Janet Jackson wants to make it back to the Oscars, and she’s hoping Tyler Perry can help her get there.
Crazier things have happened, right?
The likeliest vehicle to get Jackson a seat at the Kodak Theater isn’t Perry’s “For Colored Girls,” in which Jackson is part of an ensemble cast of African-American actresses, though. Rather, it’s a less-heralded Perry movie, “Why Did I Get Married Too?” for which Jackson and Jermaine Dupri have written a song called “Nothing.”
“I’m not going to lie, it would be a dream,” Jackson told theWrap about the possibility of a nomination. “But I can’t let myself go there and focus on things like that. If you do that, you’re just building yourself up for a major letdown.”
If the Academy’s famously unpredictable music branch recognizes the sparse ballad with a nomination, it’ll be second Oscar nomination for Jackson, who also got a nod for the song “Again,” from “Poetic Justice,” in 1994.
Here’s the official video for “Nothing”:
When it comes to the song’s Oscar chances, the movie itself is hardly Oscar-bait – but 14 of the Best Song nominations over the past decade have come from films with no other nominations.
The last time Jackson was nominated, voters in the category were famously drawn to celebrity. When she was in the running for “Again,” from “Poetic Justice,” her fellow nominees included Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Dolly Parton.
Now the process is trickier – voters score all the eligible songs after watching clips of the scenes in which they appear – and the results less predictable.
But it can’t hurt that Jackson and Dupri wrote the song drawing specifically on lines and characters from the film, in which Jackson also appears.
“We basically took things from the characters and put them into the song,” she said. “The movie is about four couples, and we gave half a verse to each couple and even used some of the things they talk about in the movie.
“Basically,” she added, “it’s about cherishing every moment like it’s the last moment.”
The song was her second attempt at writing a theme: she said that the first version, which she and Dupri recorded and mixed before deciding that they could do better, wasn’t as sparse and had a different melody.
“This one felt right for the film as soon as we recorded it,” she said. “We wanted something that was sparse and slow, but something that kept a steady rhythm, a steady beat.”
In Jackson’s other new collaboration with Perry, “For Colored Girls,” she working entirely as an actress. Too young to have seen the groundbreaking play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf,” she took in the work for the first time when she was in Atlanta with Perry after working on “Why Did We Get Married Too?”
“I really liked it,” she said, “and afterwards he told me that he’d been asked to direct it, and he’d like me to play one of the characters. I said, ‘Oh, is that why you brought me here tonight?’
“And he said, ‘Why else do you think I’d bring you? You didn’t think this was a date, did you?’”
If Jackson was drawn to the idea of interacting with a large cast that also includes Thandie Newton, Whoopi Goldberg, Kimberly Elise and Loretta Devine, that’s not exactly how “For Colored Girls” worked out for her.
She plays a rich, driven magazine editor – think of a younger urban version of Meryl Streep’s character in “The Devil Wears Prada,” just as imperious – and figured that meant she should keep her distance from the other cast members, all of whose characters live in the neighborhood her character worked so hard to escape.
“She’s a tough cookie, and very nasty,” said Jackson. “And I figured that I should try to stay in character, so I kept my distance from the rest of the cast.
“I could hear the other girls talking and having a good time between takes, and I so badly wanted to be a part of that. But it was better for my character that I wasn’t.”