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BLACK AND WHITE

Behind The Scenes
Brooke Shields in dreadlocks, Marla Maples as a mom with a rebellious hip-hop daughter, Mike Tyson as the mentor to an up-and-coming rapper, Ben Stiller as New York's most bitter undercover detective and Claudia Schiffer as a grad student majoring in anthropology -- welcome to the world of James Toback's "Black and White."

Shot entirely on the streets of New York, James Toback's latest film is unusual in many ways. Actors cast against type, raw dialogue exchanges that sometimes result in genuine tension, rappers making their acting debut, Mike Tyson playing himself on screen, and the hottest club in New York serving as the location where all these worlds - uptown and downtown, gay and straight, wealthy and wanting, black and white - collide.

"We're like a great vegetable soup," says Power, who plays Rich Bower, of the film's diverse ensemble cast. "We got some of everything."

"I think there's a little of Rich in everyone," says Power. "Anyone who's ever tried to make a change in their life, tried to forget the past. We can all relate to that."

For Power, his second film role (his debut was "Belly") hit close to home. Like Rich Bower, he had experienced a major change in his life, a moment when he realized it was up to him to direct the course of his own future.

"For me, it's like the slogan of the Army," says the hip hop manager and entrepreneur. "Be all you can be. You can make a change, or you can get stuck in your circumstances. It's all inside you and it's up to you." Creating the rap supergroup Wu-Tang Clan in 1991 was only the beginning. Power has gone on to produce several albums sprung from Wu-Tang (including Raekwon's two solo efforts) as well as creating the popular clothing line, Wu Wear. A feature film career is his next goal.

Born and raised in the Parkhill Projects in Staten Island, New York, Power grew up without much in the way of material extras. "Money was tight , my Mom was working two jobs. We couldn't have the right kind of sneakers," he remembers. "And for my little brothers it wasn't too bad, wearing Zips. But for me, as the oldest, you know I just had to have the Nikes or whatever was dope at the time. I could not be going out with no Zips."

Power credits his strong family ties for keeping him grounded, particularly his grandmother. "I could talk to my grandmother about anything. I spent a lot of time with her when my Mom was working all those years," he says. So when was the change for him? "As I got older I realized I didn't want to be jolly-joking around any more, I wanted to do something with my life. Before Wu-Tang I never had to be responsible for anyone but myself. I became responsible for the Clan."

But he still frequents the old neighborhood when his hectic schedule allows. Does he have many friends from the old days? "All the friends I kept, I brought with me," he laughs. "Last night I went to see my friend Meth (Method Man) at the House of Blues. Now that was cool."

"Black and White" explores a world where white children of New York's privileged Upper East Side not only enjoy hip-hop music and culture, they literally transform themselves into their black heroes uptown. To their parents. dismay, they change the way they talk, the way they walk, the way they dress, and where they go after school.

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