Omar Gooding said John Singleton called his momager and told her:
Mrs. Gooding listen, I made one of your son’s a movie star, I would like to make your other son a movie star.
Omar told the backstory of how he got to that call during the interview:
The way that I, actually, landed ‘Baby Boy’… I’ll try to tell this quickly.
The story was this… So, I auditioned for a movie called ‘Freedom Song,’ right?…
Now, ‘Freedom Song’ was about the first sit-ins in Mississippi it was a TNT film, right?…
So I auditioned, I did great, because the room loved me, ‘You was great man, we love you, we’ll see you on the set’ type of thing, you know, I walk out of there like, all right!… I didn’t get the part.
They started filming, they hired someone else due to politics, you know, someone else got the role.
That person went out to a nightclub, got punched in the eye, went back to work the next day.
Somebody did a drive-by hand signal to him. Shook him up so bad he jumped on a plane and flew back home.
Then they called up Omar Gooding, and said, ‘Hey man, yeah, remember that role you… yeah yeah they need you to come out there to fly out to Wilmington, North Carolina.’
I said, ‘I thought they was already filming… Yeah yeah, no no, one of the actors quit!’
I was like, ‘They do that?… Black actors quit?… Where they make people like this at?…’
So I pulled up, you know what I mean, and I’m doing my thing, and, you know, and, um, we had one… you know, it wasn’t a huge role it was just… I was one of the kids that were, uh, sitting at the lunch counter for the sit-ins to get arrested so I showed some intensity on my face.
And, um, flash forward a few years later, my mother gives me a call, she was managing me, and she said, ‘Yeah, I got a call from John Singleton.’ I said, ‘Wow!… That’s great!’
She said yeah, yeah, yeah, he said, ‘Uh, Mrs. Gooding listen, I made one of your sons a movie star. I would like to make your other son a movie star. I have a script for him and I will send it to you, and, uh, give me his phone number’ and so forth and then…
‘Yeah, yeah give him my number Mama, go ahead and you can do that.’
So he calls me says, ‘I got a script for you brother, hit the gym, and I will see you in about three months, and I read the script, and it was another thing that just floored me.
You know, and I was like, ‘Bro how did you even consider me for… He said, ‘Man I saw you in this movie called, uh, ‘Freedom Song.’
I said, ‘Freedom Song?’… I was in there that long and you saw…’
That man was such a visionary, man, that for him to see that role in me, by me sitting at this lunch counter, you know what I mean, that long was just amazing, and then I just, you know, then the role itself was therapy for me because being an actor, being a child actor…
I touched on, you know, my friends, and being in the streets, and so forth and so on, you know, people would say, ‘Oh, man that’s that guy from that show blah, blah, blah…’
I said, ‘Yeah, that’s my job you don’t know me as a person so I would have to defend myself. I did music, I did, you know what I’m saying, all I had was some groups, you know, my father and mother divorced, got back together, he said, ‘Yo, let’s do a group, you know, it was a lot, it was a lot going on.
…Then I get this script, and I read this script, and I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, you mean I could channel all this aggression, all this anger, everything that I’ve been, you know, experienced as a young Black man out here in these streets trying to sort of prove himself and show that I’m just a man, like, don’t just say, ‘Oh you that funny dude.’
Like, knock it off, like, you know what I’m saying, there’s another side that, hopefully, I don’t have to show.
But I can just channel all of that, and aim, and point. Okay, bet let’s go!… You know, I’m like, ‘How does he know that that’s even in me?’
Because these are things that I keep… They don’t make TMZ, they don’t do with no social media, they wasn’t like that.
People don’t know what I go through or what I went through, you know, as a young adult.
But, even when I auditioned for him, three months later, he was like, ‘Alright, you look good man. Alright, you lost some weight.’
20 years old, you can drop 20 pounds in a weekend, so you know, he’s like, ‘You look good, sound good, that’s cool. Alright, alright, we’ll be in touch,’ right?…
A whole month goes by, I don’t hear nothing… A MONTH!
And then I got a phone call and said you got the role, I said, ‘What!’
But even then, there was still a process. I still had to get that, kind of that eye of the tiger.
Like, you know, I had to lock into Sweetpea, you know, because I was raw and had all this rage…
And they had a couple cats that was like, ‘Hey look man, all that yelling your doing, that’s not it, that’s not it, bro. Bring it in, you got to internalize it.’
And that’s when Sweetpea came out because I was almost like talking through my teeth. I was so… I had so much, so I had to, like, yeah you got all that rage… ‘Find me a job Jody!’ Like, I had to be able to get that without yelling, ‘FIND ME A JOB!’…
No, that’s ridiculous, no but he’s gonna be angered, but know I’m trying to control it, trying to temper that rage.
But, once I got it… locked in!
…So with this opportunity, man, it was great for me because I was able to show that side to people that doubted me.
…Yes, that role itself helped open many doors for me.
Omar Gooding gave a masterful performance of his character Sweetpea in John Singleton’s 2001 film Baby Boy.
Before appearing in Baby Boy, Omar appeared on numerous television shows, including:
- Touch by an Angel
- Wild & Crazy Kids
- Hangin with Mr. Cooper
- Smart Guy
Omar also has a new television show on Disney called “Saturdays” that premiered on March 24.
We wish Omar Gooding much success in all his future endeavors.
RIP to the legend John Singleton.