ART IMITATES LIFE, AND LIFE IMITATES ART. At least that’s the case for 34-year-old rapper and actor T.I., born Clifford Joseph Harris Jr., who plays a sharp-tongued hustler with a heart of gold in Get Hard, a comedy hitting theaters March 27. Co-starring with a pair of hilarious blockbuster big dawgs, Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell, the entertainer isn’t opposed to working his way up the ranks in Hollywood; he sees it as just part of the process. “This is a whole new game for me, so it will take time,” he explains.

But T.I. is not just running lines with superstars all day. Add to the mix being a dad of six, a husband and holding down the crown as hip-hop’s King of the South.

To put it plainly, his schedule is not for the faint of heart. EBONY sat down with the patriarch of one of America’s favorite reality TV families and chopped it up over subjects including his controversial artist Iggy Azalea, his new business ventures and, of course, how he balances it all so flawlessly (spoiler alert: sleep deprivation).

Tell us about your role in Get Hard.
My character, Russell, is an ex-con and a member of the [fictitious] Crenshaw Kings gang who happens to be the cousin of Kevin’s character, Darnell. And Darnell enlists Russell’s help in preparing Will’s character, James, for his prison sentence. Now, to say I know a thing or two about being incarcerated is an understatement. But it’s a comedy, so it’s still lighthearted.

You’re consistently increasing your presence in film. Which terrain is more challenging to navigate, the movie or the music business?
Just like with music, in acting you have to train and get your skills up. I’m starting to make strides in it, and I think doors are really opening for me. I have Ant-Man coming out in July, which will be a huge Marvel Comics production, and I’ll also make an appearance in the movie adaptation of HBO’s Entourage this summer.

You’re also a TV star. Will T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle be returning to VH1?
Yes, but we had to get a particular cast member on board, so that delayed things. My [6-year-old] son Major had all kinds of demands, like more money, video game breaks and snack requirements. So once we got that squared away, we were good to go.

Read more in the current issue of EBONY Magazine!