Conversation with . . . Will.i.Am

1 05 2009

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More and more musicians are storming the shores of Hollywood bringing their audiences with them to the big screen. The latest on the scene is Black Eyed Peas frontman and Barack Obama supporter Will.i.Am. He sat down with Kam Williams to share his thoughts on the President and his big screen debut in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”

William James Adams, aka Will.i.Am, was born on March 15, 1975 in the City of Los Angeles where he attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. But by the time he got around to launching his own clothing line (“i.am”) in 2005, the talented Renaissance man had already found fame as front man for Black Eyed Peas, the multiple Grammy-winning hip-hop group with hits like “Let’s Get It Started” and “My Humps.”

A versatile musician, Will not only plays various keyboards, the bass and drums, but also sings and raps as well. Besides Black Eyed Peas, he’s produced several successful solo projects, plus he has collaborated with a number of other artists, including Sergio Mendes, Usher and Flo Rida.

Perhaps his most important cultural contribution came during the run-up to the presidential election, when he released “Yes We Can,” the Emmy-winning song which ostensibly served as the Obama campaign’s unofficial theme song. Will made his first foray into acting last fall when he provided the voice of Moto Moto in the animated feature “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.” Here, he talks about all of the above, and about “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” where he co-stars opposite Hugh Jackman as John Wraith.

Will.i.Am: Hi Kam.

Thanks for the time, Will. By the way, is this you or just a hologram of you?

WiA: No, this is really Will.

I remember when you were interviewed by Anderson Cooper as a hologram on Election Night. [Click Here]

WiA: Yeah, it’s wild being a hologram back then and now being teleported in “X-Men Origins.”

I believe that your song “Yes We Can,” played a pivotal role in getting young voters excited about Barack Obama and that it helped him become President of the United States. How do you feel about his first 100 days in office?

WiA: So far, he’s done great! People are enthusiastic about America like they haven’t been in a very long time. He’s passed the Stimulus Bill… the Stem Cell Research Bill… he’s closed Guantanamo Bay. Base on that, this dude has overachieved already. It’s really too early to be judging him, but I’m super thrilled that he won, and I think he’s doing a phenomenal job so far. The people judging him now are the doubters who think there’s a possibility that he’s going to fail. We can’t afford that. It’s all psychological. If he fails, that means we’ve failed, too, to since he’s in the White House because of us. If we’re going to judge him now, then we have to judge ourselves also, and ask, what have we done since his inauguration?

Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks what inspired you to write “Yes We Can?”

WiA: My passion. I was inspired by his speech, and by all the invisible freedom fighters from the past who you never read about in school.

Did you think it would help Obama become president?

WiA: No, I wrote it basically so teachers could teach his speech in school. I wasn’t thinking, “I’m going to write this song to make Obama our president.” That’s not logical. I was thinking, “I’m going to write this song so we would have a politician’s words being taught in schools.” That was something I could do that would have an immediate effect.

That’s brilliant, Will!

WiA: Thank you. That was the real reason I did it, although there was the possibility that this dude could become our president once he was already being taught to the kids.

As for “X-Men,” what a spectacular screen debut you’re getting to make by being a part of such a popular film franchise.

WiA: Yeah, it’s more than spectacular. It’s unbelievable, and kind of crazy, if you ask me.

Did you base your approach to playing John Wraith on anybody?

WiA: I modeled him after my cousin, Earl. He used to be a very, very bad, bad man. He’s done some bad, bad things, but he’s also a very approachable, likable, huggable kind of guy. He has some bad friends who’ve done bad things, too, but he has a conscience.

Click here to read the rest of Williams’ interview with Will.i.Am.

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