The smash-hit summer anthem by Cardi B, Bodak Yellow, is coming to your screen in a whole new way in the new hip hop anthology series Tales. Created by veteran music producer Irv Gotti, Tales takes famous hip hop songs and brings the worlds they describe to the screen. The latest episode, airing on July 30, is "Bodak Yellow," and stars social media phenomenon, singer, and actress Justine Skye.
Skye plays Violet, “an exotic dancer who never wanted to get into that industry but she had to in order to survive and support her little sister,” she tells Shadow And Act. Romeo Miller co-stars as Rider, a DJ and Violet’s potential love interest. Actress Rasheeda plays Ultra, a complicated mentor and rival. In the promotional clip, the episode's director Ellie Foumbi said, “It’s a story about sisterhood, about women coming together to help each other.”
Co-written by John Barcheski (Sons of Anarchy) and Robert Munic (Star, Empire), Tales: Bodak Yellow will show Violet going through an existential crisis when she realizes that her true passion is to become a rapper. “On the side, that’s what she focuses on until she finally gets the opportunity. She does a showcase and she goes in and crushes it,” said Skye.
Justine Skye in 'Tales.' (Photo: BET)
Asked if she believes her character has the same personality as Cardi B, Skye replied, “No, Violet’s more calm, much calmer. Cardi is very outspoken. I’m not saying that Violet isn’t but she’s not as funny as Cardi B. She’s more calm and serious.” Still, Skye believes audiences will find love for Violet as they have for Cardi. “I think what will resonate most with viewers is her ambition and her drive," said Skye.“She doesn’t let anything or anyone stop her from reaching her goals.”
Raised in New York City by her entertainment lawyer mom and corporate merchandiser dad, Skye (who is so well known for sporting purple-hued hair she is sometimes referred to as the "Purple Unicorn") is very different from her Bodak Yellow character. Still, Skye found some common ground to draw from in order to portray Violet. “I would say just the motivation part of it and the hunger. We honestly have completely different stories but the end goal is to be successful in this industry where it’s very hard for women and she works very hard for it. Whatever I could draw from my own personal experience in this industry I added to it.”
Skye knows all about ambition. Two years into her high school career, with her star rising, Skye made the decision to leave high school to maximize on her popularity and make the most of every opportunity that came her way. Though her mother immediately understood her decision, it wasn’t what her father had envisioned. “My Dad wanted me to go to college and get a volleyball scholarship. I have not one athletic bone in my body so I’m not quite sure how he thought that was gonna happen," she said.
Skye left high school midway through and was subsequently homeschooled while she launched her career. “I will say it was a luxury to both go to public school and be homeschooled. Obviously, I started my music career [while attending high school], but it became difficult for me to balance both of them so I’m really blessed that I had that option to be able to be homeschooled. That was amazing because I had both aspects of it. Public school shaped the person that I am today.”
Justine Skye in 'Tales.' (Photo: Annette Brown/BET)
For young people who want to follow their passion but are still in school, Skye cautions against leaving social environments completely behind. “It’s very important to not be ostracized from other kids,” she said. “You need social skills and to build your character and create who it is that you want to be in life. I would say that if you’re in high school but you’re already on your way out and you can be homeschooled, you should take that option.”
When asked whether or not she would be nervous about Cardi B's reaction to her portrayal in this episode, Skye said, “I’m not nervous as to what she’ll say. Cardi B is someone who supports women in general so if anything, I think she’d say something positive about it. It kind of shows her career, her journey, so hopefully I make her proud!”
Though "Bodak Yellow" was on nearly everybody's playlist two summers ago, Skye admits she fell in love with it gradually. “The song definitely grew on me,” she explained. “I like to live with music and let it tell its own story with me. Obviously, that was a huge hit and I heard it everywhere!” If she had to choose the lyrics which most struck a chord with her she said they would be those from the song’s fiery opening. “I guess,” she said, laughing, “it would be ‘You can’t f*ck with me if you wanted to.’”
In addition to her "Bodak Yellow" performance, Skye has also been on the shortlist of a critical mass of fans and critics who would love to see her be the next actress to portray Marvel Cinematic Universe's Storm. Delighted by the prospect she said, “I think that would be an honor! I’ve seen some threads on Twitter and I feel it’s an honor people would even consider me for that role! If I ever get the chance to audition for it, I’d definitely give it my all!”
Megastar Keanu Reeves has also identified Skye's potential as an actress. Reeves executive produced a soon-to-be-released film in which Skye has a major role and which her fans have been eagerly awaiting. “Yeah, actually I was just talking about it. There’s actually a new title, it’s no longer called Green Dolphin, it’s called Already Gone and it’s available for pre-order right now on iTunes and it’ll be in theaters in August."
Skye’s character in Already Gone has something in common with Violet as well. “My character’s name is Keisha and coincidentally, she’s also an exotic dancer. Basically, the story is following a young boy who’s living with his stepfather and his stepfather’s girlfriend, which is who I play. My boyfriend, played by Seann William Scott, tries to pimp me out and his son kind of rescues me.”
We'll have to wait until August to find out more, but Tales: Bodak Yellow will air on BET July 30th.
Photo: Getty Images