Erica Pinkett

EXCLUSIVE: Erica Pinkett Talks Starring In 2Pac Biopic ‘All Eyez On Me’ & Possible Return To Reality TV


(AllHipHop Feature) Tupac Amaru Shakur will finally be immortalized in a major motion picture. Film producer L.T. Hutton, director Benny Boom, Morgan Creek Productions, and the 2Pac estate joined forces to create the forthcoming biopic All Eyez On Me.

The movie’s cast includes Demetrius Shipp as Tupac, Danai Gurira as the Hip Hop icon’s mother Afeni Shakur, Kat Graham as Pac’s longtime friend Jada Pinkett, Harold House Moore as the legendary producer Dr. Dre, and Dominic L. Santana as former Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight. All Eyez On Me will also feature acting newcomer Erica Pinkett portraying Ayanna Jackson, the 19-year-old woman that accused and helped convict Tupac of sexual assault.

Her theatrical role in the contentious 1994 case will be Pinkett’s first turn on the big screen. Television fans may be familiar with the Boston native from Love & Hip Hop Atlanta, but Erica is ready to move beyond just being tagged a reality show star.

Pinkett’s journey to Hollywood officially began when she left Atlanta for Los Angeles in order to attend self-financed acting classes. However, her relationship with Benny Boom goes back years before that when she worked as a model in music videos such as Trey Songz’s “2 Reasons.” In her early days as part of the industry, Erica avoided fraternizing with the rappers and instead focused on building bonds with the individuals behind the camera.

AllHipHop.com spoke with Erica Pinkett about making the jump to dramatic work. In addition, the product of Howard University touches on starring in a biographical film about her all-time favorite artist and whether she will ever return to the reality TV world.

[ALSO READ: EXCLUSIVE: 2Pac Biopic Will Be More Realistic Than “Notorious” Says Producer L.T. Hutton]

Most people know you from Love & Hip Hop, but they probably don’t know of your background in other art forms. Can you talk about that?

I went to Howard University and studied psychology. That was my career dream at the time. However, my passion has always been in the arts. As a little girl, my mom would sign me and my four siblings up for every free program in Boston. I did ballet, played the piano, learned how to paint, and obviously acting is really my love. It’s something that I studied for years, but I just never took it seriously until about 6 years ago.

How did you get involved with the 2Pac biopic?

I moved to Atlanta. I said, “You know what? I’m in Atlanta, and I’m going to make the best of it.” That’s how I started working on videos. Instead of me falling into the “video vixen” category – the girl who dates the rapper – I just went to the set and did my job, because I knew the directors wanted to be Hollywood filmmakers one day.

I worked with Boom on a video set. Four years later, here I am auditioning for the 2Pac film and Boom is directing. That’s why I never looked at videos as anything but work. Even with reality TV, I looked at that as just work as well. In every situation, I looked at the outcome like “What could this be?”

L.T. Hutton + Erica Pinkett + Benny Boom (Instagram)

L.T. Hutton + Erica Pinkett + Benny Boom

At what point did you get involved in the process?

I want to say toward the end of last year I got a call from one of the casting directors for the film. She said, “Erica, I have this amazing part for you to audition for. Would you mind coming in?” At first I thought, “Is she contacting the right person?”

Once I went in to audition for the role, I literally knew that I had it. I felt so confident about my work. I worked so hard training for the part and the audition. Needless to say, I got the role. I auditioned for Boom, L.T. Hutton, and the casting director. All the producers saw it and agreed I was definitely fit for the role. I’m very blessed.

You’re playing a controversial character. You said you did some training to prepare for the role. What other ways did you prepare to take on that particular part?

When my acting coach and I were going over this part, because I love Pac so much, it was hard for me. He continuously told me, “Do not judge the character. Your job as an actress is just to tell the story.”

Once I got there mentally, it was easy for me to dissect the character. From growing up in Boston, I’d seen girls like this all the time. There were girls like this in my neighborhood, and these type of things happened all the time. On top of that, with my acting skills, the character came alive.

Did you get a chance to speak to Ayanna Jackson?

No, but some people have told me, “She may reach out to you once the movie comes out.” I wanted to focus on telling the truest story that represented the legacy of 2Pac in its most genuine form. Because this story was about Tupac Shakur, I didn’t really have to reach out to anyone to get their side of the story. This is 2Pac’s story. Had it been her story, then that would have been necessary, but since that isn’t the case I didn’t feel the need to reach out.

Erica + Demetrius As Ayanna + Pac

Erica + Demetrius As Ayanna + Pac

What was it like filming with Demetrius Shipp?

That kid… I just know his future is going to be lit. He is so focused. For this to be his first major film, I’m so proud of him. I heard he was preparing for the role for a long time. The look is one thing, but his accent, his demeanor, his mannerisms – when you see this film, you’re going to be like, “Is this 2Pac?”

