Bow Wow: Rapper-turned-thesp hits lottery

10 Actors to Watch

10 Actors to Watch
Bow Wow | Cecile De France | Garrett Hedlund | Jennifer Lawrence | Logan Lerman | Rooney Mara | Lucy Punch | Edgar Ramirez | Andrea Riseborough | June Temple


In this year’s “Lottery Ticket,” Bow Wow played a guy from the projects holding a ticket worth $370 million. To a degree, art was busy imitating life.

“Dealing with the fame and going from nothing and becoming something where everyone wants a piece of you, your life changes in a day. Being a kid who came from poverty and who now has bodyguards, I relate to that,” says the rapper-turned-actor who changed his moniker from Shad Gregory Moss in honor of one of his idols, Snoop Dogg.

“Lottery Ticket,” a critically applauded summer release co-starring Ice Cube, wasn’t Bow Wow’s only jackpot when it came to films this year. He also struck gold as the lead in Tyler Perry’s upcoming “Madea’s Big Happy Family.”

Only 10 years ago, when he was known as Lil’ Bow Wow, the young rapper came out with his first album and made his acting debut in the title role of “Like Mike.” Since then, he has played a young hustler in the Forrest Whitaker sports drama “Hurricane Season” and had a role in HBO’s “Entourage.”

“I loved playing a dramatic role,” says Bow Wow, referring to his turn in Whitaker’s feel-good pic. “There’s a side of me a lot of people don’t know, and when I do dramatic roles, it just all comes out.”

At 23, Bow Wow is a 24-karat Hollywood hot property who can’t quite believe he’s already accomplished a personal goal of appearing as the lead in two films a year. He points with pride to the release of “Madea,” in which he will play a more grown-up role as a father.

His dream role, however, would be a part in the “Men in Black 3” sequel, due out in 2012. That would give him the chance to appear with Will Smith, another of his idols, whose career has parallels with Bow Wow’s. Both started as likable teen rappers before moving from music to acting.

“Everyone always compares me to Will because of the music thing and the fact that he started off at the same age,” says Bow Wow. “If they’re not finished with the script yet, I could play Will’s intern. I could fetch him coffee.”

LUCKY BREAK: “Definitely the film ‘Like Mike,’ because it made me a household name. It broadened my whole entire fan base, from kids to parents.”

FAVORITE FILM: “‘Break It,’ because I grew up on it. My aunt introduced me to it and watched it over and over and over again. I keep this movie in my heart because it reminds me of being a kid.”

THE CAREER I’D LOVE TO EMULATE: “It would be based on two guys: A mix of Will Smith and LL Cool J. LL Cool J was a rapper-turned-actor, and I also relate to him because he was sort of a ladies’ man and had a female fan base, but yet he’s a positive dude. You never read about him getting into trouble or going to jail.”