As a solo artist and as a member of the influential West Coast group N. W.A., Ice Cube was a driving force that helped put gangsta rap on the map. He stood out from his peers as a great - if controversial -storyteller with a tremendous presence onstage. It was only a matter of time before filmmakers recognized his potential. Much as Ice Cube made his mark representing the tough streets of South Los Angeles in his music, his early film appearances likewise cast him as familiar characters from the 'hood. He showed great screen promise with his debut in John Singleton's Academy Award-nominated "Boyz 'n the Hood" (1991) and built up an acting resume with a string of thugs before taking the helm as a screenwriter and producer of the successful "Friday" film franchise, including "Friday," (1995) "Next Friday" (2000) and "Friday After Next" (2002). From that more lighthearted take on urban life, Ice Cube stretched his range with an acclaimed performance in David O. Russell's war film "Three Kings" (1999). Despite the unruly image of his continued musical output, Ice Cube was able carve out a different onscreen persona, breaking through to the mainstream with the hugely successful "Barber Shop" (2002) franchise and family films "Are We There Yet?" (2005) and "The Longshots" (2008), earning the respect of fans and critics alike, proving this former rapper had the versatility to take on any part Hollywood asked of him.