When it comes to faith, LL Cool J is the real deal. Of course, like most of his peers in the rap business, he sports a ton of bling – multiple carat diamond earrings, a tennis-bracelet style necklace, and a T-shirt adorned with rhinestones – along with his trademark hat.  But underneath the flash, this hip hopper has a serious heart for Jesus, and he isn’t afraid to let it show.

Raised on Long Island as James “Todd” Smith, Cool J survived a childhood filled with physical and emotional abuse. He fell in love with rap, adopted the stage name of LL Cool J (which means “Ladies Love Cool James”) at the age of fifteen and, just two years later, released his first album with the newly-created Def Jam Records, as their flagship artist. Alongside his many musical achievements, which include two Grammy awards and ten consecutive platinum albums, Cool J has also starred in the NBC sitcom, “In the House” (from 1995 to 1999) and more than two dozen films. His diverse range of credits include “S.W.A.T.,” with Colin Farell and Samuel Jackson; “Kingdom Come,” with Whoopi Goldberg; “Any Given Sunday,” with Al Pacino and the upcoming thriller “Edison,” starring Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey and Justin Timberlake.

In his latest movie, “Last Holiday,” directed by Wayne Wang (“Because of Winn-Dixie,” “Maid in Manhattan”), Cool J stars alongside Queen Latifah (“Beauty Shop”), who plays an unassuming New Orleans store clerk named Georgia Byrd. When Georgia learns that she has only weeks to live, she cashes in her life savings and goes off to spend her final days in luxury at a five-star, European resort. There, unaware that her diagnosis is a mistake, Georgia discovers what it means to live – and how to love. LL Cool J plays Georgia’s love interest, a man who is willing to do whatever it takes to spend Georgia’s final moments with her.

Together with several colleagues from the Christian media, I recently interviewed Cool J who, at the age of 38 is the married father of four children.  Much like the character he plays in “Last Holiday,” he was warm, honest and completely unafraid to talk about his faith. Here’s what he shared. ...


Q:  Gospel music and faith are a strong part of this film.  Can you talk about how you relate to that?

A:  Well, I’m a Christian. Faith is a huge part of what I do, on every level – and I mean from salvation to tithes and offerings, and on every level and every dynamic that you can think about. The film shows you that there are many types of blessing. Obviously, health is a major blessing. Abundance is another blessing and the type of abundance that she went after was not only material, but also an abundance of joy – happiness, freedom. Jesus said, ‘I came so that you would have life, and have it more abundantly,’ and she got to experience that.  And I think that’s beautiful.

On my end, the fact that [my character] was continually searching for love, the fact that he was loyal and the fact that he was willing to sacrifice and commit – those are all Christian principles. Obviously, Christ gave the ultimate sacrifice, but being willing to sacrifice your life, your job and everything you know and love to go around the world and follow someone is extremely important. Everybody here knows that true sacrifice, and your level of commitment always dictates what you get. If you’re not willing to sacrifice in the hot sun and sow those seeds and go out there in the field and really sacrifice your body and your time and your energy to plant those seeds, you’re not going to reap the type of harvest that you’d like to reap. But Sean did that, and Georgia did that. Georgia was willing to take that risk of crossing the bridge of fear, with faith, and it turned out well for her. She looked past materialism and she trusted…in the movie they don’t say ‘God,’ but she trusted God more than money. Instead of taking the riches and trying to find a cure, she took the riches and tried to live life and enjoy her last days. She was willing to detach and become detached from the money and anything worldly – and I think that’s a pretty powerful message.