Dennis White aka Dennis Da Menace just don’t stop. He says he’ll sleep when he’s dead. Actor, rapper, singer and presenter, he’s even working on his own cartoon show. Currently involved in filming a movie about Biggie Smalls life, and with an album featuring some Pete Rock joints on the way, I had to find out what else this busy dude is up to.
It was all going so well ‘til the leper comment…
Big up to VonJeff for hooking this one up.
Lady Jay UK: Hey Dennis Da Mennis wassup?
Dennis: What’s goin’ on.
Lady Jay UK: What’s goin on with you?
Dennis: Aww man, just busy right now I’m doing this Biggie Smalls bio pic called ‘Notorious’ so we been in the process of filming. It’s been a long process, we three weeks in but it’s been hectic. But it’s gonna be a great film.
Lady Jay UK: Tell me what your involvement is with it.
Dennis: I play Damian D Rock Butler, Biggie Smalls best friend, confidant, the ones that brings out them things when problems arise. He’s his best friend since he was a little kid and he was with him until he passed away.
Lady Jay UK: How did that come about, you getting that part?
Dennis: I had a mutual friend that knew the casting director, and they knew my work. Last year I was in a film called ‘The Brave One’ with Jodie Foster and Terrence Howard so they saw my work and they wanted me to come in and read. I went in there and I did my dizzle, and it popped off. I murdered it!
Lady Jay UK: Was it a long casting process?
Dennis: Actually it was, one of the longest ones I’ve been to. I’ve done, when I was at Fuse Television I had like maybe three auditions, but this was like five and six. So they had me come in, and come back and the read with the guy who’s playing Biggie, and then come back again and read with him, for the director, the producer , for the people from Fox Searchlight. It was a gruelling process but it was worth it.
Lady Jay UK: How’s it been working on it so far?
Dennis: It’s amazing. We have a wonderful cast, the director George Sillman Jnr, he directed Barbershop, Men Of Honour, Soulfood; so he’s beasty with his… and Ten Gravy, who that was signed to Warner Brothers, he’s playing Biggie. We got Derek Luke, Angela Bassett, Anthony Mac, we got a real beasty cast.
Lady Jay UK: It’s gonna be enormous isn’t it, so they’re gonna have to get it so right, I guess what I’m trying to say is are they very meticulous?
Dennis: Ya, we’re doing $200,000,000 the first weekend! I hope!… It’s coming out January 2009. The script is incredible, the cinematography is impeccable, Puffy’s executive producer, Voletta Wallace, Biggie’s mom is a producer so it is authentic.
Lady Jay UK: New Album, ‘E Pluribus Unum’; what does that mean?
Dennis: Out of many, one. There’s a billion dudes out here that raps that sings n the music, on the block, wherever, London and out in Chiswick! You know what I’m sayin’, wherever you go, there’s people that wanna rhyme but I’m one. I have my own style my own flavour, and definitely I’m different. Fresh air, you know what I’m sayin’.
Lady Jay UK: Tell me more about the album.
Dennis: It’s real eclectic you know . If you put together say, a Knarls Barclay with Pharrell with Kanye with a little DMX mix it all in the pot together, that’s kinda like my album.
Lady Jay UK: So who’s doin’ the production for ya?
Dennis: We got a lotta people, Pete Rock’s doing some songs on there, it’s gonna be hot.
Lady Jay UK: Does one particular track stand out to you?
Dennis: I did a song with a producer named Baby Paul. It’s called ‘Soldier Story’, and it’s talking bout a kid from the States who had to go to war in Iraq, and just the whole thing about him feeling uneasy about doing it. He has to do it, but he wants to come back home, him getting accustomed to the situation… It’s a deep song. I have a lot of homies that are overseas in Iraq, so they love the song. It touched them in the heart.
Lady Jay UK: So apart from the film, what other TV stuff have you got going on?
Dennis: I gotta show called String Comedy, it’s like a sketch comedy show, where, we kinda push the edge racial, sexist, all type of things.
Lady Jay UK: Pissing people off it sounds like.
Dennis: Basically, basically.
Lady Jay UK: How to insult everybody in one show.
Dennis: No, it’s more about reactions. How people react to certain situations. Like, one sketch me and a homegirl, we dress like we’re from the South, we have like raw chicken in her purse, and we getting vendors on the street to cook our chicken yo, like how gangster is that. They cook it up. So you know, just that type of thing. See what people do…
And then we also create situations to where, we have people come in who are unsuspecting, like job interviews, and just wilin’ out. It’s really a cool project. Mindscape produced that, it’s hot.
Lady Jay UK: What about the cartoon series that you’re producing?
Dennis: It’s called Beef Court. It’s a comedy about celebrities in court and different situations. We take it to the extreme; Bobby Brown vs. Whitney Houston – custody battle over a crack pipe. Like Celebrity Death match meets Dave Chappell. It’s funny yo, it’s hilarious.
