Words by: Amir Shaw
Images by: DeWayne Rogers
Styling by: Chris Mannor
Grooming by: Carlos Amaro
Too often there seems to be a curse on former child stars. We’ve all heard countless stories of former child stars who find it difficult to adjust to life once adulthood arrives and their cuteness wears off. Beyond the obvious child star tragedies in Hollywood, hip-hop has also witnessed the rise and tragic fall of several prominent child rappers.
Another Bad Creation were no longer relevant in the music business four years after releasing the hit single “Iesha”; Kris Kross could never duplicate the success of “Jump”; and although Bow Wow recently signed to Cash Money records, he’s also had difficulties adjusting and once tweeted, “If I could do it over, I would’ve went to school and got a regular job.”
The pressure of being in the entertainment spotlight at an early age can be insurmountable for most. But somehow, Romeo Miller never wavered. The son of rapper/mogul Master P, Romeo entered the limelight at the age of 12 and his debut album, Lil Romeo, eventually went platinum. He transitioned to becoming a teen actor on Nickelodeon and even found time to become a high school basketball star. After three years on the University of Southern California basketball team, Romeo decided to leave school and return to the entertainment business.
But this time around, Romeo dropped the “Lil” and is now a grown man making big time career moves. He participated in ABC’s hit reality show “Dancing With The Stars;” appeared in the film Jumping the Broom; had a guest spot on VH-1’s “Single Ladies,” and co-stars in Tyler Perry’s new movie Madea’s Witness Protection. Romeo will not be the former child star who succumbs to drugs and alcohol. He will not have an embarrassing arrest record. You will not see him in TV specials that highlight the plight of washed up celebrities. Romeo is on the verge of taking his acting career to the next level.
While promoting Madea’s Witness Protection and his new music ventures in Los Angeles, Romeo took a moment to reveal to rolling out how he transitioned from being a teen sensation to certified sex symbol.
I think a lot of artists don’t understand the concept of change. It’s just like, life because as a kid growing up in the business, I saw my father evolve every few years. Just knowing that everything is going to change with time and nothing stays the same. I remember I used to wear baggy jeans and everybody used to have their throwback jerseys. There’s no way I would wear those kind of clothes now. But just like fashion changes, your body, mind and life change as well.
You mentioned your father, Master P. How has he helped you to maintain a level-head after experiencing success at an early age?
He says life has no limits and that’s why he named the label that. The main thing is you’re the richest person on earth if you have your education. That is why I put my career on hold for three years to go to school at USC, and I still only have one more year left until I graduate. If you have your education, anything is possible at the end of the day because nobody can take that away from you.
How did your role with Madea Witness Protection about come about?
Well my new movie Madea Witness Protection, is with me, Tyler Perry, Eugene Levy and Tom Arnold. Tyler reached out to me and asked if I wanted to be a part of it, and being from New Orleans … it’s actually like a dream come true being able to work with him. That was somebody I always looked up to, and he reminds me of my father because what my dad did in the music industry, I feel that he’s taking that same formula and doing it in the acting world. So it was definitely a pleasure to do this movie with Tyler Perry, and I’m gonna say this right now, that it’s the funniest Madea movie out. It’s funny and it’s gonna make you laugh and cry, but you’re gonna learn something at the end of the day.”
What have you learned most about working with Tyler Perry?
I’ve learned that you don’t have to be on set for 50 hours. If you know what you want and you get it, keep moving. Working on set with him I learned that persistence is the key. As long as you know what you want, go get it and keep it going. You don’t have to do 150 takes. I was literally on set for two takes at most. Tyler’s a professional and he loves what he does. I learned from Eugene Levy, who’s been in this business for as long as I’ve been on this planet earth. Both of these guys love waking up in the morning and doing their job. When you have that type of passion with something, it can take you a long way.
You were also on “Single Ladies.” How have you adjusted to being a sex symbol?
I think my fans are really gonna appreciate my character on ‘Single Ladies’ and that’s why I wanted to do it — and that’s why I was so eager to do it and show my fans the more grown side. I don’t wanna rush anything, I wanna casually get into it, and that’s what I [have] been doing my whole career. That’s why I think people been respecting what we been doing. But, me and my character on ‘Single Ladies’ is a lot different from any character you’ve ever seen me play. It’s a little bit more intimate and a little bit more loving.”
What are three things that make every woman sexy?
Education; gotta be a smart woman and independent. Good heart; everyone loves a woman who loves kids and their outlook on life is positive. You gotta know how to cook. If you don’t know how to cook then that’s a problem, especially if you’re from the South like me. And give good massages. I could keep going.
What can we expect from you as far as music is concerned?
I’m the president of the company. We’ve already sold 80 plus million records and we want to triple that. We want to make good music. When I sign somebody I look for somebody with a good heart and who wants to make a change, not necessarily perfect, but somebody like my dad, who’s not from the best neighborhood, but who wants to make a difference for their family and has that hunger. I may drop a mixtape on Twitter right before my movie opens, but y’all stay posted on that.
How will people remember Romeo?
I’m just trying to follow in my father’s footsteps and what he did. But the main thing is, I just want to make a difference. We use this entertainment, and what we do to make a difference in the world and help save lives and inspire kids. That’s what they say in the Bible, “God gives you a talent, you got to use that talent to inspire others.” At the end of the day it’s all about making a difference for our community and our future. So I kind of want to be the president without being the president really. I’m a let Barack Obama be the real president, but I’ll be in the foreshadow just playing my part in the community and just making a difference. And that’s why we work so hard. The bigger star you are the bigger amount of people you can reach out to.”