One of the breakout performers at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was Shameik Moore. He stars in Dope as Malcolm, a nerdy high school student navigating the rough neighborhood of Inglewood, California. A brief primer on Moore, 20, who was born and raised in Atlanta:
He got his start as a dancer.
“In middle school, I saw Chris Brown live, and I thought, I can do that. And these girls are screaming for him,” says Moore. After attending DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts and appearing in music videos, he landed roles on House of Payne and the sketch comedy show Incredible Crew.
And he sings, too.
Moore contributes to four songs—written and produced by Pharrell Williams—on the movie’s soundtrack, and he released an EP in May titled 30058 after his native Lithonia zip code. “For [Pharrell] to give me advice and mentor me, that’s a blessing.”
To prepare for the role, he boned up on . . . the 1990s.
Although Dope takes place in 2015, Malcolm is 1990s-obsessed and sports a high-top fade and stone-washed denim. “I’m too young, so I never saw Boyz n the Hood or Menace II Society,” says Moore. “As far as the actual style, the actual culture, I had to do some studying.”
He oozes confidence.
Moore compares his work to Apple products: “Everything from Apple you expect to be dope. All the innovators in the world, you look forward to whatever they have coming next. So get ready for it.”
On the Calendar: The inner-city coming-of-age story–and Sundance hit–opens in wide release on June 12.
This article originally appeared in our June 2015 issue.