What was it about Smith that made you connect with her so deeply?
She was fearless and flawed in a lot of ways. She was perfectly imperfect, and I can relate to that. It reminded me of the ups and downs of my life in this business and my journey. It was the first time I ever watched a movie with me in it and cried.
What do you think about all the black actresses — Viola Davis, Mo’Nique, Taraji P. Henson — getting Emmy nominations this year?
I’m proud to be a part of this class of 2015. This was long overdue. We have a lot of talent out there, and often it’s not recognized by major awards shows like this. But I still think we have a long way to go.
It has been six years since your last album. Any plans for new music?
I have probably four albums ready to go. I’d like to have something ready by December. I’m going back and forth between jazz and hip-hop and house.
How would you rate your own rap skills now?
I’m always capable of throwing rhymes on a record. I can’t say that I’m writing rhymes in the back of the bus like I used to, but I’ll always be a hip-hop head.