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The Roles They Were Born to Play

Stand-ins for Janis Joplin and Tupac Shakur on their adopted personas.


Kaycee Clanton as Janis Joplin.

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Demetrius Shipp Jr. as Tupac Shakur.

Photo: Courtesy of Morgan Creek

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They’re two of the Bay Area’s most legendary—and tragic—musical figures. And beginning this month, Janis Joplin and Tupac Shakur have something else in common: Their shoes will be stepped into by a couple of their spitting images.

Kacee Clanton
Plays: Janis Joplin in A Night with Janis Joplin (Jun. 7–Jul. 2, A.C.T.).
Pedigree: Played Joplin in the 2001 off-Broadway musical Love, Janis. Later joined Big Brother and the Holding Company on tour.
Connection: “I grew up in Northern California, and my parents had a VW bus with blue-and-purple-striped curtains, so I think Janis was always somewhere nearby. But when I was approached, I didn’t understand what they saw in me that made them think of Janis…. Then I started studying footage, and I thought, ‘Wow! There it is.’ That’s when I saw what they were seeing.”

Demetrius Shipp Jr.
Plays: Tupac Shakur in All Eyez on Me (opens Jun. 16).
Pedigree: Shipp’s father was a record producer with Death Row Records, where he recorded Tupac’s single “Toss It Up.”
Connection: Shipp acknowledges he’s been likened to the Bay Area–raised rapper for years. “High school’s when it really started,” he told L.A. radio station Real 92.3. “Like 10th grade. I kicked it with all the older cats, and that’s what they called me: Pac. To this day, when they see me, they call me Pac.” As to whether he sees the resemblance: “I mean, certain angles, or when I go bald, yeah.”


Originally published in the June issue of San Francisco 

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