theGrio’s 100: RZA, Wu-Tang Clan member hones directing and acting chops

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Actor/director Rza

Actor/director Rza arrives at a special screening of Universal Pictures' 'The Man With The Iron Fists' at the Chinese 6 Theatres on October 25, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Who is RZA?

A member of the storied hip-hop group the Wu-Tang Clan, RZA is a Grammy Award-winning rapper and producer. Also a successful author, he has held the urban world’s imagination as a creative force since bursting onto the scene in the early ‘90s. Having taken on the musical persona of Bobby Digital for part of his performing career, could it come as any surprise that the multi-talented artist chose to branch into even more diverse creative roles?

Why is he on theGrio’s 100?

Fast forward to 2012. RZA has now made not only his directorial debut but also flexed his chops as the screenwriter and star of the kung-fu flick Man With The Iron Fists. Featuring an all-star cast that includes Lucy Liu and Russell Crowe, RZA plays a former slave named Blacksmith in the movie who makes the ultimate in deadly weapons. And of course, he shows audiences that he knows what to do with them. Man With The Iron Fists has been applauded as a fitting homage to the martial arts films that inspired RZA as a young man, as he used such movies to develop his Wu-Tang Clan aesthetic.

Man With The Iron Fists is a crowning achievement for RZA as much as it is a paean to action films — especially for someone who has experimented in so many fields. The execution of a complex action movie shot on location in China is a feat not many hip-hop artists could achieve, with the end result being hailed as fun and entertaining for hard-core kung-fu flick enthusiasts.

What’s next for RZA?

Speaking of violent action flicks that recall the past, RZA has a song on the Django Unchained soundtrack, which is likely to be a chart-topper following in the footsteps of the blockbuster slavery epic.

Follow Rza on Twitter at @RZA