JT: So I’ll get this one out of the way right now because I have to ask. What is your favorite pair of shoes?
JG: Right now? The red [Air Jordans], you know the originals, because it’s Michael Jordan’s first shoe. Not because it’s in the movie or anything. Michael Jordan is the greatest of all time. I wouldn’t put Kobe in front of Michael Jordan. And then also some of Lebron’s MVPs. Those shoes are tight. Also everything Nike puts out is tight. The Kyrie Irvings. I love those, man.
JT: If you had to live with either Nike or Adidas?
JT: That was easy.
JG: Sorry, Kanye.
JT: Yeezy’s doing fine. He’s eating very well.
When I auditioned you, I asked you to recite “Party and Bullshit” by Biggie Smalls. Did you already know that verse going in?
JG: I knew of the song. I didn’t really know the words.
JT: You basically just came in and spit it, and it was very strange that you were twelve years old and were spitting entire Biggie verses.
JG: It was fun because I like to rap. I’m a rapper. Or, not necessarily a rapper. I would consider myself an artist. I make art. But it just came naturally… When I got to set, I was like, “Dang we’re using Biggie Smalls’ song, and Biggie’s son is right here. And we’re just chilling.” It was kind of crazy. I was starstruck at first, but everything’s worked out.
JT: So being on set in the Bay Area, what would you say was your favorite place while you were there?
JG: Just being in the Bay was my favorite. It was so far away from Long Beach, my house. I like going on vacation. But I love the Bay in general. The vibes and people out there. Everybody’s happy. Nobody’s rushing. Even when we were filming on set, people were standing by us. They were so excited to see a movie come to the Bay.
JT: Do you think your co-stars helped you take up that Bay slang or know what the soil was all about?
JG: Oh yeah, they showed me. When I got there, I searched Oakland slang like “yadidimean?” and all that. But they gave it to me in a more explanatory way.
“I just stick to myself. I always know
what I’m going to do, and I don’t get led
into anything. I’m my own director.”
— Jahking Guillory
JT: In the movie, sometimes you had to be big and bragadocious and sometimes you had to be really introverted and rap inside your head or get to an emotional place. How did you work on that. What were the differences?
JG: Being excited and all jumped up was pretty easy. But as far as getting to that emotional place, before the scenes you sat me down and said, “Remember stuff about your grandma.” You helped me get there. So I brought back all those memories and channeled all that into Brandon and the scene.
JT: Because you had a great relationship with your grandmother.
JG: Best friend. Passed away. Don’t want to get emotional, but yeah.
JT: It takes a lot of guts for a thirteen year old. That’s impressive.
JG: Thank you.
JT: Is there any other way for you [to channel that introversion]? Have you seen a kid ever get beat up over shoes or anything like that?
JG: Not even beat up, man. My friend got killed over his backpack. He was walking home from school to go pick up his sister. That was his daily thing, his walk way. People would say, “Where you gonna go? Kishan’s way?” And somebody came up to him, like, “Hey, give me your backpack.” My friend didn’t want to do it. He got stabbed 17 times. His sister was there [waiting], and I was sad for her. She stopped going to school. It was an emotional time for that school and for my friends. But yeah, people get stabbed and killed over materialistic things. I hope that this movie opens up some eyes. It’s really, really happening. People don’t just get beat up; they get killed. I hope this saves a life.
JT: That’s crazy. When did that happen?
JG: It was when I had come back from filming. I think it was two months after, so September. I was in eighth grade. But I knew who it was [when I heard about it]. Sometimes you just know. Same with my grandma. I just knew. Somebody said, “loved one” and I just knew. I just have that sense of feeling.
JT: But you’ve somehow managed to avoid the violence or be apart from it.
JG: I just stick to myself. Even at school, I would still hang with my friends and all that, but when they go somewhere else I’m like, “Nah, man. I’m going to stay here and wait for my mom to pick me up.” That’s it. I always know what I’m going to do, and I don’t get led into anything. I’m my own director.