Star to Watch: COMMON
In my teens, I listened to a lot of hip hop, and I still have at least three urban stations programmed on my car stereo. All along, I've responded most to artists with more gritty, poetic styles -- The Roots, Talib Kweli, Erykah Badu and Common, an elegant rapper who, like his more popular peer, Ludacris, has made a rather smooth transition into acting. Cool and casual, he's no scene-stealer, but this 38-year-old performer (born Lonnie Rashied Lynn Jr.) compliments the films he appears in, and he's about to tackle his biggest role yet.
In the romantic comedy "Just Wright," Common portrays a basketball star who falls for his trainer, played by Queen Latifah. The film, opening May 14, marks Common's first gig as the male lead. Previously, Common was seen primarily in action films, including "Smokin' Aces," "American Gangster," "Street Kings," "Wanted" and "Terminator Salvation." More recently, he co-starred in the Steve Carrell/Tina Fey action-comedy, "Date Night," as a corrupt cop.
Co-starring Paula Patton ("Precious") and directed by Sanaa Hamri, "Just Wright," which features Common shooting most of his own hoops alongside NBA pro Dwight Howard, isn't the only career highlight on the way for this Grammy nominee. His latest album, "The Believer," drops in the fall. I may just wind up playing it in my car.
Watch the trailer for "Just Wright":