While the sons of many famous rappers are busy following in their father’s footsteps, Christopher Jordan (CJ) Wallace is forging an entirely different place for himself in the industry. After making his feature film debut two years ago in his dad’s life story, Notorious, the 14-year old son of The Notorious B.I.G. and Faith Evans has chosen a diverse and equally impressive outing for his sophomoric movie effort. In the new indie drama Everything Must Go, Wallace stars opposite comedy king Will Ferrell as a teenage kid who helps a down-and-out man with his yard sale. BET.com spoke to CJ about his new movie, his dad Biggie and why he chose acting over rapping.
What I loved about Everything Must Go is that your character Kenny didn’t save Will Ferrell and he didn’t save you. You were just two people at different stages in your lives that became friends. Why did you want to be in the movie?
It seemed like more of a challenge to me because Kenny is a loner. His mom works all the time and he doesn’t really have friends, all he does is ride around on his bike. I liked Kenny's maturity because I hate being treated like a child. The character was really mature.
Between the two movie roles you’ve played so far who would you say you’re more like in real life, Kenny or your dad as a kid?
Somewhere in the middle, I think. I feel like I’m closer to my dad as a child just because in some ways I feel like I’m more a younger version of him. But I’m also like Kenny because I’m well-mannered and he’s different. I like that about him—that’s why I liked the character.
It must have been really cool to work with Will Ferrell.
I love Will, and after what we did [in the movie] it showed me how great he is. I love all of his movies—Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is my favorite one. I could watch that all the time, it’s always funny to me. So I wasn’t gonna pass up the chance to work with him because it was an amazing opportunity. Whenever I had questions, he would help me all the time. Will was real easy to work with and very helpful.
Let’s talk about your Dad a bit. I know you were still a baby when he passed, but do you understand how iconic and beloved he and his music still is?
I never really knew him—it’s hard to believe that sometimes. Maybe if I would have known him or had conversations with him it would have been different. But I haven’t really understood all of that yet.
Does your mom ever tell you about how you're similar to your dad?
My mom always says I’m a lot like him. She says I even rub my nose the way he did and the way I breathe and snore is like him, too. She always says that I remind her of him.
So as the son of the Notorious B.I.G., why didn’t you want to become a rapper?
I really just wanted to make my own path. I definitely would not be able to continue my dad’s rapping legacy because I’m not on that level yet—I’m not that good. I rap, I joke around, but I’m not serious about it. I didn’t want people to be like, "Like CJ, little Biggie." I’d rather them be like, "CJ the actor made his own movie, directed his own film and won the Oscar," stuff like that.
When did you realize you wanted to act?
After doing Notorious I wanted to act, but at first I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to be in the movie because I thought it would be real typical for CJ to play his Dad. My grandmother [Biggie’s Mom Voletta Wallace] set up the audition for it. She told me, "You should go in and read." She wanted me to do it.
I love that you are choosing such different types of films to be in. What do you want to do next?
I recently read for this movie called Rocket 88, about kids who race soapbox cars. Me and four other kids had a table reading with the director and producers. We read through the entire script and I’m really looking forward to it.
And finally, what kind of advice does your mom give you about show business?
It’s always school first. Because if I’m not doing well in school, I can't do this [acting.] I’m in ninth grade, a freshman, and my favorite class is English. School is number one right now. My mom trusts me and she raised me very well. I’m real respectful and I don’t always go for the limelight. I just wait my turn and it comes, that’s what she taught me. And it’s paying off.
Everything Must Go is in theaters today.
(Photo: Scott Gries/Getty Images)