On the Come Up follows the story of 16-year-old Bri who dreams of becoming one the greatest rappers ever. It becomes more than a dream when she has no choice but to succeed to help her family avoid eviction. 

Michael Cooper, who plays Malik, and Miles Gutierrez-Riley, who plays Sonny, recently sat down for a conversation with uInterview founder Erik Meers to discuss starring opposite icons like Mike Epps and Method Man as young actors.

“Everyone approached it with such humility,” Gutierrez-Riley said. “Everyone is so gracious. Everyone had a real appreciation for the actual crafts of both acting and storytelling. It was so easy to learn from them because they were so supportive. You also felt challenged because you had to rise to the occasion to match the legacy of these incredibly talented actors and musicians. It was a cool opportunity as a young actor.”

“Definitely working with some big names like that who have been in the game for song long … they just dropped a lot of gems and provided a lot of knowledge, especially with us being new actors,” Cooper added. “Since I’m very critical, I’m pretty harsh on myself within the craft. I learned to talk to myself nicely, if that makes sense. Just be kind to yourself, since our job is already difficult enough. If you’re not kind to yourself, no one’s really going to be kind to you.”

The two actors also provided insight into their characters and what role they play in Bri’s life.

“What you see with Sonny and Malik is they provide two very different energies,” Gutierrez-Riley revealed. “To Bri, you’ve got Malik who’s sort of more grounded and Sonny who’s sort of the uplifter. I think Sonny’s whole objective is to remain loyal to Bri, regardless of how much she’s changing with these big things being thrown at her in her life. Along the way, Sonny finds titillation in another individual that enters his life and I think he starts to learn about himself and how he’s growing through that.”

“Malik in the film … he’s an extremely genuine guy and provides a sense of comfort to Bri,” Cooper added. “They’ve known each other for such a long time and we’re able to be ourselves one hundred percent. I think he brings her back to reality once her career starts to take off. It’s really important to surround yourself with such grounded people ad I think that’s what Malik provides to Bri.”

On the Come Up is playing in select theaters now.

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