That kid nailed it. Everyone on the team is amazing. Kat Graham is playing Jada Pinkett, and she’s an amazing actress. You have Cory Hardrict [as Haitian Jack]. There are so many amazing actors. I can’t even name everyone. It was an honor for this to be my first major film. It still feels like a dream.

You’ve said everyone on the team is committed to making an amazing film. But there have been biopics – like Aaliyah and Notorious – that the public didn’t receive very well. Did you feel there was a sense of pressure on the cast or crew that this had to be a great film?

With anything that you do in life that you expect to be a classic or legendary, there’s always going to be that pressure. It’s not some kind of fly-by-night project. This is something people have spent years and years developing.

I know L.T. Hutton, Benny Boom, and Afeni Shakur were not going to let 2Pac’s legacy go down the drain by not telling the most genuine story. Even the Outlawz came on set. There was so much support from amazing people who really knew 2Pac.

I know this movie will be an amazing story and film. There’s so much passion behind every single person that was part of this project. I have no doubt that this will be anything less than epic and a classic.

I think it definitely helps when you have people that really knew him – especially his mother – involved.

I don’t want to speak on any other projects that I wasn’t a part of, but ethically I feel that the family – especially the mother – should always have some say when you’re doing a biopic of someone as legendary as some of these great artists that have passed. Once I found out Afeni Shakur was part of it, I was super excited and knew it would be nothing short of a classic.

There was an interview La La Anthony did where she said she had to quit her show because when she went to auditions she got stigmatized as the “reality star” and it was hard for her to move in Hollywood. Did you experience that and would you ever be interested in going back to reality TV?

First, La La Anthony is an amazing, beautiful actress. She has had such a prosperous career. From VJing to reality TV to acting, she’s always progressed. Her next move is always better than her last move. That’s exactly what I’ve done in this.

I’ve always kept the focus on what’s the next thing. When I did reality TV, I just wanted a platform to tell my story about some of the things I’ve experienced in the past. That helped inspire young girls. I got so many emails in support and asking for resources.

With the good, of course, there’s some bad as well. With that I said, “Maybe this is not the stint for me. What’s the next thing?” Now that I got this amazing opportunity to be part of a classic film, I hope people will see my acting range and really take me seriously as an actress.

Like everyone else walking this Earth, I’ve made some mistakes in my younger years. I’m not the same woman today as I was 2 minutes ago, let alone 2 years ago. So anything I do from here on out has to be inspiring.

So to answer your question about reality TV, it’s not that I wouldn’t do it again. But it would have to be a situation where I was allowed to show something inspirational. I’m responsible for my actions. I would have to know what I was projecting to young kids  – they’re the ones who watch it, 18-30 – so it has to inspire from this point on. I don’t want to move backwards.

Mood??? #pactaughtme

A video posted by Erica Pinkett (@ericapinkett) on

[ALSO READ: EXCLUSIVE: Filmmaker Donald Sikorski Discusses Upcoming Jimmy “Henchman” Rosemond Docuseries ‘Unjust Justice’]

All Eyez On Me is scheduled for release in 2016.

Follow Erica Pinkett on Twitter @ericapinkett and Instagram @ericapinkett.

Follow the 2Pac estate on Twitter @2pac and Instagram @2pac.

All photos courtesy of Erica Pinkett
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  • WORLD DOMINATOR

    Hope it’s HALF as good as STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON!

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  • jeweliano

    Just like any other movie it will please some and disappoint others.I have a feeling I will be disappointed for some reason. This movie better be over 2hrs long for me to even give it a chance for starters…..fug that 1hr 30 mins time with deleted scenes. I want to be able to put it in that Malcom X category when it’s all said and done.

    • Triple7_skylakegreat

      Don’t know about boom man couldn’t they pull a more seasoned director

      • Dan Tebasco

        John Singleton was gonna do it initially, but he didn’t get along with the how the producers wanted to portray Tupac and felt like it wasn’t true to how Pac was or something… And he knew Pac after all… Benny Boom got attached when the producers were told that you need to start filming this year or you lose the right to use Tupac’s music, and he had nothing better to do more or less… Hardly a first pick… Ernest Dickerson shoulda been considered if you ask me, he did JUICE with Pac and other good films, but he’d probably have a schedule conflict

      • jeweliano

        I agree with you on the director situation. I know they saved a lot of budget costs using Benny and it will look good on his resume.When I think about it though he probably won’t get another shot at a movie….hell even Hype didn’t get another shot and Belly was a visual masterpiece. Hollywood don’t show us no love smh

      • Dan Tebasco

        If by us you mean black people then there are plenty of sucessful black directors Spike Lee, Antoine Fuqua, Steve McQueen and uhm Tyler Perry… As far as Hype goes I think he made more money off of making music-videos than he did of making BELLY and it was a much more easier job and less time-consuming so that’s why he stuck to that… Could be wrong though

      • onehunglo

        Spike is banned from Hollywood,he raises his own funds for movies because he pointed out that Hollywood isn’t white its Jewish, and the fact that 89% of all actors actresses are Jewish ,meaning they draw on only a pool of Jewish acting school students and ignore the rest.

