Hundreds of people packed a conference room at UCLA on Friday to see Los Angeles icon Ice Cube receive an award for changing the game in entertainment and sports.
UCLA awarded O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson – musician, actor, producer, director and CEO – the Game Changer Award at an annual conference hosted by the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
Ice Cube’s most notable tracks as a musical artist include “You Know How We Do It,” “No Vaseline” and “I Rep That West,” among other songs.
The Pulse Conference, organized by the School of Management’s Center for Management of Enterprise in Media, Entertainment & Sports, or MEMES, honors notable individuals in these fields with the Game Changer Award. It also draws leaders from these industries to discuss their respective trades.
The event usually brings in about 500 people every year, according to the School of Management’s website.
This year, the award was presented by Jay Tucker, executive director of MEMES.
“(Ice) Cube has changed the game because he saw possibilities that others didn’t,” Tucker said. “He changed the game because he made the world see him and his community.”
Ice Cube sat down after he received the award for a conversation with Jeff Moorad, a board member of MEMES and adjunct professor at the management school, to discuss his roots in South Central Los Angeles and his extensive career.
Ice Cube said in the early years of his career with hip-hop collective N.W.A, they thought they were going to be local artists for Southern Los Angeles. They believed major-league rappers were only from New York, he said.
“I know they don’t like me in New York, but … they’ll like me in the neighborhood,” Ice Cube said.
Although the group focused on its home base, its music reached people outside of California’s borders.
“We just started to take off,” Ice Cube said. “We were true to ourselves, so the world recognized.”
Ice Cube also discussed his start in the movie industry, acting in Oscar-nominated film “Boyz n the Hood.”
After shooting “Boyz n the Hood,” Ice Cube started writing, directing and producing films such as “Friday,” “Ride Along” and “Straight Outta Compton.”
He said one of his favorite movies to produce was the 2005 film “Are We There Yet?” The family movie with a mostly all-black cast let him give back to his community, Ice Cube said.
“Black kids don’t get movies like that,” he said. “So I was happy to do that.”
Ice Cube also said he was happy to have a career doing voice-overs for entertainment and sports. He has voiced over sports documentaries, cartoons, video games and more. Some of his most well-known voiceovers include his contributions to the video game “Call of Duty: Black Ops” and the film “The Book of Life.”
“It’s cool to be around long enough to have a recognizable voice,” Ice Cube said. “And, you know, I’m not mad about it at all.”
Ice Cube also discussed BIG3 and FIREBALL3. FIREBALL3 is the official title for a style of 3-on-3 basketball. Ice Cube co-founded both the sport and BIG3, its professional league.
Ice Cube closed the talk by saying he wishes he could set an example for people from all communities to overcome the status quo.
Several attendees of the conference said they think the Game Changer Award was well-deserved for Ice Cube.
Blake Miller, a Southern California native and UCLA graduate student, said Ice Cube has always been an icon. He added that he thinks Ice Cube deserved the award because of the constant reinvention of his career throughout his life.
“Not only is he changing the games he’s involved in, but he’s changing the game for what it means to be a businessman from LA,” Miller said.
Attendee Ronna Williams said Ice Cube represents LA well and inspires the black community.
“(He) takes LA wherever he goes,” Williams said. “I got very emotional because he gives our culture hope – our young men growing up, he gives them hope because he came from the ‘hood.’”