Curtis Jackson III, known to most as 50 Cent, grew up in Queens, N.Y., and became a millionaire rapper, author, entrepreneur and philanthropist. A drug dealer whose mother was murdered when he was 8, he got out when he was discovered by Jam Master Jay. He says he does not use drugs or drink alcohol. The 39-year-old is the father of two sons. He is executive producer of the Starz series “Power,” which airs Saturdays at 9 p.m.
You have said that not being in control of your destiny made you uncomfortable even as a child.
People say I’m impulsive on some levels. The majority of the projects I’m involved in, if I could start the development right as I have the idea, it completely makes me happy. It serves a gratification I can’t even describe. The whole concept of film and television is hurry up and wait — hurry up to become good enough, and then sit there and wait until someone believes in your idea enough for it to actually happen.
In your book “From Pieces to Weight,” you said that boxing taught you to control your emotions. Did that help you as an actor having that control?
When I was actually participating, they would group us by weight not by age, so I would be in sparring with someone who felt like they should beat me because I was 12. Following the instructions of the coach and doing what I was taught to do had a lot of them leaving with their ego bruised more than their actual body was. It is just the concept of the training and the discipline connected to it. It stopped me from feeling that it mattered that someone was older or bigger than you.
Making money to get things has been a big part of your motivation since you were young. Have you found the effort to get the things made you happier than what you could buy?
The process is what you fall in love with. A person who is ambitious, if they pay enough attention to themselves, they realize they are running into an endless tunnel. I don’t need a break. I exercise the whistle-while-you-work concept because I’m doing what I love. I need to stay active and stay involved. When I go on vacation, it’s just for a few days. It can’t be a long vacation because I’m missing something.
After you were shot, you said you didn’t die for a reason. God had a plan. Have you figured out what that reason might be?
I think to create a positive effect on people in a different way. The more success you have, the higher probability you start to focus on what your legacy is going to be. When you reach that point, you start to focus on philanthropy because people who help people resonate the strongest in their absence.
Are your grandparents proud of you? I know they worried about you growing up.
Yeah, my grandmother passed away from cancer. My grandfather, absolutely. I was probably the least likely to be [successful]. You have to imagine going into a household with nine [children]. I’m my grandparents’ first grandchild. I had kind of acted out a little bit. They saw I’d be a little trouble.
Chelsea Handler made a huge deal about dating you and it made me wonder if it is hard to trust that people like you for you.
I think women are conscious of stability. … I think when you know what you want for your life and what you would be content with, you should be making a decision and moving in the same direction as the person you are with, and that is how you develop the kind of friendships that last a lifetime. You brought up Chelsea Handler, Chelsea made what? $30 million the year that we was hanging out.
She didn’t need your money.
You worked really hard to get where you are. Do you worry your sons won’t have the same motivation?
They have a bigger positive influence because they have me in their life. I don’t think you have to be deprived of something to want to continue to have it in your life. You can enjoy it so much that you work to keep it.
It’s like a new artist. While they scream, “He’s hungry,” I scream “I’m disciplined.” I’m close enough to the street to know what’s going on, but I won’t be moved. I’m a fire hydrant. [laughing]
I think people love tragedy. The general public, they like to see someone go up and someone go down. When you are trying to have a career with longevity, you have to fight the system. So it’s a bigger challenge.