When Nicki Minaj was cast in “The Other Woman,” she had never been in a movie before. But the hip-hop artist was no stranger to playing make-believe.
The 31-year-old -- born Onika Tanya Maraj -- has long had a penchant for the dramatic, performing in colorful wigs and assuming multiple personalities on her albums. Many fans may be most familiar with her oft-used alter ego “Roman Zolanski,” a blond, gay male from London who is usually angry.
Minaj’s character in “The Other Woman” isn’t quite that eccentric. The film follows a trio of women (Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton) plotting revenge on a man who has cheated on all three of them. Minaj plays Diaz’s secretary, a well-dressed officemate with plenty of unsolicited relationship advice to offer.
The musician was serving as a judge on “American Idol” when she caught the eye of director Nick Cassavetes, who called her in for an audition.
“I wanted to do a movie, but I wasn’t actively pursuing a role,” Minaj recalled in a telephone interview this week. “This came out of nowhere. I didn’t even have an hour for myself, and I didn’t know if I was gonna be able to do it.”
Though the small role required Minaj to be on the film’s New York set for only a week, she said she was barely able to fit it into her schedule. In the 24 hours before she arrived in the Big Apple, she finished taping her last episode of “Idol,” performed on the Billboard Music Awards and then took a red-eye from L.A. to New York.
Minaj has filmed numerous music videos, but she said she was instantly struck by how different the environment was on a feature film.
“On a video,” she said, “I have all the control over what’s happening. I know in advance how it’s gonna go. But on a movie, they’ll tell you you’re shooting at noon and you might not start until 5 p.m. It’s a lot of waiting.”
She said that, in contrast to her approach in the studio, she took a more low-key tone making this movie. “I’m super-duper humble on set because I realize that I’m not a professional yet,” she said.
Se said that to familiarize herself with the filmmaking process, she exchanged text messages with Cassavetes -- developing her character’s arc and debating whether she should wear a wig. And she received encouragement from Diaz, who Minaj said told her that the singer made the role more likable onscreen than it was in the script.
She’s currently at work finishing her third album, “The PinkPrint,” but Minaj said she’s also been taking meetings with filmmakers in the hope of following in the somewhat well-marked path of other hip-hop artists who've turned to acting.
“The movie thing -- I definitely want to work at it more,” she said. “I want to work on a character for my next role and take time out of my schedule to work on it -- like sit there for a month and create someone. So yes, I want to do movies again. But am I gonna go tomorrow and start shooting? Probably not.”
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