The Equalizer’s Queen Latifah and NCIS: Los Angeles star LL Cool J reflected on their trailblazing journeys through the music and entertainment industries, from breaking through to inspiring a new generation of artists.
In a conversation at the virtual SXSW Film Festival moderated by Deadline’s own Dominic Patten, Latifah spoke about leading CBS’ The Equalizer reboot and bringing the beloved crime drama to a modern era. The actress, who is the franchise’s first Black woman equalizer, said that the reboot can serve as an example for different networks about the importance of representative storytelling.
“This is more reflective of what real life would be like anyway,” she said about the latest Equalizer iteration.
The CBS series follows Latifah’s Robyn McCall as she balances her crime-fighting life with her duties as a single mother. While the reboot will focus on Latifah’s champion defending the downtrodden, the latest iteration will also feature The Equalizer’s vulnerable, and warmer side – something that didn’t receive as much attention in previous versions.
To get to this point, Latifah said she used hip-hop as “an entry point,” which is an experience LL Cool J said he can relate to. The NCIS star said that the biggest challenge he faced in his decades long-career was simply “just getting into the game.”
However upon breaking through and upon creating a legacy in music, the actor-rapper cemented his place as NCIS‘ Sam Hanna. When asked how he keeps his performance fresh and new after more than a decade in the role, the Rock the Bells CEO said it’s all about doing “your absolute best everyday.”
As icons in both the music and entertainment worlds, Latifah and LL Cool J encouraged younger artists to explore different avenues of creativity and expression to find their purpose. Additionally, Latifah said that the new generations should look at each other for inspiration and creativity, citing her own relationships with other rappers-turned-actors.
“We’re looking at ICE Cube, we’re looking at each other. We’re feeding off each other’s success and we’re also seeing each other open doors,” Latifah explained.
When it comes open doors, LL Cool J said that he isn’t opposed to the idea of an Equalizer x NCIS: Los Angeles crossover and even envisioned how such an episode would work.
“I would do it in a heartbeat. I think that would be real good and because Equalizer’s a lead-in, we can go in and finish the story on NCIS:LA. I think it’d be great,” he said.