When you think of the name Diddy, two things come to mind: party starter and big spender. But when Sean Combs’ name is mentioned, one tends to think about the more serious and business-minded man behind the sunglasses and toothpick. The rapper/mogul/man-who-does-everything-under-the-sun is now setting television screens on fire with his acting skills.
After playing the role of Walter Lee Younger in the critically acclaimed 2004 Broadway revival of “A Raisin in the Sun,”Â Combs decided to executive produce (along with Craig Zadan and Nick Meron) a made-for-TV adaptation of the play originally created by Lorraine Hansberry over five decades ago. For those not in the know, “A Raisin in the Sun”Â tells the story of a struggling black family living in a tenement on the South side of Chicago in the 1950s. The original cast from the Broadway revival star in the flick (Phylicia Rashad, John Stamos, Sanaa Lathan, among others), set to premiere Monday, February 25th at 8/7c on ABC, allowing the on-screen chemistry to be homogenous and believable.
Here, Sean “Diddy”Â Combs shows off his pensive side, lets loose about today’s generation, and affirms the title he’d rather his fans (and haters, for that matter) give him.
With all the criticism that hip-hop has gotten and you being a product of the hip-hop generation, what’s the core message that’s in “A Raisin in the Sun”Â for this generation in particular?
Oh, my. I think the core message is that for me, for this generation, what I want this generation to get out [of it] is the love of family and at the end of the day, when all the chips are down, your family is going to be there.
And to never give up hope and keep on pursuing your dreams because this generation has gone through this story in more of a widespread way than I think it was when the play was originally done. Now it’s not just African Americans that are touched by this. You have whites and different communities that are impoverished… Latinos, Asians, just a lot of people that are going through this same story.
Who was the most fun on set?
Me! Oh man. I like to keep us all motivated and I think that’s one of the things that I was able to do, not have to be a set wheel. People were waiting around and there was just work. I wanted to make sure it felt important… And that evening, when we weren’t in front of the camera, we still kept our family vibe and we were able to do that. It was a continuation. I do the same thing on Broadway and it was great. So we had a lot of fun up there. It was a lot of work, but we had a lot of fun.
Do you prefer to be a musician, mogul, or thespian?
I just like being an entertainer. I just view myself as an entertainer and I really try to look at myself as the entertainers of old [times]… They had albums and they acted and they also had some other businesses. I like entertaining people and pushing the culture of hip-hop forward [so] that we can do other things that aren’t written just for us and are not very typical. And we could raise our culture up.