BANFF, Alta. - With two Grammy awards on his trophy mantel and a successful TV series, you might think Common would be content.
But the hip-hop star, currently filming the third season of the AMC western "Hell on Wheels" near Calgary, is far from satisfied.
"I want to be at the Emmys for this show. I go on with the mentality of touching the sky or reaching for the highest levels. We've had a great success with what we've done with the show but there's still room for us to grow," Common, whose real name is Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., said in an interview at the Banff World Media Festival.
"Do I have an Emmy? Not yet but I will."
Set in 1865, "Hell on Wheels" chronicles the settlement that accompanied the construction of the first transcontinental railroad, referred to as "Hell on Wheels" by the company men, surveyors, support workers, labourers and prostitutes who make the mobile encampment their home.
It stars Anson Mount as Cullen Bohannon, a former Confederate soldier who works as a foreman on the railroad as he tries to track down the Union soldiers who murdered his wife and young son.
It's one of a number of successful series on AMC hits such as "Breaking Bad," "Mad Men," "The Walking Dead" and "The Killing."
Common plays Elam Ferguson, a freed slave who ends up working on the railroad.
"You can expect a lot of dramatic turns and twists and fun this season. The show has become more fun. It's not all drama. Some of it has its own time for you to smile and laugh," he said.
"You can expect a high level of drama. Cullen Bohannon in his quest, Elam on his quest, the Swede, Mickey, all these good characters are going to find themselves and there are some incredible new characters too."
Common has already scored significant roles in such films as "Smokin' Aces," "Street Kings," "American Gangster," "Wanted," "Date Night" and "New Year's Eve."
"I would like to do some leading roles in some major films and a leading role in an independent film that would be at the Cannes Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival and later goes on to garner an Oscar," Common said.
"I want to be part of some Oscar award winning films. I have to acknowledge I want to grow as an actor and at the same time keep growing as a musician."
Common hasn't abandoned his musical career. He has a record coming out in September which will include collaborations with Kid Cudi and Kamper.
With music, poetry and acting on his resume, Common has a simple description as to how he prefers to label himself.
"I would use the word artist 'cause an artist is so limitless. It takes an artist to be an actor, you've got to have some type of art just to have the ability to be an actor but then again an artist is also a recording artist."