Sunny Suljic Explains How Hip-Hop & Jonah Hill Changed His Life At 13

The young actor explains how Jonah Hill helped him break into acting and how rap music has influenced his entire life.

By: Shirley Ju (@shirju)

The title reads Mid90’s, over a portrait of a little boy with the words “written and directed by Jonah Hill.”

This is already a recipe for success.

Insert Sunny Suljic 13-year-old skateboarder and child actor, who in reality wasn’t even born during the reign of the 90’s hip-hop heard in the film.

While Sunny’s character (Stevie) gives audiences a first-person perspective of a young teenager who struggles to find his footing in the world, Sunny’s memory of 8th grade will forever be tied to his star role in Jonah Hill’s film.

AllHipHop: Who is Sunny?

Sunny: Charming, sexy… nah I’m playing. A kid that is a child actor that skates and was in the movie Mid90’s. You have to look it up, it will get more into details.

AllHipHop: How are you feeling now that Mid90’s has been out for a few months?

Sunny: I don’t know, I’m kind of bummed that press is slowing going downhill.

AllHipHop: Was it fun for you?

Sunny: Yes, super fun. A lot of people were like “yeah get prepared, you’re going to be super tired.” But it was really fun. ‘Cause this film that I made, everyone’s closer to my age. We were all just hanging out, so I kind of miss it.

AllHipHop: It’s crazy to think you’re only 13. Can you talk about how you landed this role?

Sunny: Well Jonah actually had no clue that I acted. He just went to the skatepark knowing I was going to be there, because he saw me on Instagram. My friend Mikey Alfred, the co-producer on the film, introduced me to him, and we hit it off. [smiles]

AllHipHop: How did the movie change your life?

Sunny: In so many ways. First, Jonah taught and just explained so many things for future reference. For so many roles and more publicity I guess, that's definitely a bigger one. It changed me a lot, in good ways.

AllHipHop: Talk about your own love for hip-hop.

It's the only thing I listen to when I skate, so I really get in the zone. It’s the main genre I listen to. Music is complete art, and hip-hop is basically the only genre I listen to.

AllHipHop: I know you’re only 13, who are some of your favorite artists?

**Sunny:**I like Migos, Lil Uzi, Famous Dex, Trippie Redd, 03 Greedo.

AllHipHop: Free Greedo!

Sunny: Yeah, free Greedo. Drakeo The Ruler, XXXTentacion, rest in peace X. There are more that I know, somewhere.

AllHipHop: How did you find them? Were your friends listening to it?

Sunny: Well my sister put me on to a lot of the music. She’s 18, shout out to her. She put me on the everything actually. She put me onto fashion too. Just friends and the skating culture as well. Everyone listens to hip-hop and that type of music.

AllHipHop: Talk about your love for skateboarding and hip-hop go hand in hand.

Sunny: For me, I'll just speak for myself, when I skate, it motivates me so hard. It just depends on the song. It intertwines with skating so well because I just get in the zone.

AllHipHop: How often are you skating?

Sunny: Every single day. At times when I'm not doing interviews or school, I’m skating every day. Actually even when I’m doing school, I still skate every day. It varies from 3 hours to 12 hours.

AllHipHop: I'm guessing you want to go pro...?

Sunny: Yeah, for sure. 100%

AllHipHop: What was the hardest scene to film in the movie?

Sunny: Probably just the skating. I had to re-learn how to skate and make it look believable. I feel like it would have ruined the whole film if it didn't look realistic. That was definitely a hard one because it wasn't just a specific scene, it was every scene I would be rolling around, and I had to be on top of it every time. It was fun to experience actually trying to be bad, instead of just getting on the skateboard and making fun of me being bad.

AllHipHop: Oh yeah, you had all those outtake scenes where you’re just falling right? You were trying to mess up almost?

Sunny: Yeah, 100%, I was just trying to fall. I was just trying to keep falling.

AllHipHop: Did it hurt?

Sunny: Not really. They insisted to give me padding but I was like “nah.” I really need to thug it out.

AllHipHop: Best memory while shooting?

Sunny: Probably the bedroom scene with the girl, and then the skate shop scenes. A lot of those ones because it didn’t even feel like we were shooting, we were just chilling at the shop.

AllHipHop: What was the best memory while shooting?

Sunny: Usually off set, whenever we would just see Jonah dancing or when he did ‘the dive’. For anyone who doesn’t know what ‘the dive’ is, it’s when you start off in a handstand and you dive into it on the ground. You listen to a lightskin song, it’s like grinding. Just imagine Jonah do it.

AllHipHop: What song was playing?

Sunny: I think it was the song that goes “baby grind on me.” [Pretty Ricky] It was the best thing. I think someone filmed it, but I don’t think anyone can expose that.

AllHipHop: The movie had you smoking cigarettes and doing drugs. What did your parents think?

