As hip-hop trailblazer Roxanne Shanté, newcomer Chanté Adams conjures a big-screen debut to remember
“You always picture your dreams coming true in the future, I just didn't know the future was so near,” says actress Chanté Adams, who went from working in small theatre projects at her alma mater, Carnegie Mellon, to being cast as the lead in Roxanne Roxanne, a Pharrell-produced biopic about pioneering MC Roxanne Shanté.
She had just weeks to dig her claws into the role about the Queensbridge rapper before production began, throwing herself at YouTube clips and studying old diss tracks. Luckily, Adams received Shanté’s blessing before cameras rolled. “As soon as she saw me she was surprised to see how much I looked like her when she was younger and told me not to worry and trust what I know. She felt confident in me, which made me confident in myself.”
As the film exited Sundance with film distributors nipping at its heels, Adams cashed out on her first big role with a series of scripts now landing on her agent’s desk. Often, when everything happens in fast-forward, it’s simply time catching up with an icon in the making. “I was afraid (as) it was my first film,” she says. “I didn't know how people would feel about my performance, being so new to the industry, but they welcomed me with open arms.”