Lady Jay UK: So who’ve you got writing?
Dennis: Me, Carl Jones, one of the producers of The Boondocks. He’s also doin’ the caricatures. Sway, he’s doin’ something, he has a funny role, when you see it , you’re gonna laugh. We got Sway right on point. It’s a good situation. We’re developing right now. I don’t have a release date yet. We got a lot of people interested we just trying to figure out if we wanna be clean, or like go to HBO Show Time and really thug it out like we really wanted to. And also who’s givin us most money, so…
Lady Jay UK: So you used to be in gospel musicals when you were young.
Dennis: Yea. I used to pimp church hoe’s. I’m just playing. My mom’s a nominated gospel writer, for a couple groups. So I grew up singing in church, travelling.., ‘My grandmother stole my welfare cheque’ stuff like that, that’s where I got my start. But it was cool because you learn how to be versatile. You’re on stage, you’re singing, you’re rappin’, you’re dancing, you’re acting, doing comedy, and you’re touring. It was a springboard for things I’m doin’ right now.
Lady Jay UK: You sound like you’re working really hard, like consistently.
Dennis: It’s a blessing though. It’s a blessing to be a working actor, cos there’s not a lot of us. We complaining when we work, when we don’t work, so I’m happy. I got a Chase Bank commercial running right now, $ ch-ching! Residuals! Hahaha.
I got a pilot I’m doin’ for a film festival called ‘The Three Chris’’ which is just psychotic. It’s a really off centred show. It’s crazy, the movie and then the music, so I’m sayin working, I feel like I’ll sleep when I die.
Lady Jay UK: So how did you get into the acting?
Dennis: I always did it, when I was little I always did plays. During Black History Month, my parents be pimping me out. I always did theatre, and always played sport. So I did both things. It’s just something I was born to do.
Lady Jay UK: Out of all the things that you’re doing, is there anything that you can say that you love most.
Dennis: Going to the bank and cashing cheques. I love doin’ that.
Acting. It lets you expand on who you are.
Lady Jay UK: You have to let go of your ego I think to be a good actor, to get into certain roles. To challenge yourself.
Dennis: Well yea, because there’s the writers view of that character, then there’s the directors’ view, and then there’s your view. So you have to curtail what you want to appease both of those people. So it’s definitely losing your ego in an aspect of it, but the results are great.
Lady Jay UK: I know through your TV work you’ve interviewed quite a lot of artists, is there anyone who’s been really memorable?
Dennis: The Streets! Wassup! The Streets outta London, that’s my man right there. Yea we hung out. Got smashed, kicked it, you know what I mean. You guys are wild out there in London.
Lady Jay UK: No comment.
Dennis: You guys get down. I was down at Bar Rumba. Y’all can crunk out there. Couple fights broke out, I broke up fights; smashing bottles.
Lady Jay UK: Oh my God (ashamed).
Dennis: But the music was hot though, so it was worth it. That was great. Marilyn Manson was a very interesting interview. Dude needs a hug, he needs a hug.
50 Cent, it was nice interviewing him, we’re pretty much cool, so we had like that kind of relationship on that aspect. Busta Rhymes is just animated. The best was probably Magic Bishop Don Juan. He was just the best interview I had of my life because he speaks in rhyme!
Lady Jay UK: Everthing he says?
Dennis: Everything he says, so he’s just funny. Dead pan face and he’s serious about it. I’ve interviewed a lot of good people.
Lady Jay UK: What do you think sets you apart from other people then? Because you are very very successful, in a lot of different types of work. It’s unusual to be covering do much ground.
Dennis: I think that’s it, that I have the capability and the desire to let go of myself and do different things. Because when you’re in the entertainment field, you’re exposing yourself. Whether you’re doing music, acting, producing; you’re putting yourself out there for people to critique. Some people can’t take that. Some rappers when they go into acting they can’t really put themselves out there, but I have no barriers because I know that whatever I need to do I can do it.
And if I can’t do it, I just won’t do it. You’re not gonna see me playing no ballet dancer you know what I’m saying. You’ll never see me homo. You’ll never see me play no gay dude. Big up to all you gay people out there, you know what I’m saying. Keep hope alive, you know what I’m saying. It’s all good, but you just won’t see me on camera doin’ that. That’s just something that I won’t do. But, other than that, I’ll play a leper, whatever. I’ll play anything, but you know, except that.
Lady Jay UK: (takes a breath) OK. Anyhting else to add.
Dennis: I’m a be at the Chicken and Waffle spot, nah just playin’. Check out the movie, it comes out in Jan ’09, ‘Notorious’. Make sure you go see it, don’t get the bootleg, and right now you can go to stores and get ‘The Brave One’, check that out. It’s a crazy sick movie, if you ain’t seen it already. Go get three copies. For your mom, your baby’s mom, yourself. Just support Dennis Da Menace.We doin; it real big right here.