On January 17, 1992, Juice, the feature film written and directed by Ernest R. Dickerson was released to a national audience. The movie would be well-received by critics, but as years passed the film would become so much more. In what was not your typical coming-of-age film, it told the story of four Harlem youths trying to find their way in the world—by any means necessary.
Juice launched the careers of young actors such as Omar Epps and Khalil Kain, and also gave audiences a glimpse into how special Tupac Shakur would become. The film resonated with people of color everywhere, exploring themes of police harassment, poverty, gang activity and the flawed public school system.
The film came to be known for its focus on hip-hop culture; the still growing genre that would eventually take the world by storm. Outside of the movie’s main characters, Juice also featured prominent rap acts such as Special Ed, Doctor Dré & Ed Lover, Fab 5 Freddy, EPMD, Treach, and Flex Alexander. 30 years after its’ release, Juice still continues to impact the culture and serves a nostalgic reminder of the beauty of urban life in the early 90s.
Take a look at our list of the actors that made the film so special—then, and now.
Prior to his energetic, standout performance as “Bishop” in the film Juice
, Tupac Amaru Shakur was an up-and-coming rapper on the verge of international fame. He appeared on Digital Underground’s “Same Song
,” and had just released his debut album 2Pacalypse Now in November of 1991.
Today, more than 25 years after his untimely death in 1996, Tupac transcended the entertainment industry and became a global icon for his introspective lyrics, transparent lifestyle, and undeniable ability to connect with millions of fans around the world.
Quincy “Q” Powell
In what would be his first starring role in a feature film, Omar Epps played “Q,” the ambitious and talented DJ, and one-fourth of the crew.
Since then, Epps has had an incredible career in cinema, appearing in movies such as Higher Learning, The Wood, Love & Basketball, and Almost Christmas. His roles on ER, House, This Is Us and Power Book III: Raising Kanan allowed the Brooklyn-born actor to become a staple in network television.
Khalil Kain portrayed Raheem in Juice—his first ever film role. He was the voice of reason for the group, and Q’s biggest supporter.
Kain’s acting career spans over 30 years, highlighted by performances as Keith in In Living Single, Marvin Cox in Love Jones, Darnell in Girlfriends and Bill in For Colored Girls, just to name a few. Kain, 57, now lives in New York with his wife, artist Elise Lyon and children.
Eric “Steel” Thurman
Jermaine Hopkins burst onto the scene in the 1989 film Lean on Me, three years prior to his breakout role as “Steel” in Juice. He was chubby, and often caught the most jokes from the crew.
Jermaine R. Hopkins
He became synonymous with 90s Black cinema, appearing in Phat Beach
and Def Jam’s How to Be a Player
alongside Bill Bellamy
. Hopkins’ most recent role was in 2012, as legal troubles began to hinder his career.
Before landing the role of Yolanda—Q’s more mature girlfriend—Herron won Miss San Francisco in 1986, and appeared in episodes of Amen, Full House and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. She was most known as one of the original members of the legendary singing group En Vogue.
Cynthia “Cindy” Ann Herron
After the release of Juice, Herron continued her career with En Vogue, and also starred in the theatrical version of Dreamgirls in 2007.
Before landing the role as Ruffhouse MC—the judge for Q’s DJ competition—Queen Latifah had already established herself as an amazing emcee and a voice for women’s empowerment in the late-80s.
Queen Latifah—born Dana Elaine Owens—is now one of the most versatile entertainers in the world. In 2002, she was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Chicago, and has won a Golden Globe, two Grammy Awards, and a Primetime Emmy.
One would need thousands of words to chronicle Samuel L. Jackson’s career pre and post Juice. In the film, Jackson played “Trip,” the owner of a local store that the crew frequented.
Samuel L. Jackson
Since Juice, Samuel L. Jackson has excelled in film, stage, and television, and has become one of the highest-grossing actors in history.
In Juice, George Gore, II played Q’s younger brother Brian.
George O. Gore, II
A few years after his appearance in the film, he played Malik Yoba’s son in New York Undercover, as well as being a series regular in My Wife and Kids, alongside Damon Wayans.
Vincent Laresca had one of the film’s more memorable roles—Radames, Bishop’s neighborhood enemy. In the film, Radames’ death marked the shift in Bishop’s personality, straying to a point of no return.
After his portrayal of Radames, Laresca maintained an active role in film and television, appearing in Money Train, The Devil’s Advocate, The Aviator, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and CSI: NY.