SI: Do you swim?
Howard: Now I do. At first I couldn't do 25 yards.
SI: When you couldn't cross the pool, what did Jim Ellis say?
Howard: Jim didn't say it. A 15-year-old girl looked at me and said, "You swim like a wounded animal, and you're fat."
SI: You talked to 123 pimps to prepare for your role in Hustle & Flow. What kind of research did you do for Pride?
Howard: Any coach is basically an extension of the home. He's a father figure, and I've had 14 years' experience being a father. But I talked to a number of swim coaches.
SI: USA Swimming says less than 1% of 232,000 competitive swimmers in the U.S. are black. Can this film help change that?
Howard: We believe the things that we can see. Jim has had a number of his kids compete at the Olympic trials. This film might inspire young kids to say, "We can do this."
KEVIN WINTER/GETTY IMAGES (HOWARD)