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'American Violet:' Xhibit

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Rapper and actor Xhibit continues to beef up his entertainment résumé. In the new film "American Violet" he plays deadbeat dad Darrell Hughes who taunts his ex-girlfriend who is fighting the justice system in their small Texas town. ESSENCE.com spoke with Xhibit about what advice he would give his character and balancing family, rap and movies.

ESSENCE.COM: Great job on the new film. How was it playing a father who is falling down on the job, and what advice would you give him?
XHIBIT:
He's not the brightest individual. I would tell him he has to clean himself up first, then work on being there for the kids. It's a decision to be a stand-up father. I had my son at a very early age and I chose to pursue fatherhood. The drive and clarity it gave me helped me more than set me back.

ESSENCE.COM: Great to hear. And we were sorry to hear of the passing of your newborn son last year. How do you balance family life and your career as an actor and rapper?
XHIBIT:
Thanks. Last year was a rough one; I didn't work too much and focused on my family being okay. I have no problem putting my career on hold to make sure what really matters is straight. I include my oldest son in my career and he listens to the music. I'm trying to make him a well-rounded individual. He can ask me about anything and we have an open discussion. I rather he get any information from me and feel comfortable coming to me first.

ESSENCE.COM: Smart move. You have made the transition from rapper to actor a lot smoother than many, and you've become quite popular with your show "Pimp My Ride." What's next?
XHIBIT:
I'm in a unique position. The show exposed me to new networks of people and it's my job to make the different projects work in synergy. Everyone doesn't win the game the same way. The things I have accomplished I am very proud of. I am going to Amsterdam and Paris with Ice Cube to perform soon and work on new music when I return. In the acting game I am still learning. You look at Morgan Freeman and Denzel and all the people that preceeded me and see there definitely are some big shoes to fill. Coming from the music side, I have to attack it that much harder. I don't have a theatrical background, so you can only do as well as you prepare for and I am getting myself ready

"American Violet" opens in theaters today.

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