Tyrese via Instagram Live spoke about John Singleton pursuing him for years and comparing him to Tupac Shakur as he landed the lead role in “Baby Boy.”
Actor and R&B singer, Tyrese, took the time to reflect on his career and show love to those who inspired him and gave him his first acting opportunity.
Starting his music career in the late nineties with his debut album ‘Tyrese,’ the Compton native was enjoying success as an up and coming R&B singer. Considering himself as a singer only, Tyrese was approached by director John Singleton who saw the young singer as a movie star.
“John Singleton pursued me for almost seven years,” Tyrese said on IG Live. “He was completely unbearable. He was showing up to MTV when I used to host in New York. He was calling my managers. He was calling my phone number. I would change my number a couple of times over the seven years, he would somehow get a hold of my number.”
Growing up with a skewed outlook of Hollywood, Tyrese had no interest in acting. “He kept saying, ‘You’re a moving star. I’m a put you in a movie.’ I was looking at that man, like, ‘Bro with all due respect, I am a singer and I am passionate about singing,’” Tyrese recalled.
Part of the pursuit that lasted for almost seven years, Tyrese was presented with an acting opportunity in the John Singleton movie Shaft. Despite the moving casting Samuel L. Jackson and Vanessa Williams, Tyrese declined. Singleton, with no quit in sight, became more aggressive in his pursuit to recruit Tyrese as an actor when Tupac Shakur passed away.
As Tupac and Singleton worked together in the hit movie, Poetic Justice, the talented director had plans for Shakur to take on a lead role in the movie “Baby Boy.” In fact, the movie was written for Tupac with elements of Shakur’s life inspiring the script.
Fun Fact: In 2002 Tyrese appeared on the hook for 2Pac’s posthumous release ‘Better Dayz’on the song ‘Never Call U B—- Again’.
“Jody was originally written for Tupac,” Tyrese tells a surprised Fat Joe back in 2020. “He told me, true story. When Pac was in L.A. shooting the video To Live & Die in L.A. they shot it off Crenshaw. Singleton’s office was in Crenshaw. He walked up to Pac in the middle of the video shoot and said, ‘I wrote a movie for you’. Pac was raised by his mom. Rest in peace Mrs. Afeni Shakur. He said, ‘I got the perfect movie for you to tell your story’. He wrote the movie for Tupac.”
Unfortunately Tupac would pass away days after being shot on the Vegas strip in 1996. “He said, ‘You remind me of Tupac.’ Which was also confusing cause I didn’t rap. He just said, ‘Tupac can walk into any room and it doesn’t matter who’s in the room, how big of a star, what they’re worth, Tupac has the biggest energy and personality of any room he walks in and you remind me of Tupac.’”
Eventually Tyrese would go on to accept the role thanks to Denzel Washington. The Oscar winner’s performance in the 1999 film The Hurricane, immediately inspired Tyrese to turn his attention to an acting career.
Tyrese is forever thankful for John Singleton’s opportunity. An opportunity that also led to Denzel Washington contacting Singleton before “Baby Boy” hit theaters. Word had gotten around Tyrese’s performance which prompted Denzel to request a copy of the movie before it was released as he was intrigued to watch the up and coming young actor.