Thirty years in the entertainment industry, Method Man wants nothing more than to be taken seriously. After gaining fame as a rapper with Wu-Tang Clan beginning in 1992, Method Man, born Clifford Smith Jr., has made what he describes as “a hell of a transition” to an actor — and an acclaimed one at that.
In 2021, Meth, as he is often affectionately referred to, won an NAACP Image Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of Davis Maclean on the Starz spin-off Power Book II: Ghost. He also has a recurring guest starring role in the Epix series Godfather of Harlem. As our digital cover star for February, Method Man talked to us about the work he put in to show the powers that be he had the acting chops to be on the silver screen, and a few of the pitfalls along the way.
On believing in himself
“Understand, I was a Black boy living in some of the worst areas in New York,” says the 50-year-old rapper turned actor, who was raised in the Clifton neighborhood of Staten Island. “I’ve always felt like I wasn’t enough. I’ve been told that from the gate, ‘You don’t belong here.’ Sometimes even without words.”
On moving from rapper to actor
“The higher-ups, the so-called gatekeepers didn’t have much use for a 44-year-old rapper,” he says of the changing musical landscape in recent years. “I guess my background turned some people off. Some people aren’t willing to give you a chance, especially when you’ve already had one and you kind of squandered it.”
“There was a changing of the guard in hip-hop. I was cool with that. I had to evolve with the business and if that meant acting, so be it. I was going to throw all my eggs in one basket.”
On being a sex symbol
“I don’t understand that sh–. I go to the gym for my own peace of mind. I don’t do it to become someone’s sex symbol or a pinup on someone’s wall. I do it for me.”
“People like attention. I’m the same as everybody else. But at the end of the day, take me seriously, not lightly.”
Article continues after video.
Photographer, Flo Ngala @flongala
Writer, Veronica Wells @VDubShrug
Stylist, Alexander-Julian Gibbson @alexanderjulian
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