KaMillion Is Ready For Rap Sh!t To Make Her A Household Name

The Grammy winner channeled her own experiences into playing Mia.

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KaMillion plays Mia in 'Rap Sh!t' via HBO Max's press site
Alicia Vera/HBO Max

To play aspiring rapper Mia Knight in HBO Max’s Rap Sh!t, KaMillion didn’t have to look far for inspiration. After all, the Jacksonville native had already lived through those rough-and-tumble days of breaking into the music industry. “I really just tapped into the struggles and the pain and all those tears and the times that I slept in my car and the times that I wanted to give up,” KaMillion tells Bustle. “A lot of people contemplate suicide and certain things because they can’t have certain successes in life, and I remember that. So when I read these scripts and I had to be angry or I had to be mad at my baby daddy, I went there and channeled that energy to become Mia.”

It certainly wasn’t for lack of big-name musicians in the Love & Hip Hop Miami alum’s contacts list though: KaMillion has written songs for and collaborated with artists such as Rihanna, Diddy, Usher, Jordin Sparks, Trey Songz, The Pussycat Dolls, and even won a Grammy in 2019 for her work on H.E.R.’s self-titled album, specifically on the track, “Rather Be.” But when she received series creator Issa Rae’s script, she felt like she was reading about her own life, excluding the fact that Mia is a single mother.

Initially, Rae was “concerned” about casting an established rap artist on the series, opposite comedian and writer Aida Osman, who plays Shawna, the estranged Miami high school friend Mia reconnects with to form a rap duo. After KaMillion read for the part, the Insecure alum was sold. “When KaMillion auditioned, she said, ‘I am Mia, Mia is me,’ and she didn’t lie,” Rae shares. “You couldn’t deny her talent; you couldn’t deny her authenticity. She was exactly who we were looking for and just continued to kill it audition after audition.”

Meanwhile, showrunner Syreeta Singleton explains that there is still a “clear difference between who KaMillion the rapper is and Mia the character,” specifically their distinct musical styles. Praising KaMillion’s authenticity, Singleton says she also brought a “different tone and different sound” to the music she makes onscreen with Shawna, including on their first onscreen hit, “Seduce and Scheme.” (For comparison, see KaMillion’s new “Rich Bitch Walk” music video.)

Jonica Booth, RJ Cyler, Syreeta Singleton, Issa Rae, Aida Osman, Sadé Clacken Joseph, and KaMillion at the Los Angeles series premiere of Rap Sh!t.FilmMagic/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Though KaMillion opened the 2019 BET Hip Hop Awards with Lil Duval, and her track “Twerk 4 Me” went viral on social media in 2020, she doesn't think she’s had her big breakout moment yet. But she adds that waiting for her breakout and being new to acting are working to her advantage and keeping her humble. “I still feel like I’m underground, like I haven’t had that opportunity to really blow up into the big, big household name that this show is going to catapult me to,” she says.

Though she didn’t necessarily channel any other female musicians in Rap Sh!t, she did find herself trying to emulate “GOAT” Taraji P. Henson’s star-making turn in the 2001 film Baby Boy in certain scenes. “So I approached it like KaMillion, but I studied the acting chops of Taraji,” she explains.

Now, KaMillion is ready for the “bad bitch renaissance” that she hopes Rap Sh!t will inspire.

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