Common: Rapper, Actor, Model, Etc.

PETA; AMC Networks Inc.; Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Weeks after landing on the New York Times best-seller list and less than a month before he airs on a new AMC television show, Common has placed his stamp on virtually all areas of entertainment. Not bad for a Chicago native who had to convince his mother to let him take a record deal.

Common the Author

Atria Books; Chris Weeks/Getty Images for Activision

One Day It'll All Make Sense, the memoir he released in September 2011, made the New York Times best-seller list and has received positive feedback from the likes of Maya Angelou. In the book, Common writes about his upbringing, music and his relationships with family and loved ones. It also includes letters and stories from his mother.

Common the Romantic Lead

Fox Searchlight Pictures

In his first lead film role, Common played a heartthrob NBA player opposite Queen Latifah in the romantic comedy Just Wright. The film got mixed reviews, but it wasn't bad for his first time carrying a movie.

Common the Rapper

Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The foundation of Common's multifaceted career has always been his rhymes. Granted "Unsigned Hype" status by the Source magazine back in 1991 and now a member Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music crew, the Chicago native writes songs about his upbringing, inner-city life, love and more, which have earned him Grammy Awards and inspired collaborations with heavyweights such as Lauryn Hill and will.i.am.

Common the Poet

Hip-hop is rhythm and poetry, and the rapper is sometimes known to perform his words without instrumentals. Unfortunately, when he was asked to recite his rhymes at a 2011 poetry event at a White House, a political storm broke out. Pointing to Common's support of former Black Panther Assata Shakur, who many believe was falsely accused of killing police officers, conservative media lambasted Barack Obama for extending the invitation (The Daily Show's Jon Stewart would later make fun of the critiques). Common ended up performing at the event without a hitch.

Common the Movie Villain

Universal Pictures

Besides Sean Hannity, most of us probably consider Common to be a nice, safe guy, but he occasionally shows his gritty Chicago roots in his film roles: He played an assassin in Wanted, sold drugs alongside Denzel Washington in American Gangster, got violent in Smokin' Aces and harassed Tina Fey and Steve Carell as a corrupt cop in Date Night.

Common the TV Star

AMC Networks Inc.

He got a taste of the small screen with a small part on Girlfriends, and he has his first starring TV role on AMC's Hell on Wheels, a Western premiering in November. Common plays a freed slave in the show, which revolves around the building of the first transcontinental railroad — much more complex than a cameo on Girlfriends!

Common the Activist

Peta

A champion for causes he's passionate about, Common, a vegan, has worked with PETA to promote animal rights and promotes HIV/AIDS awareness with the Knowing Is Beautiful movement. He also uses his music to help change the world: He has performed at events to fight violence in Chicago, he was the first to name-drop Barack Obama (in Jadakiss' "Why" remix) and he rhymes about topics such as abortion and corrupt law enforcement. He also heads his own Common Ground Foundation, which funds holistic leadership and education programs for youth.

Common the Model and Spokesman

Gap

His music and stylish, laid-back image have helped him earn gigs as a model and spokesman for several clothing and technology companies. He was the face of Microsoft's early Zune campaign and launched a clothing line with the company, and his music was featured in an ad for Blackberry. He also modeled Gap clothing in commercials and even had a fragrance endorsement deal with Diesel. Other products that Common has helped push include the Lincoln Navigator and New Era caps.

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