Ernest-Dickerson

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“Brothers and sisters, I am here to tell you that I charge the white man. I charge the white man with being the greatest murderer on earth. I charge the white man with being the greatest kidnapper on earth. There is no place in this world that this man can go and say he created peace and harmony. Everywhere he’s gone, he’s created havoc. Everywhere he’s gone, he’s created destruction.”

Malcolm X (1992, Spike Lee)

cinematography by Ernest R. Dickerson

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Ernest Dickerson directed the film Juice, the gripping urban drama that launched Tupac Shakur’s movie career. Dickerson shared his memories and impressions with Vibe a week after Tupac’s death.

Tupac was a brilliant artist. The people who are saying negative things about him and gangsta rap are obviously people who didn’t know him. But I knew him as an extremely sensitive, gentle soul who was very nurturing. I was impressed with his sensibility. His mind was constantly working, always putting that nervous energy into his work. Once he had gotten into character, he started working right away on his new album. He would sit in the corner and write.

He didn’t even audition for the role of Bishop, he just came in and blew everyone away. He was hanging out with Treach (of Naughty By Nature; another actor in Juice) on the set, and we asked him what he was doing, and he said “Nothin’.” We said, why don’t you read for the part, and he said, “OK, sure.” and then he got up there and blew everyone else out of the water.

I feel proud that we helped him get his start. I was praying for him when he got shot, and when I found out he had died I was devastated. He really liked people, and he liked to be liked by people. Perhaps his biggest fault was that he wanted to like people too much. He was very open and he never dismissed people, so he was a target for opportunists. He had enormous talent, and unfortunately, I feel his best work was still ahead of him. The saddest part about this is that no one will ever know what he might have become.

—    Vibe Magazine, Tupac Shakur

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Writer/Director Ernest Dickerson recounts the story of how Tupac Shakur was cast as one of the leads in Juice.