There’s only one day left until All Eyez on Me opens in theaters nationwide and a phenomenon will be born anew. Recently, The Shadow League was in the building for a Q&A discussion featuring the film’s director, producer and lead actor. Demetrius Shipp Jr. stars in the title role as Tupac and is the perfect doppelganger as well.
“One thing I learned about Tupac was the work ethic that he had,” said Shipp. “Everybody speaks to that. He was just maddening when it came to work. He always made sure it was going to get done. That’s something that I took with me. As far as learning Tupac as a kid it was just like ‘I like the music, my Pop produced a song, I like that portion of Tupac.’ Diving into this role made me understand the name. Now I know the man, being born in Harlem, moving to Maryland then to Oakland. Now I know the complete story of how he became the Tupac that everybody loved.”
All Eyez On Me Narrative
“It was important to show all sides of Tupac,” added All Eyez on Me producer L.T. Hutton. “It was important to us to show Tupac had multiple sides. Even in the trajectory of the film, getting him to be grounded in certain places. He couldn’t be like that with his mother. Then that dynamic goes somewhere else with Jada, and that dynamic goes somewhere else with Kidada. These were three different sides of Tupac. The way that he was with his mother, that was true. The way that he was with Jada, that was true, the way that he was with Kidada, that was true.
“So it was important for us to flesh out that these were three very important women in his life, but only one of them he was romantic with. It was very important in this film that every page you turn he wasn’t with another woman because that has no relevance to the story we were trying to tell.”
Early on in the Q&A discussion it became apparent that a concerted effort was made to highlight the roles strong-willed women played in the life of Tupac Shakur in All Eyez on Me. Director Benny Boom explained why.
“We’re always asked about the relationship between Mrs. Shakur and Pac. They go together. So we felt like it’s very important for us to show the women in his life because they reflect the strength of the women in our lives. Whether it’s the first girlfriend, first friend, the woman you plan to marry or even your mother, no matter who it is, that’s there when you get off track. She cooks for you, she talks to you, but she’s there.”
A behind-the-scenes look at this biographical film about rapper/actor Tupac Shakur starring Demetrius Shipp Jr.
“All the other stuff stops when she’s taking care of you. The relationship between Afeni and Pac was very much like that in this movie. When she’s down, he’s there to support her, when he was down, she was there to support him. Also, they hold him in check in this film. Jada’s character holds him in check. You see the evolution of their relationship from children to young adults. She holds him in check. Kidada is there as the symbol of what could have been in his life. She could have been the mother of his children or his wife.”
For those that are unaware, Demetrius Shipp Jr is the son of Demetrius Shipp aka Meech, the producer of Tupac’s hit single “Toss It Up”. His likeness to Pac can’t be overstated. However, the young actor told attendees that it is Tupac’s legacy that inspires him and not anything superficial.
“It’s not for money,” said Shipp Jr. “For me, I don’t want to say that I’m like Pac but I’ve always wanted to be the a voice of the youth and of the culture. By all means, I promise I’ve never wanted to be in front of the camera. I never wanted to be a star or anything. I wanted to be a music producer, stay behind the scenes, make my beats, then go in the stands and watch everybody rock to it.”
“Now that I’m on (film) it’s the same thing as far as where my heart is and wanting to be a voice to uplift and motivate people. That’s where I’m at right now. By looking at Tupac and others, and looking at their resilience in going after their dreams without letting anyone stop them. I just want to use my platform to encourage black youth to stay on the straightest path that they can.”
All Eyez on Me opens in theaters Friday, June 16.