Joining the family business at the age of 24 isn’t out of the ordinary, unless your father is rapper and actor Ice Cube. For the past two years O’Shea Jackson Jr.—who has released his own mixtapes under the name OMG—has been taking acting lessons and studiously preparing to play his father in the upcoming N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton. So what’s his famous dad really like? “He’s cool,” Jackson responds with a laugh. “There are many sides to him, but he wanted me to humanize Ice Cube in the film.”
How old were you when you first heard Straight Outta Compton?
About five or six years old. But I didn’t really see the magnitude of it or know what it meant for my father to be Ice Cube until I was 18. Then I was able to see how he touched other people’s lives.
You spent years preparing for this role.
I had no acting experience, so when my dad brought it to me I was nervous, but over the following days I asked myself if I could see anybody else playing him—and to tell you the truth, I would have been nauseated in the movie theater. It took two years of working with coaches, plus about three auditions and a screen test, before they gave me the green light.
What was the most difficult part about playing your father?
The real challenge was not wanting to go on set or on stage trying to do an impersonation of Ice Cube. The goal was to make him a character and add some of my own flavor to it. He really wanted me to be myself, because he’s in me, so why go any harder than that?
Many of the issues you deal with in the movie are still relevant. Do you think the type of struggles N.W.A experienced still exist today?
Straight Outta Compton couldn’t have had more perfect timing with its release. There’s nothing new under the sun—people have been dealing with the same oppression and injustice for a while. I’m glad the movie is coming out at such a sensitive time because it will further open people’s eyes, just like the album did.
PLAYBOY TALKS WITH O'SHEA JACKSON