After James Brown and Ryan Seacrest, Nick Cannon has to be the hardest working man in show business. The actor (Real Husbands of Hollywood) and stand-up comedian (Nick Cannon: Mr. Showbiz) is also a Nickelodeon television executive who is currently the host of America’s Got Talent and writer, producer and host of the long-time running music-comedy sketch series Nick Cannon’s Wild ‘N Out, which airs on Wednesdays on MTV2 (check your local listings).
In addition, the multi-hyphenated 33-year-old, who is also rumored to be starring in an upcoming biopic on comedy legend Richard Pryor, makes his feature directorial debut when his teen romcom School Dance hits theaters this month.
Cannon slowed down just enough to chat with BET.com about Wild ‘N Out’s new season. He also reveals whether or not his wife, Mariah Carey, really knows who Kim Kardashian is and his thoughts on the new TV adaptation of his hit film Drumline.
It’s the 10th season of your comedy-music series, Wild ‘N Out. What can audiences expect from the show a decade after its premiere?
It’s another great season and we got some heavy hitters on this time. Everyone from Rick Ross, Wiz Khalifa, Amber Rose, Bow Wow came through and represented, Nelly from Real Husbands, all my friends. And of course, we have all the hottest artists like Meek Mill performing. It’s everybody you’d ever want to see.
You’ve been juggling multiple projects for years. Did the folks at MTV ever ask if you wanted to pass your Wild ‘N Out duties to someone else? What drives you to be so hands on and involved with the series?
They’ve discussed it with me and asked, “Hey, do we give it to someone else?” But nobody else can really handle it. It’s my baby. I just love it and to me it doesn’t even seem like work. It’s fun for me to be able to hang with my friends. To get out there and joke around, that’s what we do anyway. It just happens to be we have cameras turned on.
Tell us about your new film, School Dance. You wear multiple hats behind the camera on that project.
I wrote it, produced it and directed it. It’s exciting for me to have my first feature out there. Again it’s another environment where everybody came through and represented for me. Kevin Hart was there, Lord Jamar, Mike Epps, Lil Duval, George Lopez, Luenell, Affion Crockett. It was a heavy-hitting cast.
What was the inspiration behind the film?
It’s a bit right out of my stand-up act, which is a bit out of my life. I grew up in a neighborhood where we had these things called lock-ins. To keep the kids off the streets they had these overnight school dances to keep them safe. And that was the place where I ended up losing my virginity. So I kind of took that story and created School Dance.
During your last appearance on Howard Stern you mentioned that your wife, Mariah Carey, had no idea who Kim Kardashian was. With the publicity blitz from the Kimye wedding do you think that’s still the case?
I opened my big mouth and I think she does now [laughs.] I think she always did [know who Kim was] but I think it was one of those things she never really paid attention to — like reality TV and all that type of stuff.
When discussing being married to Mariah, you never shy away from the fact that in addition to falling in love with your dream woman, you also married well because she’s a pretty rich woman. Why do you think you’re so comfortable talking about that aspect of your life?
It’s one of those things where I’m a real dude with self-deprecating humor. So I have no problem saying what people are thinking. Putting it out there, that’s what humor is about. It’s supposed to make people comfortable. I do that to put every situation at ease.
It was reported recently that your 2002 film, Drumline, will now be a TV series. Can you tell us more about it?
We just finished shooting it. It comes out in October on VH1. It was my whole concept and I produce it. So not only do we get another HBCU experience, but we’re bringing it to TV. There’s nothing like this on television right now, so I wanted to bring that experience back. With Drumline, the series, we’re telling where the next chapter goes. I make a small cameo in it, DeRay Davis is in it and we have a whole new cast of young people that are coming through and doing their thing.
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(Photo: John Parra/Getty Images)