Nicky Jam is more than just a reggaeton star — he's a multi-faceted artist.
Speaking to PEOPLE about his new film deal with Westbrook Studios on the action comedy Regulators — where the Dominican-Puerto Rican star is set to play the lead role — he also opened up about his legendary career and why his ventures outside of music are the right move.
Though Jam, 41, has starred in films like Bad Boys For Life and voiced a cartoon in Tom and Jerry, this deal is a major step for the "El Amante" singer.
"It's something really big for the culture, something really big for Latinos and something really big for my brand," says the singer, whose real name is Nick Rivera Caminero. "The only thing I want to do is inspire people."
Among the film's producers is Will Smith, whom Jam previously worked with on Bad Boys and admires deeply.
"He's so professional, so disciplined, so determined. Everything he touches is golden. I see myself in him. And every time we talk, I learn something new about him," the "X" singer says.
He also feels good knowing the 54-year-old actor believes in him enough to take on a lead role: "He knows I'm a clown. He's seen me. And he's a clown too. Clowns know clowns. So he knows I'm really good with all this funny stuff in the movie. I can't talk too much about it, but it goes with that action-comedy type of vibe. And I think I'm the right one."
Though Jam was one of the first to break through with reggaeton in the '90s, he says that starring in movies was always part of the plan.
"Movies is something that I liked since I was a little kid. When I was in school, I used to do theater. I did Winnie the Pooh and all that when I was a kid. So I'm prepared. Winnie the Pooh prepared me. It's something that I always liked and I've always had that charism."
"But the reality of everything is that I just feel that it's for me. And when you're an artist, you an artist in so many way, in so many branches," he adds, noting that stars like Smith and Queen Latifah inspire him for their ability to switch from rap careers to onscreen actors.
But don't worry fans, he's still coming in hot with new music: "I'm coming out with a new album. I don't know the name yet because I want to finish the album and then... I just want to work with the whole project and see where it takes me. I have so many things going on right now."
Earlier this month, he earned two Latin Grammy nominations under the urban song and reggaeton performance categories. The award show is set to take place on Nov. 17 in Las Vegas.
At the award show, the star will officially announce his scholarship — which will be named after him — for one student at the Berklee College of School and Music for $250,000. For Jam, giving back is everything.
"I'm from Boston. And obviously, I came from nothing, and music saved my life. Music saved my life," he says. I would love to change somebody's life with a scholarship to go to Berklee for music. I know what music could do for you. I know what music has done for me."
"There's a lot of kids in the streets today that probably don't see the possibilities or see it too difficult, it's too hard. And they probably need that help. I was one that needed it," he says. "I hustled my way there, but we can probably find the next Beethoven or the next Bad Bunny, the best next Nicky Jam, the next... who knows? And that's what I want to do. That's part of my legacy."