Sure, people say “money can’t buy happiness,” but when you’re young, living in the projects and sick of your surroundings, that old saying seems like a lie. Such is the case for Kevin Carson, the lead character in the Erik White film Lottery Ticket.
Kevin, played by rapper/actor Bow Wow, is a recent high school graduate who appears to have a bleak future ahead of him. Teamed with his best friends Stacie (Naturi Naughton) and Benny (Brandon T. Jackson) he does what he can to survive in his dilapidated environment. But Kevin’s life is turned upside down after an interesting twist of fate lands him with a lottery ticket worth $370 million. After realizing he won’t be able to cash the ticket until after the Fourth of July weekend, Kevin must keep it safe and maintain his sanity as his whole community desperately tries to obtain their share of his winnings by any means necessary.
Lottery Ticket marks White’s directorial feature film debut and also features an all-star lineup including Ice Cube, Charlie Murphy, Mike Epps and T-Pain.
The AFRO sat down with Bow Wow and Jackson to discuss their characters in the film as well as the behind the scenes efforts it took to put this laugh-out-loud comedy together.
AFRO: What drew your interest to be in this movie?
Bow Wow: For a lot of people, when they see the trailer they’re like, “I think I know what this movie is” and I’m like, “you have no idea.” You just see a kid winning the lottery but you don’t see the key . The movie has a lot of strong meanings behind it. It deals with not forgetting where you come from and helping others. But at the same time, when people see the film they will see the pressure of making it out of the ‘hood and having something everybody wants a piece of and not knowing who to trust. Everything that Kevin goes through in the movie, I go through .
AFRO: As for you Brandon, do you feel as though there are any similarities between you and your character Benny?
Brandon T. Jackson: Benny’s a street rat. That’s what he is but he aspires to be something more. That’s the best thing about my character, he has a lot of depth, but he’s just not funny. I think that’s how I am in real life—I think about things more so than just being funny. I think about underlying character traits.
AFRO: This is not the first time the two of you have worked together. Can you both explain the chemistry the two of you have?
BTJ: Every time I get around Bow Wow, it’s like a reunion. It’s crazy because we are just a bunch of bad kids and they’re filming it and you guys are watching it happen. It’s not like we’re doing Roll Bounce over, but the energy of us just having a good time is the same. And , Bow Wow’s over here tweetin’ and I’m like, “This guy is good, how can he act and tweet at the same time?” .
BW: Me and Brandon’s chemistry is cool because it’s basically a comfort thing. You know, we did work with each other in Roll Bounce and I think that’s what made Lottery Ticket so easy for me—it was the fact that I had the chance to work with guys that I’ve worked with already. Charlie Murphy was in Roll Bounce, Mike Epps was in it also, I worked with ‘Cube in All About the Benjamins — so being around all these guys felt like a reunion.
AFRO: This film appears to be a light family comedy on the surface but when you see it, you realize that it deals with some pretty heavy issues like poverty, bullying, etc. This may confuse some people the movie’s intended audience. Who do you think this film is primarily going to appeal to?
BTJ: It’s PG-13, so it depends on what you want to expose your kids to. It’s not really a kid’s movie…and it’s not a raunchy movie, but it’s right on that line. We can’t be corny, because we’re too grown for that. We’re still young, but we’re crossing over into that grown situation.
AFRO: Lastly, Bow Wow what do you have lined up for the “Lottery Ticket” soundtrack?
BW: To tell you the honest to God truth, you’re ahead of me because I haven’t seen the full list, . But, this is something that I always fight for in every movie that I do: the first single of the movie. I’m starring in it so, why not? For the previous movies I did, I tried. I tried with Hurricane Season, I tried to do it with Roll Bounce but they just wanted to have all ‘70s music. So I’m like, yo, I haven’t done anything since Like Mike. So I told everybody that I could come up with a record that could tell the story of Lottery Ticket if you guys give me the opportunity to do so. They heard the record and they loved it. So, the “For My Hood” song with me, DJ Khaled and Sean Kingston is a little about me, but it’s mainly dealing with my character Kevin in the movie. Everybody was like, Bow, you’re not from the ‘hood, but…it’s not about that, it’s a song from the movie, and we’re talking about the character.
“Lottery Ticket” debuts in theaters nationwide on Aug. 20. For more information, visit: www.lotteryticketmovie.com.