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Q&A With Common

The musician/actor talks about his latest film, his health, being a dad, and his work with children.

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You’re about to start filming the third season of Hell on Wheels, the AMC post-Civil War drama about the construction of the first transcontinental railroad. How has playing the emancipated slave Elam affected you?

It definitely has led me to understand American history more, and the relationship between blacks and whites -- it wasn’t all "black and white." I’ve learned how significant the African people were to the struggle and the building of this country. I knew that, but when you start learning more details about what black people went through in the building of this country...honestly, along with the president being who he is, doing this show helps me to feel more American. Like, okay, I’m a part of this country!

You’re now 41. Does being in your 40s change anything about how you look at your life or your health?

I believe I started my health quest somewhere around 25 or 26, and it’s constant growing and learning more about diet and exercise and mental and emotional and spiritual health. I don’t think 40 really gave me a jolt or anything. I didn’t get more stiff or anything like that. In fact, I feel fresh and good! It’s a blessing to be here.

What’s your best health habit?

My best health habit, for me and my diet, is not eating pork and beef -- and exercising multiple times per week. When I had to train for the movie Just Wright, I was doing a lot of active sports-type of training, and I really enjoy that. Sometimes I do those football drills where you move your feet real quick. I like those, because they’re challenging. They keep me working on my speed and agility and explosion and things like that.

Besides keys, wallet, and phone, what’s the one thing you never leave home without?

Water. I always take water. I love water, I’m a water sign!

What disease or condition would you most like to see eradicated in your lifetime, and why?

Cancer, for sure. So many people die from cancer. I lost an aunt to cancer, and one of my friends’ moms just passed from pancreatic cancer. I’ve seen it do so much. I think probably anybody in America would want that disease to be eliminated.

Imagine that you’re president for the day -- and you get to have all the power of Congress, too. What three policies would you pass?

First, I’d pass something to put more money into our education system, especially in the lower economic areas, but also just education in general. I also would sign a bill that would expand health programs for kids. And then, I would stop any wars that I had the capability to stop.

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