At first glance, it may seem as though Lenny Kravitz has a lot in common with Roland Crane, his character on Lee Daniels’ new musical drama, Star, about an up-and-coming girl group.
Illustrious music career? Check. Designer wardrobe? Check? Young, talented daughter who’s eagerly following in his footsteps? Double check. But that’s where the similarities end, insists Kravitz.
We chatted with the 52-year-old musician-actor ahead of the January season premiere of Star to find out what it’s like playing the “bad guy,” advice he has for aspiring entertainers and more.
EBONY: Watching the first episode, I got the impression you were playing yourself. How much of your real life influenced this role?
Lenny Kravitz: Oh no, I’m not playing myself at all. I’m playing someone who does what I do as a musician. He’s a rock star, but Roland Crane is not me at all. He’s not the nicest of guys as you will come to see and that’s very opposite of my character. I’m a very open and loving person. My whole thing has been “let love rule” since my first album. I’m about unity and peace and God. Roland Crane is a hardcore person, as well as this talented musician and he’s very controlling.
EBONY: What are some of the similarities and differences between you and your character?
LK: I obviously have a daughter, but the character is so different. It’s not a way I ever have been with my daughter. He’s controlling, he’s manipulative, he calls her names and that’s not in my vocabulary, it’s not in my heart. There’s no way I could ever be — my daughter is my best friend in life. And I am the exact opposite with Zoe. I never pulled her in any certain direction. She does her thing and I stay out of it. I have nothing to do with it, I never did. She did everything on her own. So it’s interesting to be playing a father who’s on the other side because that’s not my world and not where I came from.
EBONY: Star touches on several real-life issues, such as rape, foster care and being transgender. Why do you think that’s important for people to see?
LK: Lee’s very open. He shows all of these things and he’s showing all of these sides today. And I think it’s great. This is a part of life. All of these characters are part of real life. Lee comes from a very interesting background, he’s seen a lot growing up. From the work he’s done, he will show you that dark side. There are things going on behind the curtains and things you’re not supposed to speak about, but he speaks about them.
EBONY: And this isn’t the first time you’ve worked together, so what was it like teaming up with him again?
LK: It’s great because I’m used to working with him and I know him so well, so it’s always great. It’s fun, it’s familiar. And I’m here to serve. When I make music, I play it, I produce it, I write it. It’s a very self-centered thing, not in a negative way. But I primarily work by myself, that’s my process. When I’m acting, I’m there to serve the director and the character. I’m here to give you what you need. Communicate that to me and I will do what I need to do to get that. So that’s what it’s about.
EBONY: So what can you tell us about the upcoming season of Star? There are rumors that a Star and Empire crossover is in the works.
LK: I don’t know, I can’t say too much. The story is definitely going to evolve in true Lee Daniels style. There’s a lot of drama and things going on. It’s a really good cast. We all get along very well and have lot of fun doing it. But I’ve only filmed thus far two episodes. From what Lee has been saying, he’s really going to evolve Roland’s character, and his ex-wife, who’s played by Naomi Campbell.
EBONY: The entertainment industry has certainly evolved since you started with the onslaught of reality shows and social media. What advice do you have for people trying to break into Hollywood?
LK: This world is so crazy. So many things are based on popularity versus talent. So there’s a lot of folks who are not so talented, but they’re popular and they have “x” amount of followers on social media. They talk a lot. My mother always said self-praise is no recommendation. You don’t talk about yourself. You do what you do and do the best you can and do it with integrity. So it’s very interesting the time we live in. Our music is always a reflection of where we are in a society. That’s what enables so many people to do what they do. So my advice is to work at your craft. Be the best you can be at your craft and do it sincerely. Even in the world we live in today, that will give you longevity. At the end of the day, I want the quality of my work to stand, not how much I did.
EBONY: What’s next for Lenny Kravitz, where else can fans find you in addition to Star?
LK: I have two albums being recorded right now, a couple of films that are in the beginning of getting together. There’s filming, a world tour and design work with Kravitz Design. I’m working with brands, hotels, and private homes. There’s a lot going on, but I love it. I love being creative and that’s what I love to do.
Star premieres Wednesday, January 4 on FOX.