At Home in L.A. and True to Himself, Ice Cube Reflects


The award-winning sports and entertainment powerhouse is UCLA Anderson’s 2020 Game Changer
Ice Cube (left) in conversation with Jeff Moorad (B.A. ’78)

Growing up in South Central Los Angeles, rapper Ice Cube never thought his name would resonate outside his neighborhood.

“We thought we were gonna be locals forever,” he says, speaking for himself and fellow members of the hip-hop group N.W.A., whose unvarnished music about street life in L.A. shocked the world with its graphic honesty. “We thought professionals came from New York. But we were true to ourselves and the world recognized that.”

Jay Tucker, Executive Director of MEMES, with Ice Cube, recipient of the 2020 UCLA Anderson Game Changer Award

Jay Tucker (’09), executive director of the Center for MEMES, with musician, writer, director and producer Ice Cube, co-founder and CEO of BIG3

Ice Cube, now globally famous as an award-winning musician, actor, producer, director and co-founder and CEO of the BIG3 professional 3-on-3 basketball league, recently received another recognition: the 2020 Game Changer Award, presented by UCLA Anderson’s Center for Management of Enterprise in Media, Entertainment & Sports (MEMES) for influential business leadership. He joins past winners that include producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Quibi founder and co-founder of Dreamworks Jeffrey Katzenberg and Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten. The award was presented by MEMES executive director Jay Tucker (’09), who calls Ice Cube “the living embodiment of innovation.”

After being presented the award in front of a standing-room-only audience, the 2020 Game Changer chatted with UCLA Anderson adjunct professor and MEMES board member Jeff Moorad (B.A. ’78), who chairs Morgan Lewis’ global sports industry initiative.

Highlights of their conversation:

  • On leadership
    “As long as you are fair and direct in discipline and criticism, people will respect you.”
  • On staying true to his roots
    “I try to be a good example … You can grow but you don’t want to forget what you know. Where I come from helps me in business. It helps me get ahead and I appreciate it.”
  • On his creative philosophy
    “‘Status quo’ is a bad word. You gotta be a game changer. You can’t leave it like it is.”
  • On the music business
    “Music is fun until money gets involved in it, until somebody gets a check ... There are a lot of salmon swimming upstream as artists, and a lot of grizzly bears standing there, ready to eat you.”
  • On getting started in acting
    “I was discovered by John Singleton, rest in peace … He saw something in me that I didn’t see myself … I thought you had to go to Juilliard.”
  • On his hometown
    “I love L.A. I’ve been all over the world and there’s no place I’d rather be.”

Read more about UCLA Anderson’s 2020 Pulse Conference in the Daily Bruin

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