O’Shea Jackson Jr was lavished with acclaim for hip hop biopic “Straight Outta Compton” — but the sweet taste of his first big success was soured by claims of nepotism.
Detractors suggested the untested actor had landed the role of his own father Ice Cube in F. Gary Gray’s chronicle of the rise and fall of legendary hip-hop group N.W.A. only by virtue of the family connection.
Jackson confounded his critics with a stunning debut, and has been proving them wrong ever since, first as a darling of the festivals circuit with indie comedy “Aubrey Goes West,” and now as an action star.
“I love that people doubt me because it just pisses me off and makes me get my ass up to go and put the work in,” the 26-year-old told AFP in a recent interview to promote his latest project, heist movie “Den of Thieves.”
“That’s the Kobe Bryant in me. I love it, bring it on.”
Jackson was born in 1991 — the year his dad was getting his big acting break in John Singleton’s acclaimed social drama “Boyz N The Hood” — and grew up in LA’s distinctly leafy, unhoodlike San Fernando Valley.
Encouraged by Ice Cube, he began rapping in his late teens, and before long father and son were performing together. But his first love was film, and Jackson enrolled on a screenwriting degree at the University of Southern California.
He’d shown no serious commitment to acting when Cube suggested Jackson play him in “Straight Outta Compton,” bringing in acting coaches to get his son up to speed for a somewhat daunting debut acting role.
Giving the lie to the nepotism charge, Jackson was pitted against hundreds of other actors in an intense, two-year selection process that involved numerous acting classes, auditions, callbacks and chemistry tests.
A big priority was placed on sessions recording N.W.A. hits, which Jackson sailed through, and, finally, a screen test for executives at Universal.