Straight Outta Compton made quite the impression this summer when it became a surprise hit at the box office, and now it’s making a play for awards season. But it’s the broader storytelling approach of director F. Gary Gray’s biopic — about the rise of hip-hop group N.W.A — that was on the mind of star O’Shea Jackson Jr., who plays his father, Ice Cube, in the film.
“We are part of a movie that has the potential to be nominated for an Academy Award,” Jackson Jr. said while accepting the Big Breakout Cast honor during VH1 Big in 2015 With Entertainment Weekly, which recognized the biggest entertainers and pop-culture moments of 2015. “The most beautiful part about that, to me at least, is that if we’re nominated for an Academy Award, we didn’t have to have shackles on our feet. I didn’t have to get beat up a 1,000 times throughout the movie. Those films are great. Those films are powerful. Those films need to be seen, but they’re not the only ones that need recognition.”
He continued, addressing the type of films that do need recognition: “Our trials and our times of pain get the most recognition, but Straight Outta Compton speaks to triumph. When it’s doubtful, when nobody is on your side, when your back is against the wall, you triumph and make it through. Showing growth through movies promotes growth. I want more movies like Straight Outta Compton. Showing our stories of triumph, we’ll make it through and we’ll get to something better.”
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Ice Cube touched on a similar note, and praised the actors in the film while presenting his son with the honor. “Straight Outta Compton is a movie about a group of young men beating the odds and taking the world by storm without apology or compromise and tonight’s honorees for Big Breakout Cast didn’t just portray these superstars, they became them,” he said, speaking to how the cast members fully embodied their characters.
The rap legend continued, pointing to his son’s performance, and addressing what it meant to finally see the N.W.A story realized on the big screen. “O’Shea Jackson Jr. was amazing too, morphed himself into a crazy motherf—er named Ice Cube, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my son,” Ice Cube joked. “Straight Outta Compton was the highest grossing film ever by a black director. Shoutout to F. Gray Gray. It was a dream come true for me to bring this to the big screen as an inspiration.”
In addition to the Compton cast members, who were featured in EW’s Entertainers of the Year issue, Nicki Minaj, Aziz Ansari, Taraji P. Henson, Amy Schumer, and more were honored. Hosted by T.I., the event was held at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles on Nov. 15. For more on our Entertainers of the Year, pick up the issue, which you can buy here.