Actor Jermaine Hopkins has been going through it recently. He was arrested and tried for allegedly arranging to buy 200 pounds of weed in Arizona late last year.
After a lengthy hiatus from Hollywood he was instantly thrust back into the spotlight, only this time it had nothing to do with the acting talent he displayed in films like Lean On Me and Juice. After hearing the circumstances surrounding his arrest, the jury in the court of public opinion had crucified him. Critics dismissed his plight, saying that he deserved to be arrested for trying to buy that much weed.
Things took a curious turn when Hopkins struck a deal with prosecution where he plead guilty to possessing marijuana for sale in exchange for the prosecution dropping the illegal control of enterprise charge. So a man who was only going to face five years to begin with walked away serving thirty days behind bars. Hopkins light sentence had speculators yelling one thing, “SNITCH!”
The scarlet letter of being labeled a snitch is no good in any circle, so Jermaine Hopkins reached out to The Urban Daily for his first interview since putting his legal woes behind him to set the record straight.
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Jermaine spoke to us about his career in entertainment, how he’s moving on with his life after the legal battle, and how he walked away with a light sentence. Jermaine promises to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help him God.
TUD: What was it like being a part of iconic black films like Juice and Lean On Me?
JH: It was a helluva experience. I felt very special getting to work with Morgan Freeman on my first acting role. It was a golden time for me. I got a chance to work with greats like Beverly Todd, Samuel L. Jackson, and the late great Tupac Shakur.
What did you do after you had roles in those movies?
After I did Juice, I went on to do Strapped, which was Forest Whitaker’s first film as a director. I did another movie with Tupac called Bullet. I also did danced around with television. I was in the last show Redd Foxx did before he passed and I had a role on Moesha with Brandy. I worked with the Wayans brothers for six seasons as a recurring character on The Wayans Brothers, among other things. My work in later years was a lot more scattered than in the beginning, but I’m sure if you check my resume, you’ll see I’ve been pretty busy.
Now that we know where you’ve been, can you tell me how you got into all of that legal trouble?
I got into all of those legal issues by putting my trust into the wrong people.
According to reports, you were trying to buy a large amount of weed. How much of those reports were true?
I can tell you as far as my situation goes, everything you heard on the blogs was pretty much true. The story definitely got a little twisted once it got out. Police say I was trying to buy 200 pounds of weed and that led them to a house I owned out there. They found a hundred thousand dollars somewhere in there. What led to that was someone I considered a friend got busted by the police and started working with the police. I never directly spoke to the undercover cops. I only dealt with the person I considered a friend.
You were facing five years in prison and you got off with thirty days in jail, but got to go home when you were sentenced because of time served. How the hell did you get off like that?
I got a great lawyer out in Arizona who had over twenty years experience dealing with Arizona’s judicial system. You have to remember Arizona borders Mexico. So to the rest of the country 200 pounds sounds like a lot, but in Arizona, they’re used to dealing with more than that. Plus, the police involved in, my case wanted to protect their informant more so than put me in jail. I was blessed in so many different ways in that situation. If it were another state, I would’ve had automatic jail time.
So what do you have going on now?
I’m in a new movie called Zoo with Treach. It’s an ensemble cast. I also started a film company called Jermaine Hopkins Entertainment. We have quite a few films lined up to shoot. We’re working on a reality show called Here Come The Hopkins. You will get a glimpse into the life of Jermaine Hopkins, the Hollywood man and an it introduces the home life I have with my family.
Were you hesitant with putting your family on camera? Rev Run did it and his son got busted for weed and some other unsavory things.
Man, if anyone of my kids gets into some trouble, it’s going to be front page news. That’s with or without the cameras on them. The cameras allow us to tell our stories. I don’t worry too much about the cameras because anything can happen with or without the cameras there.
How did you explain what happened to you when you were arrested to your children?
My children are 9, 15, and 22. My youngest hasn’t really been exposed to that. As for my 15 year-old and 22 year-old, they are both boys and I felt it was only right I kept it one hundred with them. I told them about my legal situation and prefaced it by saying, “I want you to use my situation and mistakes as a learning experience.” They saw it as what happened to their daddy could’ve happened to anybody.
Jermaine’s publicist steps in to drive home the point of him being a great family man. She adds, “The reality show is going to show Jermaine in a different light. He’s an excellent husband and father. I’ve spent a lot of time with him and his family. He is an excellent husband and father. He actually has a very suburban and wholesome family life. People don’t know that about him because they only see him in those thug roles.”
Being that youre mostly known for roles in the nineties, do you think people are still interested in what you have to say?
That is a great question. There are people who still care about what I have to say and what I have to offer. My fans will stop me on the street and tell me they miss seeing me onscreen. They tell me they will support anything I do and they got me. The love and support I get from fans is what keeps me going. It got me through other hard times as well. That’s why I formed a company to have a little more control over what I present to my fans and to cut down time between my projects.
Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
In the next few years, I see myself being recognized as a great filmmaker. I expect to have my movie studio up and running. I plan on being at a level where my company can give a start to other actors and filmmakers careers.