The Life and Death story of the late, Notorious B.I.G. has finally made its long-awaited appearance in theatres, in 2009. NOTORIOUS is the story of Christopher Wallace who, through raw talent and sheer determination, transformed himself from a Brooklyn street hustler, to one of the greatest rappers of all time. This story charts his rapid rise to fame and his refusal to succumb to expectation, and redefines the definition of “The American Dream.” Supporting actor, Dennis White [otherwise known as Denace Da Menace], played the role of Biggie’s right-hand man, D-Roc.
White, an actor by trade, has dabbled in rapping, singing, hosting and has been performing for live audiences since the age of five. Always having a personal love for hip-hop, Dennis gave a riveting portrayal of TuPac in the film, Seventh Son. The buzz generated on White, led to other opportunities such as presenting at the Billboard Awards, in addition to an infinite number of hosting offers (Fuse TV IMX, Hot 97 Summer Jam X, And 1 Tour, and Fox’s Weekend Vibe). He had a starring role in Jay-Z’s music video “Rocboys” and scored roles on the NBC series Law and Order, The Jury and Third Watch. White soon became a series-regular on Spike Lee’s Miracle’s Boys, while still maintaining consistent appearances in blockbusters such as Swimming, I Think I Love My Wife and The Brave One.
Dennis, how many people were you up against for your role in Notorious?
There were 94 actors competing for the role (including Hollywood’s elite and those from The Wire, etc). I was approached by the film’s casting director on Myspace. They already had someone slated for the role, but they weren’t exactly sure about what they wanted. I was the quickest offer that Fox Searchlight Casting signed to the project.”
Describe your role in the film.
My character played Biggie’s childhood friend, who took a charge and went to jail for Biggie so that he could pursue his music career. Once home, he became his road manager and remained with Biggie throughout the events of his life, including his murder. His role is very pivotal in Biggie’s life, as well as in this movie. Their friendship helps define who Biggie really is.
What did you learn about Biggie in this film that you didn’t know before?
I learned that he never wrote down his lyrics; he would roll up a blunt, zone out, get in the studio and just lay a track down. I also didn’t know what a fun-loving, comedian he was; Big’s mother and Lil Cease really helped bring that across in the movie. I also saw that there really was a conspiracy at work to assassinate him.
This is not a movie about hip hop. It’s a human interest story about relationships: Biggie had strong relationships with his mother, Lil Kim, Faith and Diddy.
What is your opinion about the film director’s vision?
I fell in love with the script immediately. Director, George Simmons Jr., [Men of Honor, Soul Food] does beautiful, aesthetically-pleasing, feel-good films, and while emcees like Biggie casted a dark hue over hip hop, Simmons was able to convey a positive message about one of the greatest rappers of our time. The movie speaks to your heart.
What was your relationship like with the cast?
With certain A-listers, you’d think they’d keep their distance from the rest of the cast, but Angela Basset for example, was cool. The cast was like family, down to earth. We all knew that we had a lot on our backs, so it was all about telling the story correctly, and we put our all into it.
In your opinion, what is the underlying message of the film?
The underlying message is “Yes you can.” A young boy from Brooklyn, climbed the ranks of hip hop. He was “fat, black and ugly.” This story shows that no matter where you’re from, or what your situation is, you can be successful if you work hard.
What’s next for you, Dennis?
I don’t believe there are limitations to what I can achieve and where I can go in this industry, so I just keep moving forward.
Hana G. for the Connex List 2009