chanté adams already landed her dream role

The Sundance-winning star of Roxanne Roxanne is going to need a major follow-up to top this impressive debut.

by Clementine de Pressigny
30 August 2017, 7:55am

This shoot originally appeared in i-D's The Acting Up Issue, no. 349, Fall 2017.

Just six weeks after graduating from acting school Chanté Adams landed the kind of role a seasoned actor could wait a lifetime for. She started doing the rounds at auditions, thinking maybe she'd land a commercial or a guest spot on a TV show. Instead she was cast as 80s rap prodigy Roxanne Shanté, in the film Roxanne Roxanne, co-produced by Pharrell and Forest Whitaker and co-starring Moonlight's Mahershala Ali. The film chronicles the heady ups and serious downs of the MC's life, from growing up in the projects in Queens to becoming part of hip-hop history.

Roxanne had an underground hit at just 14 years old, showcasing her vicious rhymes on Roxanne's Revenge, a rap battle reply in an ongoing war of words between NYC's U.T.F.O. and Mr Magic and Marley Marl. Between winning the role and the cameras rolling, Chanté only had eight days to prepare. Luckily she already had her rap skills down thanks to years of singing along to the radio while driving in her car, trying to match the pitch and tone of each song exactly — little did she know that would help her secure the lead in a feature film. Roxanne Roxanne has garnered serious industry attention since it premiered at the last Sundance Film Festival — where Chanté took home the Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Performance. Getting to tell the story of a complex cult figure was a big responsibility, and Chanté was conscious of doing justice to both Roxanne's skills but also the hardships she experienced.

"This isn't necessarily a hip-hop biopic, this is about the struggles of a young woman growing up with a mother who's an alcoholic, trying to care for her family and falling dependent on a guy who's much older than her, who brings her into a certain lifestyle and she ends up being abused. So many women can relate to this story of survival. It's about her as a woman, it's about her as a black woman."


Text Clem de Pressigny
Photography Daria Kobayashi Ritch
Styling Henna Koskinen. Hair Nikki Providence at Forward Artists using Bumble and bumble. Make-up Michelle Mungcal at Artists & Company using NARS Cosmetics.

Chante wears all clothing OFF-WHITE C/O VIRGIL ABLOH

daria kobayashi ritch
the acting up issue
chante adams