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Exclusive: Andre Benjamin Reveals How He Became Jimi Hendrix

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The often reclusive Andre Benjamin has returned to the spotlight in 2014, stepping into the shoes of rock legend Jimi Hendrix in the upcoming film, Jimi: All is By My Side.

HipHollywood caught up with Benjamin on the red carpet for the film’s premiere to find out how he went from rap legend to rock legend.

“I read a couple of biographies, watched him do some interviews on American television just so I could get his mannerisms down,” explained Benjamin. “So I just took as much found information as I could get my hands on and did my impersonation or my take on Hendrix.”

Benjamin also learned how to play the guitar with his left hand, and went on a strict diet to play the rock star who died at the tender age of 27 years old. Director John Ridley told us he chose to focus on Hendrix’s life from 1966-1967, just as he was making his mark on the London music scene and emerging into an international rock star.

“I wanted to spend as much time as possible examining the individual instead of framing 27 years into 2 hours,” explained Ridley, who also wrote 12 Years a Slave. “I think with this film people will come away with a deeper understanding of this individual, as opposed to us giving them things they already know.”

Jimi: All Is By My Side hits theaters September 26th. So what’s next for Benjamin? He told us he’s not sure yet, but more music from Outkast is not in the plans.

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EXCLUSIVES

5 Reasons You Need To Know Daveed Diggs

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If you don’t know the name Daveed Diggs you will now! The Oakland native is definitely one to watch in Hollywood. Here are five reasons why.

1. He has already taken Broadway by storm.

In 2016 Diggs nabbed a Tony and a Grammy award for his role as Marquis de Lafayette/ Thomas Jefferson in “Hamilton.” Believe it or not Diggs didn’t even audition for the role. While substitute teaching in Marin County, CA he met Hamilton’s eventual star and creator Lin Manuel-Miranda and director, Thomas Kail who invited him to join their free-style rap group and later helped them craft the fast-rapping revolutionary. 

2. He’s funny. 

Diggs is proving he’s also got some amazing comedy chops with two memorable recurring sitcom roles: one as Perry, the crush du jour for Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) on Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and the other on ABC’s black-ish as Johan, the free-spirited brother of Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross). In fact, Black-ish creator Kenya Barris wrote the role for Diggs after being “blown away” by his performance on stage.

3. His first feature film Wonder is in theaters now.

In the film based on the New York Times best-selling novel of the same name, Diggs plays Mr. Browne the fifth grade teacher at the school where lead Jacob Tremblay attends. Diggs landed the role after wrapping his run in “Hamilton” and told HH it was like a crash course in film acting alongside Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson.

4. He’s a rapper. 

His experimental noise rap group Clipping has garnered a major cult following on Youtube. Their LP CLPPNG was an Album Of The Week back in 2014. And in 2016 the trio performed on The Late Late Show with James Corden to promote the release of their six-track EP Wriggle. 

5. He is executive producer of ABC’s The Mayor.  

The show about a struggling young rapper (Brandon Micheal Hall) who runs for local office (and wins) to boost his popularity, debuted this Fall and already is garnering wave reviews. Not surprisingly Diggs and his Clipping bandmates William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes, also produce all the music for the show.

 

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