Tuesday, October 17, 2017

MIKE EPPS – Balancing Hollywood and family

by Kimberly Bailey-Tureaud

The most recent opportunity to expose audiences to the impeccable timing and natural appeal that made him a star: a high-profile role in the well-received wedding comedy “Jumping the Broom.” Not unexpectedly, Epps’ recollections from that all-star set tend toward the hilariously irreverent.
“The most memorable moment while shooting … ‘Jumping the Broom’ was when we did the wedding scene and everyone was dancing and having a great time,” he said, before adding with a laugh: “Also, I will always remember calling … Angela Bassett ‘Anna Mae,’ from the movie, ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It.’”
Alongside frequent co-star Ice Cube, their successful screen partnership led to other big-screen collaborations, including “All About the Benjamins” and “The Janky Promoters.” The “Friday” team, according to Epps, is far from finished. “Ice Cube is like a brother to me,” he said. “He is my Hollywood brother, and I know we will work on some other projects in the near future.”
On many of the films that he has appeared in, Epps is also listed as a producer. Being his own boss in many instances, it seems, is beneficial to his art. “It is hard for writers to write for comedians,” he said. “We are always thinking about timing and being witty. Most of the good funny stuff you see me do in movies — I improvise.”
Improvisation is a running theme with Epps, even when describing his off-camera life. While many of the legendary comedians, such as Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby, have been described as introverted when offstage, Epps insists, “Hell nah, I am not an introvert! … I try to contain myself when I am doing interviews because you never know who is reading the magazine. But, when you are riding with me — live and in the flesh — I am off the chain.”
That outgoing personality must be paying dividends, because there is no shortage of engagements on Epps’ calendar. Already slated to star in director Salim Akil’s forthcoming remake of the 1970s classic “Sparkle,” Epps has also been working as an ambassador for the NFL. Assuming the football season goes forward this year, his work to promote the game will culminate with a Super Bowl in his Indianapolis, Ind., hometown.
The bright lights of Hollywood and ubiquity of America’s most popular sport do not, however, represent the whole of Epps’ professional output. At the moment, he is on the road — the main attraction in an eponymous standup comedy tour, Mike Epps & Friends, that allows him to work and stay in his element. A family man at heart, Epps is not taken by the Hollywood lifestyle.
“I was supposed to be a blue collar worker,” he said. “I am not Hollywood — it is work for me. I go to work and have a good time. When I am done with my work, I am back at the crib. Balancing my family life and my Hollywood life is no problem — I look at them as separate entities. This is show business and when it is time to do show business, you have to put on certain helmets. I have a helmet I put on when I deal with Hollywood. When I go and deal with top-notch Hollywood, I turn into top-notch Hollywood. And when it is time to let it go, I am gone. I don’t bring it back to the house with me.”
He added, candidly: “I don’t personally have a lot of friends in Hollywood — I have a lot of acquaintances. I am about my family and close-knit friends. My acquaintances are people we go out with and have a common bond with. We have a good time, but other than that I am trying to lay down a legacy for my children and my grandchildren — my crew.” 
Still don’t believe him? Listen as he describes a typical day: “I get up from my bed. Sometimes I don’t get on my knees, but I pray. I get a little breakfast and take my kids to school and go to the gym to work out. From the gym I am back at my office handling business and answering calls trying to get myself together for the week and book myself somewhere to do my jokes. This is pretty much it. I am with my kids during the week, and on the weekend I am working. I am coming to Las Vegas on July 1 at the Palms Hotel in the Pearl Theater, and I want everyone to come out to the show and come get some Courvoisier. Yeah, bay-bay (laughs)!  Let’s have a great time.”

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