Flap Has No Effect on Common, Rapper Turned Actor

Being the center of a manufactured controversy over an appearance at the White House may have made the name of rapper Common more recognizable among whole new audiences.

But on hand at the TV Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills Thursday to talk about his role in a new AMC series, “Hell on Wheels,” Common said going to the White House in May for a session on poetry “was an incredible experience. Just to be there and share some of my poetry it was really something.”

As for the controversy that Fox News whipped up (and never caught traction) based on a misinterpretation and poor re-reading of some past hip-hop recording, the flap had little impact on the event, the rest of the world or certainly the filming of the 10-episode “Hell on Wheels,” a depiction of the building of transcontinental railroad just after the Civil War.

Common said he didn’t expect any whipping up of reaction, pro-or-con, to the series that begins in November, as a result of that kerfuffle.

Common’s role in the series, as a freed slave still butting against lingering racism of the period, he said he had fun learning to ride a horse and striving “to be truthful to what black Americans were at the time.”

“Hell on Wheels” starts on AMC Nov. 6.

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