America's Got Talent cast (l-r) Heidi Klum, Nick Cannon,
Simon Cowell, Mel B and Howie Mandel
By Darlene Donloe
America’s Got Talent (AGT) is set to return this summer at on NBC. This time around the panel will look slightly different. Returning to the judges table are Howie Mandel, Mel B and Heidi Klum. The mainstays are joined at the table this season by, none other than, Simon Cowell, the show’s co-creator and executive producer. Returning with his big smile and quick wit is the show’s host, Nick Cannon. Cannon, 35, who got his big break on Nickelodeon’s All That, has tested the waters in almost every facet of entertainment. The San Diego native, who was once married to Mariah Carey, has done stand up, been a recording artist, acted, hosted television and radio programs, plus written, direction and produced many entertainment project.
His movie credits include Drumline, Men in Black II, Shall We Dance (2004), Roll Bounce (2005) and Bobby (2006) He recently starred in Spike Lee’s 2015 Chi-Raq. His role in Bobby not only earned Cannon a nod from the Screen Actors Guild in 2007, and he was the first African American to be honored with the Breakthrough Actor of the Year Award at the Cannes Film Festival.
Some of his projects include: Nickelodeon's The Nick Cannon Show, MTV's improv series, Nick Cannon Presents Wild 'N Out. He became the host of America's Got Talent in 2009. The new season of AGT kicks off May 31, 2016 on NBC.
I recently caught up with Cannon, during the NBCUniversal Summer press day and spoke to him about what’s going on in his life.
Q: The show really seems to be on the move.
NC: It’s interesting because now Simon is here. He’s a real star maker. The level of talent has been raised. He’s literally looking for the next superstar. You don’t know if he’s going to put another boy band together or someone like Susan Boyle. He’s really going for it. I think that’s what the show has always needed is that boost of pop culture.
Q: As you know, Simon has had some success.
NC: He really knows what he’s doing and really knows who has a voice. I’ve respected that over the years. When he says you have talent or you have a voice, he’s telling the truth.
Q: You have some new music coming out, right?
NC: It’s not new. It’s music I recorded while filming the movie, Chi-Raq. It’s just music that has always been on my sound cloud. Between that and my spoken word something is always coming up.
Q: Ok, we have to talk about the song by Mariah (Carey) that everyone swears is about you.
NC: Have you listened to it? That song is clearly not about me. It’s from the movie. That’s why I’m so disappointed in the media for not doing the research. Listen to it. Me and Mariah are actually laughing about it. If you listen to the words, I’m talking from a guy who is in a relationship where the two people are really broke (he cuts a look). That’s what the song is about. It’s about a guy who didn’t have anything and a girl who don’t have anything. I think people just heard certain phrases. I was like, it’s been over two years. Her and I are so cool. I’m proud of her new relationship and I’m happy for her. We talk everyday. I know people want there to be drama – it’s never really been. I’m hoping soon people will get off of it. As long as it never really affects my relationship or my real family – then that’s what it’s all about.
Q: What is the key to having such a successful co-parenting relationship?
NC: It’s just being friends and respecting the kids. It’s about their well-being.
Q: This show is a great platform.
NC: America’s Got Talent is where I discovered Kehlani. She was in a group called PoPLyfe. The group was on a couple of years ago and made it to the top five. I think she’s going to be a huge talent. She’s getting it together.
Q: Is there a difference between rich Nick and poor Nick?
NC: There is no difference. Either way, I still have candy and shoes in my house. Those are the two things I love more than anything.
Q: What was your splurge when you first got money?
NC: I bought my mom a house. I bought my grandmother a house. We filmed it. It’s been on television. For me, I was driving around in a beat up old something when I was doing standup. When I was 18, I drove up to Nickelodeon in a Range Rover. In those days they were like, “who did you rob?” That was the first thing I bought myself as a teenager.
Q: Diversity. Are you encouraged or discouraged about your industry right now?
NC: I’m encouraged. I feel like I’m one of those people who is a content provider. I can provide opportunities for the diverse communities and diverse artists. I take that as my mission and my duty to allow as many voices to be heard as possible. I have an unorthodox voice. There are many things I stand for that the typical Hollywood person wouldn’t stand for. I want to continue to push the envelope and give people the opportunity to say things. That’s what this show is all about. Give people an opportunity.