Jeffrey "Ja Rule" Atkins talks about his new film, "I'm in Love with a Church Girl," a faith-based tale of redemption chronicling the real-life reformation of drug dealer-turned-pastor Galley Molina.
Kam Williams: Hey Ja, thanks for the interview.
Ja Rule: What's happening, killer?
KW: I appreciate the opportunity.
JR: Me too, Kam. Thanks for having me.
KW: I told my readers I'd be interviewing you, and they sent in a lot of questions. Rev. Florine Thompson, who is also from Queens, asks: "What interested you in 'I'm in Love with a Church Girl?'"
JR: First of all, I just enjoyed reading the script. Second, I also liked a lot of the parallels between me and the character Miles Montego. Those similarities convinced me that I would like to be a part of the project.
KW: Florine would also like to know whether making this film has influenced your spiritual relationship with your "Higher Power?"
JR: Absolutely! I've always been a spiritual person who believed in a Higher Power. So, I've always had my 1-on-1 with God, even if I wasn't much of a religious person. But I would definitely have to say that this movie brought me even a little closer to God.
KW: Lester Chisholm asks: "Has the experience of working with Pastor Molina on this production enhanced your life?"
JR: Definitely! The movie is Galley's life story. Galley Molina's a great inspiration and role model for a lot of young kids out there.
KW: Documentary director Kevin Williams asks: "How did you prepare for the role?"
JR: One of the things I did was I went to church with Galley to study him, because I thought I'd be doing more preaching in the film.
KW: Was it weird playing him with him right there on the set?
JR: No, that's part of the beauty of doing a true story, having the person that the picture's about there. I felt fortunate to be able to get his advice about how to approach the character and his input about how this or that scene should play out. So, it was great to have Galley there.
KW: What was it like working with this cast, Adrienne Bailon, Stephen Baldwin, Vincent Pastore, etcetera?
JR: Adrienne and I have known each other for a long time. Me and Stephen, too! And Vincent and I worked on two films together prior to this one. So, it was great just being around everybody again and spending time together on the set!
KW: What message do you think people will take away from the film?
JR: This is really an inspirational film, which is all about connecting with people who aren't that much into church, although it's for church people, too. That's the beauty of the film.
KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: "Do you think if gangsta rappers really fell in love with 'Church Girls' they might stop saying horrible and abusive things about females in their songs?"
JR: (LOL) Maybe... maybe... She may be onto something. (Laughs some more) ...
KW: Marsha Evans says she's a resident of Kew Gardens, and a friend of Rev. Run. She says congrats on your daughter's starting at Hampton.
JR: Aw, thank you!
KW: She says she's run into Alan Hevesi (former NYS Comptroller) a few times at the local foreign film theater and that he smiled when she mentioned your name. She'd like to know whether you've applied any of the financial advice you received from him while in prison?
JR: (Chuckles) Heavy D, that's my boy. Alan Hevesi and I forged a great relationship while in prison. I'm glad he's home now. He's an older man, so he belongs home, not behind bars. But I definitely benefitted from his knowledge. I used to pick his brain a lot while we watched the New York Knicks on TV.
KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
JR: My reflection. (LOL) No, that's a tough question. I see a man that's in the process of growth, going from one end to another. ...
KW: What's up for you next, musically?
JR: Actually, I just dropped two new records called "Fresh Out da Pen" and "Everything." They're available on iTunes. ...
KW: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?
JR: I'm an adrenaline guy. I like to do stuff that gets my blood pumping, like roller coasters or jumping out of planes. I'm into all that crazy stuff.
KW: The Kerry Washington question: If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
JR: A lion. ...
KW: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?
JR: Selfishness. To be the best at what you do in any field, and to accomplish the goals you set for yourself, you have to be somewhat selfish. ..
KW: The Gabby Douglas question: If you had to choose another profession, what would that be?
JR: I'd probably be an athlete, either basketball, football or boxing. I was good at those sports.
KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks: "What is your favorite charity?"
JR: My own, the L.I.F.E. Foundation.
KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
JR: Walk carefully! Tread light!
KW: The Tavis Smiley question: "How do you want to be remembered?"
JR: As an artist who was really passionate about his work. And as an inspiration. I do what I do to inspire people.
KW: ... Thanks, Ja, and best of luck with the film.
JR: Sure, Kam, thanks a lot.
(To see a trailer for I'm in Love with a Church Girl, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEmqu0zNkT8.)