Sunny: Parents were fine. It's just a film. It's not like I was actually doing it, so it doesn’t have any harm.

AllHipHop: What is your take on drug culture?

Sunny: If you do it, that’s you. If you don’t, that’s fine. I don’t really have a strong opinion on it. If you do meth and heroin, and if you're not prescribed it, that's sketch. But if you're over 21, weed is legal. Alcohol is legal. You get prescribed Xanax, all of that. Do whatever you want to do, just be safe.

AllHipHop: Do you feel the peer pressure at 13?

Sunny: No, not at all. All my friends are older, they're not going to really get me into that. They’re still responsible and mature. They’re not gonna be like “yo, hit this or try this.” I have a pretty good understanding of what it does to you.

AllHipHop: What do your peers think?

Sunny: They loved it. They were so moved by it. I appreciate that all the skaters enjoy it, because a lot of skating films are kind of exaggerated. But coming from a skater, I actually skate and I know what it's like. It’s a good portrayal of what it was.

AllHipHop: Is there a certain trick or skateboarding thing you’re trying to tackle at the moment?

Sunny: Well after all the press, I’ve just been trying to get my tricks back consistently and be comfortable again. I’ve been trying to just get back on top of it. Maybe in a week, I’ll start street skating again. Maybe, we’ll see.

AllHipHop: What’s the skate park culture like?

Sunny: It’s usually you go to your local skate park. You progress. Once you have enough tricks and you’re pretty decent, then you want to get on a company. Then you want to go street skating, because it’s more raw so you have to get a bunch of footage that’s your best. Every clip has to be amazing. You send it out to whatever company you want to be on, then they flow you, which is when they give you stuff to see if you have potential. Then you go Amateur and start getting paid. You just have to be consistent with footage.

AllHipHop: Does that mean you always have a shooter around deck?

Sunny: Yeah, I have some friends that film.

AllHipHop: Being that you're still in school, what do you see for yourself in the near future?

Sunny: [sighs] Thinking about the future is scary, but I definitely want to keep skating, keep acting, and just see what happens. I’m pretty set on what I’m doing right now, there’s nothing I want to change. Maybe I'll find something to add on. We’ll see.

AllHipHop: For someone who hasn’t seen the film, how would you best pitch it?

Sunny: I would just say a really raw film. It has a strong meaning, even if you don’t skate. You just gotta see it.The best thing to do is to see it because it's a good plot but emotions that go into it, it shows that life isn't always one emotion. That's what Jonah also brought up in the film. For comedy genres, it's always funny, but this is just a life film. If you get hurt, then there's going to be something on top of it. You'll get happy and the next things just pop up, and you're like “whoa, what the fuck? What just happened.” It's really suspenseful.

AllHipHop: What's the best encounter you had with a fan?

Sunny: After the movie came out, I got hella fan accounts. I thought it was tight because I started getting edits, and I appreciated it. I followed some, I like all of it. It's tight when people come up to me and they're kind of hesitating because they're scared to approach me. I remember someone came up to me and they were tearing up. They were shaking like “omg.” They were about to pass out. It was tight.

AllHipHop: What about you, who are you a fan of?

Sunny: I'm a fan of people’s talent. For hip-hop, all my favorite artists I said earlier: Trippie, X, 03 Greedo. For skating, Louie Lopez, Mason Silva, there's a lot. But at the end of the day, I realize I end up becoming friends with them and I don’t think of them as anyone else. All of them except X and 03 Greedo, but the skaters I end up meeting and being friends with them. It’s like oh, I'm not even a fan anymore, they're just the homie.

AllHipHop: Besides skating and hip hop, what else do you do for fun?

Sunny: Average 13-year-old stuff I do is play Fortnite. I play pool. I'm pretty good at pool. I'ma be a little arrogant right now, I’m pretty fire at pool. If anyone is listening to me, I'll clap you in pool. I’m gassing myself up right now, I'm ready for all fades. Martial Arts. I don't do it too much now but I think I’ma get back into it for other roles if they come up.

AllHipHop: What are you favorite shows on Netflix?

Sunny: Futurama. I’ve watched Futurama 4 times. I’m watching it again for the 5th time. It’s my favorite show but I don't like really getting into TV shows because I have a really addictive personality. If I don't watch a day of it, then I have to make up for it and keep going. Like “oh I have to watch the show.” I usually just watch the same movies that I watched before. That's pretty much it, I don't like experimenting sometimes.

AllHipHop: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Sunny: I'm going to be 23, so I'm going to say that I'm going to have a nice house. My own spot. My own built skatepark in my house or outside of my house. Hopefully maintain some of my good friends. Be a famous actor and skater.

Mid90's is now available to rent and own on all digital platforms, and on DVD/Blu-ray on Jan 8.

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