Lonnie Rashid Lynn
A critically lauded, underground hip-hop artist who eventually found mainstream success with his artistically daring and politically conscious music, Common eventually parlayed his profile into acting. Common began his career as a cult figure in alternative hip-hop in the early 1990s, at a time when commercial rap was dominated by warring gangstas from both coasts. With his literary lyrics focused more on love and spirituality than drugs and guns, Common built a following among music critics and hip-hop fans alienated by the negative direction of gangsta rap. He earned some backlash for doing so, but eventually triumphed in the late 1990s amidst a growing revival of old school hip-hop. Following a number of best-selling, Grammy-winning albums, he began an acting career. Unlike Common's musical content, which was socially outspoken and positive, his early supporting film roles found him playing just the type of street thugs his music had railed against. As he began to find his footing in action and comedy features, Common proved that his magnetism and persona as a stage performer translated quite well to characters ranging from his starring role in Western railroad drama "Hell On Wheels" (AMC 2011-16) to comedy "Barbershop: The Next Cut" (2016) to supervillain blockbuster "Suicide Squad" (2016). He maintained his musical credibility as well, winning Best Original Song at the 2015 Academy Awards for "Glory," his collaboration with John Legend for the film "Selma" (2014) and being nominated for the same award three years later for "Stand Up for Something," a collaboration with Diane Warren, for the film "Marshall" (2017).