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Method Man achieved stardom despite constantly hearing words of rejection: You don’t belong here



At the age of 50, Clifford “Method Man” Smith Jr. is proud to continue his successful career with his featured role in Power Book II: Ghost. He loves appearing in the series with co-star Mary J. Blige after winning a Grammy with her in 1996: Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for “I’ll Be There for You”/”You’re All I Need to Get By.”

The member of the iconic Wu-Tang Clan admits that growing up poor in New York City borough of Staten Island, it was not easy “getting by.”

“I was a Black boy living in some of the worst areas in New York,” Smith says in the cover issue of Essence‘s February digital issue. “I’ve been told that from the gate, ‘You don’t belong here.’ Sometimes even without words.”

Since then, Smith has proven that he belongs as an actor, as well as a rapper.

Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of Wu-Tung’s 1993 triple-platinum debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Beyond his group accomplishments, Method Man has forged his own identity with five solo albums, plus three collabo projects with Redman. He made the transition to acting in 1996, and his film credits include Belly, Brown Sugar, Red Tails, and 2019’s Shaft.

He tells Essence that he remembers it being difficult to convince casting directors he was ready for film and TV.

“I guess my background turned some people off. Some people aren’t willing to give you a chance, especially when you’ve already had one and you kind of squandered it,” Smith notes. “There was a changing of the guard in hip-hop. I was cool with that. I had to evolve with the business and if that meant acting, so be it.”

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