A little-known New York rapper will portray slain star Notorious B.I.G. in a biopic of the late hip-hop icon’s life.
Producers Fox Searchlight–who wanted to avoid recruiting a well-known name–picked Brooklyn-based Jamal Woolard out of 100 hopefuls for the film, which will document the tragic rapper’s childhood, his rise to fame and his untimely 1997 death in a Los Angeles drive-by shooting.
The producers held an open casting call last fall in the hope of finding a realistic Notorious B.I.G. lookalike who could imitate the late star’s rapping style, rather than hire a professional actor to play the part. Reggae star Sean Kingston and rapper Beanie Sigel were among the stars turned down.
Woolard–also known as Gravy–released a number of albums on independent labels in the 1990s before being signed by Warner Bros. In 1999, he was involved in a New York radio station shooting, but survived the attack.
Notorious B.I.G.’s mother, Voletta Wallace–who refers to her late son by his real name, Christopher Wallace–insists “Jamal’s charming personality, warm spirit, wonderful sense of humor and beautiful smile” was the reason he was cast in the role.
She adds, “He is a talented and charismatic actor, and I am excited that he will bring Christopher’s character to life.”
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