  • Dan Tebasco

    They will be lucky if it’s as good as Notorious, they were forced to rush the production of it to keep the license for Tupac’s songs… and that co-alligns with what she said about her getting a phone call at the end of last year asking her to audition, and they started shooting it at around Christmas with no time for her to prepare… Luckily Jamaal Woolard accepted to play Biggie again since he knows how to… We’ll see how it goes I guess but not terribly promising, I definitly don’t trust her words or it being ‘epic’ any newbie in Hollywood think that what they do is gonna be amazing… From what I can gather Young Noble and EDI at age 40 will play themselves as teenagers which I think is just yet again because they had to rush it

  • RichFromBX

    The lack of any real names in the cast makes me nervous and they casted Jamal Woolard as Biggie???

    This had the potential to be a great movie…not a great hip hop movie, not a great hood movie but a a real movie. I’m no Pac fanboy or dick rider but dude was a complex individual and unless that is captured, this movie will be shit…it’ll just be a 90 minute reenactment of news clips and interviews we’ve already scene…

    • therealjjohnson

      You said “had the potential” as if to say you know it will not be. Big names do not equal good acting. We haven’t even seen a trailer. I’ll reserve judgement until I actually see the movie.

      • RichFromBX

        never said big names…I said real names. There are a lot of great actors who aren’t main stream famous.

        John Singleton quit the film twice. The second time was because of “creative differences”. Singleton wrote a script that took you through Pacs entire life which started as a kid from Harlem…that concept was shut down so Singleton quit. Look up the cast on IMDB and you’ll see that that the the movie only covers the first couple of years before signing to death row thru being killed in Vegas.

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  • onehunglo

    Hope they show pac when he was in ballet school and his years with digital underground doin the humph dance,and his living with a white civil rights activist in Marin county. Not the fake gangsta persona that was made up to sell records

    • RazaBladeKing

      Uh… Pac was involved in (at least) 3 shoot outs, did a year in prison, and died a violent death. What’s your resume like

      • onehunglo

        Well he definitely got me on the ballet school and doin the humpty dance.

      • RazaBladeKing

        So not only are you the type to try and bad mouth a dead guy who can’t defend himself; you’re the type to double post the same dumb @$$ comment, and the type to upvote yourself… but Pac is the b*tch in your eyes, huh? Your father must be so proud. And since you dodged the question, I’m guessin your credentials are non-existent, so if Pac was a b*tch (who shot at cops, no less)… the f*ck you think that makes you?

      • onehunglo

        Fag

      • diggs

        As I read your comments, I see that you are just an ignorant brother with negative thoughts which show me you have limited education.

      • HipHop1977

        Tupac Gay in a Speedo!!!

        tinyurl.Com/nwjp9a8

      • onehunglo

        say word

      • diggs

        You must of been one of those cats riding for the East Coast.

      • onehunglo

        post it please

      • HipHop1977

        All that was after he started rapping/Became famous. He was a FAKE STUDIO GANGSTA!!

      • DJ O

        i mean he mentions that all the time. he didnt have a record till he made a record. Yall tupac haters act like he was hiding or lying about his past. He was always open about his upbring.

      • onehunglo

        Then why u upset when I remind people………………… C

      • DJ O

        Not upset. But your intentions are negative.

      • diggs

        You are just a flat out Pac Hater Bro!!

  • youngplaya

    Pac’s presence is too strong IMO for a movie this early. Everyone is too familiar with his style, voice, mannerisms and passion. It’s going to be comical to watch a new actor try to portray this dude. I love pac but NWA was long enough away for dudes to give those actors a pass on playing Eazy E and Ren and the rest of them dudes.

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  • onehunglo

    Will they show him doin the humpty dance and dressed as an African king when he was in digital underground? Or are they goin with the ” gangsta persona he took on when he reinvented himself at death row.

    • HipHop1977

      You already know this movie is gonna be the sequel to CB4….

      • onehunglo

        lmfao……………….ahhhhhhhhhhhhh

    • DJ O

      Im sure they will. its apart of his story. You do know he had a documentary in his own words that was a major theater release. Its called 2pac resurrection by the way. I do believe he mentions the DU years. Also I guess didnt show his “gangsta” persona when he was reppin ThugLife from 92′ to 95’…smh

  • onehunglo

    Tupac likes to forget when he was doing the humpty dance- shock g

  • onehunglo

    They showed Tupac what it means to be real street killers at Quad studios