Art’s Imitation Of Life: Exclusive w/ Ja Rule
As a member of one of the biggest hip-hop dynasties to impact music in the last two decades, Ja Rule has become all too familiar with the hustle mentality required to remain atop the rap game. His personal trials and missteps are the lessons in which the rapper/actor pulled from to portray the lead role in the upcoming film, “I’m In Love With A Church Girl”. Inspired by a true story, the film depicts Ja as a high profile man about town who has made his fortune on drug-trafficking. As the police look into him, he finds faith and redemption in the church, where he meets an attractive, church-going young woman (played by ‘The Real’ host Adrienne Bailon). While production for the Steve Race directed crime thriller began in 2010, this film marks the first project from Queens bred Jeffrey “Ja Rule” Atkins post his controversial stint in prison. Heed paid the Grammy nominated emcee a visit to discuss his inspirational new role and his personal journey to God.
Heed: Thank you for speaking with us. Let’s jump right into it! In the film you play Miles Montego, and your in love with a church girl. So tell me about your character.
Ja Rule: Well this is a true story, and I play an ex drug-trafficker that falls in love with a church girl (laughs). And he finds God and becomes a pastor. You know what they say God uses extreme measures and extreme circumstances.
Heed: God works in mysterious ways! So what drew you to the role?
Ja Rule: When I read the script I saw a lot of similarities with the character. That constant struggle with good and bad. Trying to be here (points) but still have one foot on the opposite side. I lived that lifestyle for a very long time, and still fight with those demons. Trying to be a better man, father and husband. And then you still have stuff trying to pull you back in, so I really understood the character. I wanted to take on the challenge of playing a character who was diverse. Coming from being a street cat to being a pastor and preacher of God, it was a challenge for me.
Heed: That was actually one of my questions, what was the most challenging part. Now are you a believer? Are you Christian?
Ja Rule: I recently got saved actually.
Heed: Thats incredible man.
Ja Rule: Yeah man Im finding my way.
Heed: One day at a time. So what has been the most rewarding aspect of playing Miles?
Ja Rule: The whole process. Doing a faith based film and being surrounded by so many positive people. Sharing my story with them and them embracing me. You know they could have easily said “Nah, you know Ja is a felon and been to prison so he can’t play a guy of faith in a film”. But I think that is exactly the thing that worked the best. Because as christian people what are you really trying to do? Are you trying to keep the light in the light? Or trying to actually reach those who are not of the light. And I think in faith based films, they tend to make movies for them by them, and not really reaching anybody. So with this film, it gives an opportunity to go out there and touch those people like myself who maybe would never walk into a church.
Heed: So is it safe to assume that this movie had a hand in your recent decisions?
Ja Rule: Yeah absolutely. I went to a lot of churches to do research on the mannerisms of a pastor. I had never been to this many churches in my life! (laughs) I was a Jehovah’s Witness so that was a completely different thing. I’ve always been a spiritual person but yeah this whole experience has brought me to the church more and closer to God. I’m thankful for this experience.
Heed: Most people know you for being a rapper, but do you have plans to do more film?
Ja Rule: Absolutely.
Heed: You working on anything you’re allowed to tell us about?
Ja Rule: Yeah I got something really huge coming up, thats crazy that I just got done doing. It’s gonna be exciting.
Heed: Any new music coming up?
Ja Rule: Yeah I just dropped two new singles last week. “Fresh Out Da Pen” & “Everything”. They’re starting to circulate around the country so its feeling good.
Heed: It’s definitely good to have you back. I was telling everyone you were like the soundtrack to my high school career (laughs).
Ja Rule: That’s whats up man. Appreciate that.
Heed: When people go see the movie what is the one thing you want them to take from it?
Ja Rule: You know, with anything I do I want people to be inspired. As an artist in general that’s what you want people to take out of your project. You want them to walk away with a little bit of inspiration to go out and be the next filmmaker or be the next musician. Any way possible that this could inspire someone and help them get through something tough in life, that’s what I want. That’s what I want people to take from Ja Rule as an artist.
Heed: How was it working with Adrienne Bailon?
Ja Rule: It was great working with Adrienne. She’s fun and I’ve known her for a long time, so it was easy to bring that chemistry to the film. So, October 18th in theaters go check us out!
Heed: We definitely will man. Thank you Ja!
Ja Rule: Much love
Hitting theaters this Friday, October 18th, “I’m In Love with a Church Girl” also stars Adrienne Bailon, Stephen Baldwin, and Michael Madsen. The feature film is produced by Grammy Award-winning gospel artist Israel Houghton’s production company, Reverence Gospel Media. For more info on the uplifting film, make sure you visit www.iminlovewithachurchgirl.com.
All Photos © 2013 Brian Luman for Heed Magazine Inc. & www.iminlovewithachurchgirl.com