December 23, 2021 Interview – Shameik Moore & Damani Sease Talk Wu-Tang: An American Saga
When Wu-Tang Clan hit the Hip Hop scene in early ’90s their influence quickly spread like wildfire. An assemble of talent like never seen before in a Hip Hop group, each member had a unique quality to offer. Whether it be their persona or flow, two big parts of the Wu-Tang machine were Raekwon and U-God.
Now the two stars are brought to life in Hulu’s Wu-Tang: An American Saga by the talented Shameik Moore, as Raekwon, and Damani Sease, as U-God. Also two highly talented actors, they recently sat down to chat how Wu-Tang: An American Saga came about for them.
Cryptic Rock – You are both young, talented actors who are doing some great things on screen. Now a part of Wu-Tang: An American Saga, Shameik portraying Raekwon and Damani portraying U-God, how did the roles come about for you?
Damani Sease – With me, to be completely honest with you, I manifested this. I was doing research before they even casted U-God in the series. I was putting in work before.
Shameik Moore – For me it’s not much different, for this or any role. I started off as a dancer and I did battles and whatnot. I ended up catching the eyes of some casting directors in Atlanta; this was way before there was an industry in Atlanta by the way. Atlanta is now like another Hollywood, but at this time, you really had to hustle or move to L.A. Anyway, I ended up doing music videos which lead to opportunities for me to audition for commercials which lead to my first TV show opportunity with Tyler Perry. That lead to BET’s Reed Between The Lines, which lead to Cartoon Network’s Incredible Crew, then Dope (2015), The Get Down, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), etc. It was manifestation for sure, I wrote a lot of things down in my journey.
As far as Wu-Tang specifically, after The Get Down came out, RZA met with me. We had the same agent at the time and he met with me in Beverly Hills. I didn’t know anything about O.G. at the time. He had his glasses on and said to me, “What’s good God?” I asked him, “Why do you call people God?,” because I didn’t understand it at all. He told me, “Because you shine like one.” He moved onto the next part of our meeting and he caught my attention. At the time we were meeting about Cut Throat City (2020) and we knocked that out. A couple of months later he brought me to a perform of Wu-Tang and I met everyone in the group. I appreciated it, because that was my director, but not for why I would appreciate it now. Skipping forward, he called me and asked me who do you want to play? And here we are.
Cryptic Rock – It is interesting to see how you both really wanted to play these characters and it happened! You are both doing fantastic jobs and really bring these characters to life on screen. Anyone who is a fan of Wu-Tang Clan would know these personas, and you are nailing them on the head. What type of research did you do to get into these characters?
Damani Sease – A lot of YouTube research studying U-God’s mannerisms and reading his book, which is an amazing book. I also talked to him a couple of times too. I needed to talk to him and see how he spoke to give me a better perspective. That is really all I needed to do. Also, to be a little bit of myself as well. I didn’t want to try too hard to be him, because I’m not going to be exactly like him.
Shameik Moore – For me it was not much different either. I needed to meet Raekwon. When I first started filming season 1 I had met him. I felt like my idea of a New York character within my system was Shameik as Shaolin Fantastic from The Get Down. I was having an issue figuring out, who am I playing? You can see music videos, you can see interviews, but everybody puts on a persona…especially rappers. You want to know who is he for real, and let me play that.
Raekwon flew out to Toronto where I was shooting another movie. It was in his walk, how he greeted me, his talk, it was everything. When he didn’t speak he spoke a lot. When he told a story about or how he was eating food… it was all of that. Studying his actual mannerisms as a person was vital to my performance.
For more on Damani Sease: Instagram