We first knew him as Mr. 305. Today he's best known as Mr. Worldwide, singing, performing and entertaining kids and adults alike, scoring several number one hits. Recently Pitbull hit the big screen in the new animated film "Epic," which also stars Beyoncé, Steven Tyler, Colin Farrell, Amanda Seyfried and others.
Armando Perez, Pitbull, was born in Miami and through music was able to turn his life from negative to positive. In his "Epic" role, he portrays Bufo, a funny-looking but well-dressed toad, living in the enchanted shrunken forest with the Leafmen and other characters in this classic good versus evil film.
Pitbull was recently in Manhattan promoting the movie and stopped by a Mamarazzi event, hosted by The Moms -- the media duo of Denise Albert and Melissa Gerstein. Here's what he had to say about his debut movie role, what music means to him and how he inspires kids.
Q. What made you decide to star in "Epic?"
"'Epic' was an amazing opportunity. It reminded me of two films that I used to watch when I was younger, and they were successful, so why wouldn't this movie be successful? It's also an honor to be working with Beyoncé, Steven Tyler, Colin Farrell and the whole cast. The movie made me feel like a kid again, especially hearing my voice on a frog. Plus, what's better than playing a frog so that beautiful moms can give you a kiss and you'll turn into a prince."
Q. You've really built a brand for yourself. Kids all over the world are listening to what you do. Do you keep that in mind in everything that you do?
"Music is a universal language. Kids are the best critics. They tell you the truth. They are real with you, whether you like it or not. It's great to have kids enjoying, but it's always something to keep in mind one way or another. My mother always told me the pen is mightier than the sword. You have to be real careful of what you write, words are powerful."
Q. How did you take your life from a negative to a positive?
"Through music. There were a lot of tough decisions growing up. And a lot of different things I could have easily been involved with. So with that said, through music I got a chance to channel that. Music was my therapy. I always let people know that I didn't always come from the best upbringing, and I'm definitely not an angel. But through music, I've been able to show everyone that they need to believe in themselves and work hard. 'Patience, passion and perseverance equals success' is my motto."
Q. What do you say to kids today to inspire them?
"I'm actually involved with Miami charter schools in Little Havana. With kids, you have to engage and entertain through education. That's how we motivate and inspire them. That's the reason that I'm involved in schools. My mother, my grandmother and a teacher were the people who helped me change my life. I definitely want to do the same thing for kids -- to help them realize how powerful and great they can be.
Q. Who inspired you and what's your message to kids who want to live out their dreams?
"My mother was very motivating and inspiring. My mother was my father. I was raised by a single mom. My mother is the most important thing to me. She always told me to believe in myself, to work hard and to be a good person. If you don't know where you are from, you don't know where you're going, and if you don't stand for something you're going to fall flat. My mom worked very, very, very hard to inspire me. She helped me realize I could do anything in my life. My message to kids: 'Listen to your parents, especially your moms.'"