He's a founding member of rap and hip-hop, but there's a tony club into which emerging thespian LL Cool J is eager to be rushed. "I want to be in the fraternity of actors," he tells TV Guide Online. "I want to be accepted by the media and the other actors as a person [who] really does act and does his job as an actor. Right now, my dream and my focus is to one day be on the A-list."

Well, the 33-year-old Queens, N.Y. native is about to take a step closer to joining the ranks of the Hollywood elite. After landing supporting roles in such films as Any Given Sunday, Deep Blue Sea and In Too Deep, LL moves front and center in the family dramedy Kingdom Come (opening Wednesday). "This was the biggest stretch that I've made as an actor, and the biggest step that I've taken," he says of the pic, which also stars Whoopi Goldberg, Jada Pinkett Smith and Vivica A. Fox.

Even though he hasn't abandoned his music career — his latest CD, The Greatest of All Time (G.O.A.T.), debuted last year at No. 1 on the album charts — LL said "Amen" to Kingdom Come because he wanted "the opportunity to show people that I could do something serious and do a role that would totally separate me from anything associated with my music persona.

"[Kingdom Come] is an actor's piece, especially my role, because it's the heart and soul of the movie," explains the former sitcom star (In the House). "These aren't the types of roles that rap-actors do. I'm not trying to be LL in every movie. Acting is a slow process, [and] I don't take the easy way out."