Ludacris On Karma's World Staying Positive, and Why Fast & Furious Doesn't Have to End
With his Netflix kids' show, a new picture book, and two more Fast movies, Chris Bridges is crushing it with upbeat vibes.
Ludacris has never had a problem expressing himself. From hilarious one-liners as Tej Parker in the Fast & Furious movies (“we need more alphabet!”) to flipping off cops while doing donuts (“Act a fool!”) the rapper, actor, and producer is synonymous with audacious confidence. But, that famous Luda bravado has a soft side, too. In the opening track of 2004’s Red Light District, Bridges compares himself favorably to the Pillsbury Doughboy, and it’s that softer side that’s actually the real Ludacris. Not soft as in weak, but soft as in upbeat and decidedly pro-unity.
For the past few years, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, a 44-year-old father of four daughters — Karma (20), Cai (8), Cadence (7), and Baby Chance (1) —has become known for his refreshingly good-hearted dad vibes, almost more so than his rap persona. These days, his efforts in kids’ entertainment are just as big as his acting or music. After working on inclusive music videos for children called “KidNation,” Bridges has continued his quest toward assisting families with a jolt of positivity by creating upbeat media. And according to Bridges, his entire goal with the children’s show Karma’s World — which just dropped Season 3 on Netflix — is to help families stay hopeful.
You have to let kids know they’re not alone.
In the Austin Powers send-up “Number One Spot,” Ludacris dropped a Dora the Explorer reference rapping: “I’m exploring like Dora/these Swipers can’t swipe me.” Because his oldest daughter Karma is now 20 years old, it stands to reason that Bridges has been a pseudo-expert on kids’ shows for almost two decades. But the difference is that these days he’s not just making sly references to kids' stuff. Now, he produces his own.
“When kids run into obstacles, you have to let kids know that they’re not alone,” Bridges says. “I think that’s the overall goal of Karma’s World. Karma expresses herself through music and her friends express themselves through art and intelligence. But obviously, it’s about running into obstacles and overcoming those.”
When asked how parents can overcome the obvious obstacles facing families everywhere, Ludacris is quick to point out that gun violence is not a new problem.
“I can't talk so much about what's going on per se, but I can tell you that this negativity and all the stuff that's going on has been going on for a very long time,” Bridges says. “And we’re hearing about it even more and it’s happening even more. But, my overall goal is to offset negativity. To show positive images of kids, obviously from all different ethnicities and all different colors coming together and loving one another. So, any question you might have coming to me about what is going on in the world; that's exactly why I did this. To be the change I want to see in the world.”
Currently, Ludacris’s most visible family-oriented project is the animated musical series Karma’s World, which recently expanded to include Season 3, as well as a line of toys. Meanwhile, Scholastic just published an original Karma’s World tie-in picture book Daddy and Me and the Rhyme to Be, co-written by Bridges and Halycon Person.
My overall goal is to offset negativity.
“I read my daughters so many books, so the goal there was to create a niche and create something that hasn’t been done yet,” Bridges says of the book. “The idea of a collaborative effort in terms of music, but more modern. I wanted fathers and daughters — or parents and children in general — to be able to read this book together and get something different than they would from other books.”
Talking to Bridges isn’t like talking to his late ‘90s/early aughts rap persona. He’s not bragging about money and record deals. Instead, he’s more like a professional motivational speaker, reminding you of things you should probably already know. His advice to parents is forthright and simple. Sometimes you have to turn off the negative media and focus on something positive. Not all the time. But at the very least, when you’re around your kids.
“Some parents do feel helpless, and obviously I don’t think I can change everybody’s mind,” Bridges says, “But I do think that if you listen to some positive music, or you know, watch a positive upbeat show with your kids, it can help a little. You can’t change things that happen to you, but you can absolutely have a decision on how you react. And I just choose to be positive based on how the world is coming at me and, and trying to fight it as much as I can.”
His positivity and enthusiasm also carries over to his personal health. Ludacris, after all, might be the fittest dad of four alive (for the record Chris Hemsworth only has three children). So how does he do it?
“How do I stay so fit?” he says with a laugh. “Well, you know. It’s all cliche answers. There’s no secret. I pretty much exercise six days a week. Sometimes I go off, but it’s important to get back on track. But in a bigger sense, I’m constantly exercising because I’m constantly moving forward. A healthy mind equates to a healthy body and vice versa. I wouldn’t be able to do all these things if I was unhealthy. You wouldn’t hear my voice as vibrant and energetic as it is today if I didn’t exercise, you know? It’s about longevity. it’s is about your family.”
I’m constantly exercising because I’m constantly moving forward.
Speaking of things that are often all about family, Bridges does make it clear that the upcoming Fast films are intended as the definitive ending of that long-running franchise. He can’t speak for the executive producer Vin Diesel, but his character, Tej Parker, will be back in Fast 10 in 2023 and Fast & Furious 10 Part 2 in 2024. After that, he says he’d love to join a Mission: Impossible movie. “Those movies are so smart. My wife [Eudoxie Mbouguiengue] loves them too,” Bridges says. “If there’s anything that I’m a fan of that I’d like to be a part of, it’s that.” But before that hypothetical movie dream can happen, for now, there’s a bittersweet and extended farewell to the Fast franchise. The two-part finale will hit theaters in 2023 and 2024.
“All great things come to an end,” Bridges says. “We're shooting Fast 10 now, and that is the final chapter. But that doesn’t mean it’s gone forever, right? Look at Jurassic Park. That ended. But they reinvigorated it in another way. So I hope the Fast franchise will live on forever. Who knows, it might be our children who continue it, someday.”
Karma’s World Season 3 is streaming on Netflix now.
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