Cuba Gooding, Jr. to CBN News: 'These Stories About African Americans Can't be Ignored Anymore'
- Jerry!(rap music)
- Yeah, what, what, what can I do for you?
- Show me the money!
- [Man] Acting in the film Jerry McGuire
earned Cuba Gooding,Jr., an Academy Award.
- You're a colored manin the white man's army.
It's a miracle you're flying fighters
in Italy and not--- [Man] But, here,
in roles in real-lifeAmerican hero stories,
like Red Tails, TuskegeeAirmen, and The Butler,
are Gooding's signature performances.
- Any of you wanna wash yourselves out,
well, negro, please do so.
And I'll have you on thenext thing smokin' back home
to make room for the menwho wanna stand and fight.
- You gotta remember
I grew up in the '80s and '90s,
and in my schooling,
we didn't have a lot of these stories
about African Americans' participation
in American history.
We didn't have the Tuskegee Airmens,
the Red Tails, the Men of Honors.
I didn't know about DorieMiller and Pearl Harbor.
- Ah, yes, the pawns.
They are the front line.
- [Narrator] Here, Cubaplays Eugene Brown,
a real-life modern-day hero
who went from serving timein prison to saving lives
through the game of chess.
- These stories can't be ignored anymore.
And I think when I read
the fact that this was just a very normal
man that's incarcerated,
comes out and does good,
like a Lean on Me oreven Remember the Titans,
this had the same essence of nobility,
in that this man was notonly doing something great
for the inner, for the community,
there's a epidemic of blackon black crime still today,
and gang violence that isdestroying the family nucleus
in today's society in America.
And I think part of that
is due to the fact
that these young black men,
feel like they have no choice but,
to pick up a gun and represent their hood.
Where's the father figurein these men's lives?
It's not just white Americatelling black America,
do better, we as Black Americansshould be telling ourselves
we come from royalty,you know, we come from,
a royal lineage, and,
it's these stories that whenthose kids have the decision to
take the gun, and be a thug,or to get an education and,
do something great like thepast shows we have done,
then maybe these kids willmake a different decision, and
it's a story like this, you know,
I never played chess growing up,
I knew nothing about chess but,
to have those chess masters on the set,
talking us through thementality behind the game,
it is like life.
It's a great metaphor for our youth today.
- Do you think the game itselfhas a rehabilitating power?
I know Eugene Brown -
- [Cuba] I think it does.
I think a lot of times,
I mean, even if you think of that scene
in Boyz in the Hood,
Tre goes with Doughboy and his father says
"Think, Tre," and he gets out of the car.
Cause I think in all thatanger and frustration,
he's willing to push past it,
and picture what it'll be likeif he does get retribution.
And then, make the decisionnot to go down that road,
and it's just like ifyou're on a chess board,
and you say "well, if I make this move,
I could make that one,that'd be great, but,
if they make these, I'm done, so,
I can't make that move,
I have to make a movethat protects the king,
and goes after their piece."
- [Interviewer] Seeing the end game?
- That's right, gotta see the end game.
- You mentioned Boyz in the Hood,
it is my favorite movie of all time.
- Oh, wow!
- And here's the reason why,
anyway, I was young when I saw it,
- Yeah, I was young and stupid.
- Yeah, I was younger but,
it's the scene where youare stopped by the police.
- Oh yeah, yeah.
- [Narrator] Your character and then you,
Tre goes to his girlfriend's house and,
it's this level of frustration was like,
"I'm doing all the thingsI'm supposed to be doing but,
here it is, I get stopped."
As I tell my family, I was like,
"you know, Cuba Gooding Jris there boxing the air,
this is what I feel like, I'mon the dean's list in college,
and I come home, and I gotstopped by the police,"
I'm like that's what I felt.
It was like the frustration like,
Okay, you still onlysee, that's all you see,
is the color of my skin,and you stop me for,
for no blatant reason.
Did you know the power of thisfilm when you were making it?
- I'm sorry bout your friend.
My heart goes out to hismother and his family,
but that's their problem, Tre,
you my son, you my problem.
I want you to give me the gun.
Oh, I see.
You wanna end up like littleChris in the wheelchair, huh?
No, no, you gonna endup like Doughboy, huh?
- [Cuba] Well there was a lotof things that were happening,
that were reflective ofthe story we were telling.
There was a fist fight on set,
there was a couple ofgunshots in South Central,
while we were shooting.
We would all look at each other like,
"Whoa," cause it was happening around us.
I'm telling you, I couldn't make this up,
at the time I lived in a real urban area,
outside of the city,
in a predominately white neighborhood and,
the day after shooting that scene,
I was pulled over, and Iwasn't harassed like that,
but I'll never forget this cop.
He was like "what are youdoing in this neighborhood?"
I was like "I live here,"
you know, it was like, that type of thing.
I think that there was justa real connection to society
and what we were dealingwith as a nation of people.
And I think that's whyit still resonates today.
- What continues to drive you?
You're in an industry whereit's really, really hard,
- But you've won an academy award.
- You've had some greatroles, and continue.
What is it that drivesyou to stick this out?
- You know, just the fact thatI'm not gonna live forever.
You're not gonna liveforever, and I think the work,
if the work is representativeof what I want my sons
to become then that's a good thing.
You know, I have a daughter now.
She'll always be thedaughter of Cuba Gooding Jr.
No matter what I do about it,
so why not ensure myselfthat'll be a good thing.