What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and right now Bad Boy’s former First Lady Faith Evans is solid as a rock. As the ex-wife of the late legendary Christopher “Biggie Smalls” Wallace and the mother of their 12-year-old son, Evans has lived to see herself immortalized on the big screen in the upcoming biopic “Notorious,” based on the Brooklyn rapper’s life. Although all eyes are on Evans, she concedes that this is not her story, but Voletta Wallace’s. The sultry R&B chanteuse talked to ESSENCE.com about watching her tumultuous marriage unfold on the big screen, allowing her son to play the dad he never knew, and why she and everyone else loved Big Poppa.
ESSENCE.COM: How does it feel to be immortalized on the big screen?
FAITH EVANS: It’s really only by association. I’m proud of Ms. Wallace and I support her project and told her anything they needed they could call on me for it. Although I hadn’t seen the film, I did see a couple of dailies. It was great talking to Antonique and I was able to give her a copy of my book [“Keep the Faith”] early on, which I believed help. Honestly, I was sitting there tapping my foot nervously, anxious to see what made the final cut (laughs).
ESSENCE.COM: Overall, are you content with the film?
EVANS: I am happy. I can’t say there aren’t some discrepancies within the film because it’s not like I was a creative partner in the film. Of course, there are things that I know aren’t correct. For instance, a particular song might not have been out when a certain incident occurred. The people who are watching won’t know but those of us who lived it will. A perfect example is the one scene in the studio with me, Lil’ Kim and Biggie—I don’t remember that happening and it might have been tension between them that I was unaware of, and it happened when we were separated. I didn’t know that happened before. No matter what your walk in life is, you get to know B.I.G. through his words. The footage from the day of the funeral was one of my favorite scenes because I was right there in the limo, and although there is no footage of Ms. Wallace inside the car, Angela Bassett captured her exact look. It was powerful. Seeing all those people who were out there for Biggie that day made it more of a celebration. It was a perfect ending to that day.
ESSENCE.COM: What did you think of your son’s acting debut?
EVANS: No, actually Wayne Barrow [one of the producers ] called when they finally got the deal and said, “I’m thinking it would really be dope if he auditioned and was able to get the part.” So we had an acting coach work with him two times, and after he auditioned, we said let’s wait and see. At first I was against it because I didn’t want to disrupt his school, because it was his first year in junior high. He was the last kid to audition and they said he nailed it. He is so shy I was shocked. He really impressed the [casting director]. One woman said, “Oh, no wonder, he’s his son!” But I’m like, No, he didn’t get this role as a courtesy; he was the last kid to audition and got it. I was so proud of him. I was the momager on set with him and all I kept thinking was, This is CJ, saying his lines on cue! He’s even more reserved and laidback than his dad, so it was interesting to watch him. If it wasn’t this project, I wouldn’t have let him do it, but this is a special project and I believe it was meant for him to do it because he didn’t know B.I.G., and he learned a lot about his dad from this film. He was nervous when he found out he had to curse in the film and asked if I was okay with it. And he hated the tutor, and I had to give him my Debbie Allen speech like, “You want fame? Well fame cost, baby!” (Laughs.)
ESSENCE.COM: Do you think the film provided an accurate portrayal of you and Biggie’s whirlwind romance and volatile marriage?
EVANS: Well, they changed some things. For example, we were together for two months before we married, not nine days. And again, the scene with Lil’ Kim, Biggie and me in the studio—I wasn’t aware of what was going on, but I would say overall they did a great job.
ESSENCE.COM: Folk often speculated that your shotgun wedding was to help jumpstart your career, but you were working behind the scenes before B.I.G. ever came along. Will you please clear the air about that?
EVANS: Yes, I had a career before I met B.I.G. He wasn’t popular like that when we met. I never paid that much mind. We both came out the gate on Bad Boy and God aligned it that way. If we weren’t making hot records, I don’t think that would even be a discussion. People often asked me what attracted me to B.I.G and I tell them he had a certain charm that was his little activation switch to turn people on to him. He always said the right thing and always made you laugh.