It’s been a while since we saw O’Shea Jackson Jr. walking the red carpet with his father of the same name. While Jackson was busy filming Ice Cube’s hit box office biopic, Straight Outta Compton, the time in front of the camera also transformed the self-defined nerd and homebody from a screenwriter into an actor.
Jackson, who studied screenwriting at the University of Southern California, began penning worlds from his imagination, put that on pause to portray the iconic rapper in the 2015 film.
“I wanted to make sure that people appreciated everything my father had done,” Jackson told ESSENCE earlier this year. “I’ve just been running with it from there. Even from all these films that I’m doing, all these people that I’m meeting, these great production teams that I get to work with, it’s just me getting to a point where I can get back to my writing, get back to creating those worlds, and give other people opportunities and motivation.”
Between projects, however, Jackson has not only taken on more roles in films such as Ingrid Goes West, but he also became a father to a daughter named Jordan. The actor said it’s forced him to operate on “a different level.”
“It gives you a new purpose in life,” Jackson said of fatherhood. “It is game time. It is fourth quarter, and it makes you about your business. It makes you more calculated in how you handle yourself and the things that will represent your child going further in life.”
Jackson told ESSENCE that his “hilarious” daughter was born in 2017 while he was filming his forthcoming project, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, out May 31.
“And the day she was born was actually the day I got to touch Godzilla’s skin so it was super meaningful and it was deep. It was great,” the actor recalled. “That’s my best friend.”
[I want to] make sure that she’s never fearful of showing her strength and being able to speak her mind. To be a Black woman in this country, you’ve got to do that tenfold.”O’Shea Jackson Jr.
But Jackson is completely aware of the unique challenges that come with raising a young Black women in America. It’s one he’s already thinking about despite the fact that his daughter can’t talk in complete sentences just yet.
“Any man as soon as you have a daughter, your first mindset is to make sure that she is the strongest woman possible,” he explained. “It is all about instilling everything that you know. It’s just about mentally preparing her for everything that’s going to be thrown at her.”
Jackson continued that it’s top priority “to make sure that she’s never fearful of showing her strength and being able to speak her mind. To be a Black woman in this country, you’ve got to do that tenfold.”
It’s why, the actor said, he signed onto Long Shot, out May 3, starring Charlize Theron as the Secretary of State, vying for the presidency of the United States of America. When Theron’s Charlotte learns she’s down in the polls and needs to come across more relatable, she hires a screenwriter, played by Seth Rogen. But Rogen’s Fred has a childhood crush on his new boss. With Charlotte becoming the most powerful woman in the world, their relationship seems nearly impossible.
“She’s running for president. She’s running the country. It speaks to women’s empowerment, and that’s another reason why it’s called Long Shot because of the struggle that she has to go through and that she hopefully prevails. For that to be a message from a movie that I’m in, it’s an honor,” Jackson boasted.
In the film, Jackson portrays Rogen’s onscreen bestie, Lance. And once you see the actor burst—literally—onto the screen, you can’t help but be motivated to not only become a better person, but a better friend. Lance is the type of friend that hypes you up on your worst day—like when Rogen’s Fred gets fired from his job after working on a super tough story that leaves him injured. He’s the type of friend that makes you believe your crazy dreams can come true. He’s the type of friend to leave “Yassssss!” underneath your dry Instagram photo.
Jackson said he was inspired by his own friends when portraying Lance.
“Me and my crew of friends we’re constantly hyping each other up, and constantly letting each other believe that you can fly if you wanted to,” he explained. “It was just taking that to the extreme.”
Long Shot, also starring Bob Odenkirk and Lisa Kudrow, is in theaters on May 3.