.Maybe there are some underlying issues waiting to surface with the whole Samuel L. Jackson thing.Maybe he’s mad that L.L. Cool J rocked a Kangol first?Or maybe there’s an R&B album sitting somewhere on a shelf collecting dust with Sammy’s bald head gracing its cover.And it never made its way to the record stores.
Marlon A. Walker, 21, is a senior newspaper journalism student from Detroit. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .