Common's "Glory," featuring John Legend, earned an Academy Award nomination for best original song. The track, which won a Golden Globe Award earlier this week, is in the film "Selma," where Common plays the role of activist James Bevel.
"I feel like, 'Wow! I never knew that this would happen,'" Common said in a phone interview Thursday from Los Angeles. "Just thinking about creating songs in music and in hip-hop, and for me to say, 'I'm an Oscar-nominated actor, or artist. I'm an Oscar-nominated person,' it's incredible.
"I am overwhelmed and inspired and enthused. I am actually ready to do more work now."
Thursday would have been King's 86th birthday. He was assassinated in 1968 at age 39.
The 44-year-old Common, whose real name is Lonnie Lynn, has won Grammy Awards for his conscience music, and he's had a number of acting roles. He says being part of "Selma," which is based on the 1965 marches from the Alabama cities of Selma to Montgomery led by King, is a nice summation of his career because it involves activism, serious acting and deep music.
"This movie is what I am about. This movie is about standing up for what you believe in, it's about equality and justice and people getting their rights, and as an artist, as a human being, as an actor, that's what I want to express," he said.
"Selma" is also nominated for best picture. Common says he had hoped to see his cast mates as well as director Ava DuVernay earn nominations, too.
"I was very much hoping because Ava created an incredible piece of work and that film is a beautiful film," he said. "And David Oyelowo, actually (costume designer) Ruth Carter, like I was hoping for our whole team because we created a family. But for sure Ava DuVernay because ... she put so much heart and soul into it."