Tracy Oliver first saw “Barbershop” as a student at Spring Valley High School in Columbia.
The film about a struggling barbershop in Chicago’s South Side was released in 2002, with a sequel in 2004.
On Wednesday, Oliver sat for the premiere of “Barbershop: The Next Cut” — the third installment in the “Barbershop” series — and listened as stars such as Ice Cube and Nicki Minaj said lines she wrote.
Oliver co-wrote the film script with “Blackish” writer Kenya Barris, based on characters from the first two movies created by Mark Brown. “Barbershop: The Next Cut” hits theaters April 15.
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“It was just really surreal to see the stars that I grew up watching acting my lines,” Oliver said.
The Columbia native and Stanford grad has worked on ABC’s sci-fi romantic comedy series “The Neighbors” and the Starz drama series “Survivor’s Remorse.” “The Next Cut” is her big movie break, she said.
A dozen years after “Barbershop 2: Back in Business,” “The Next Cut” returns to Calvin’s Barbershop, a once male-dominated sanctuary that is now coed. The surrounding community has taken a turn for the worse, and the barbershop crew decides it’s up to them to save the neighborhood.
The movie’s star-studded cast includes Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Nicki Minaj, Anthony Anderson, Tyga and Regina Hall.
While there are plenty of jokes, the film also tackles the serious subject of Chicago’s gang violence.
“The studio and producers wanted to make sure that we didn't shy away or sugarcoat the (real) problems in the South Side,” Oliver said. “The South Side has always been the setting for this movie, so we didn't want to change the setting. But now you have 7- and 12-year-old kids getting murdered walking down the street. The statistics are really alarming.”
Despite the grim nature of the issue, Oliver said the honesty of the script is one of her favorite things about the movie.
The writer now lives in L.A., but returned to Columbia on Saturday for a private screening of “The Next Cut” for friends and family at the Nickelodeon Theatre.
“It’s really cool to have my family see it. My family put a lot of energy and effort into my education growing up,” Oliver said. “It’s a big moment not just for me, but for them, too. I’m excited to share it with them.”
After “The Next Cut,” Oliver said she has a couple movies in the works at Universal and a potential TV pilot with Fox featuring Misty Copeland.
“I’m crossing my fingers for that one,” she said.