In Charge of My Craft
As a black man in America, life is very wavering to say the least. The stigma placed upon us from birth is something we never asked for and was unfairly placed upon us by those that fear us and our greatness. Growing up in Chicago and seeing the way Black people were treated in the community and especially in media was something that always bothered me. I wanted to change the perspective of black people, because the image I saw portrayed by the world, was not the one I saw daily as a black man. I loved basketball and wanted to reach the NBA, but life had a different plan for me. No matter what I wanted to do, I always had a plan to help my family and community. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the NBA but that didn’t mean I couldn’t do something for my people. I got into entertainment being in the right place at the right time. While at the local YMCA my baseball coach asked me if I wanted to audition for a movie and I said cool. I didn’t know I was really going to do a movie, but God works in mysterious way.
I ended up getting the role of “Kofi’ in the film Hardball with Keanu Reeves and Diane Lane. At 14 years old I was about to be in feature film. Thinking back on it and talking to people about it still gives me chills and makes me realize what I did for someone my color and from where I’m from. That doesn’t happen everyday. Opportunities like that doesn’t just fall in your lap. And shooting it was amazing! Some of the most fun I ever had. I Got to travel to LA and Toronto, be interviewed on “E” TV and radio spots. At that time I didn’t understand what I was doing, just that I didn’t have to go to school and I got to travel. All of the kids were from around the Chicago area except for two which included Michael B. Jordan. It’s great to see how great his career has been and that it’s still taken off knowing that I was one of his castmates in his first feature film. Just another example of how crazy the world works. We all got along on set most of the times. Some days we would have our little disputes but for the most part we kicked it anytime we got a chance to. For most of us it was our first time being in a film, so we all were learning how making a movie at the same time. I think us being newbies was what made us get along and work well with each other. When working with the star of the Matrix, Keanu Reeves, you would think I would get cold feet but I didn’t. We got along well and I was able to be myself and feel comfortable on and off camera. That’s important when working on set because you are around people for 10 hours a day for months and you can get restless. But Keanu was cool and made me feel like I had being doing films for years.
The movie was a huge opportunity, but I almost didn’t do it because the role would have impacted my summer with my grandmother and the start of high school. I Never thought I would be in the entertainment industry after doing that film but after the reaction from fans, my grandmother and realizing over time how much fun I had, I came back to it. Also being older, wiser and clearer of who I am and what I want to bring to the world helped too. I’m a tenacious person, but loyalty runs through my veins. At times I may appear aloof, but I am a very caring person in regards to people and my craft. These traits are why I enjoy being in charge of my own vision and creativity. The freedom I get with entertainment is unparalleled. I love to make people laugh and cry. I love having the ability to control people’s feelings.
I started a podcast called “Live From the Couch” to express my own thoughts that many might not agree with, but are sound and understandable. The idea of naming the podcast that came from the fact that most of us when we are with our friends and we are talking about some serious stuff, are usually sitting on the couch when this happens. If you look at most TV shows, most conversations are done on or around the couch. The podcast gives me the medium to use my voice. Especially to help me get a following for future projects I have.
Being in this industry off and on for the last 15+ years I’ve realized being yourself is something of true value and mental toughness.
This is something that Black people deal with daily, because we are always trying to be accepted by the outside. “Being “Black” can only get you so far” is what is said to us. “You have to be part of the norm. You have to talk a certain way to do this and dress a certain way to do that.” I don’t accept any of this rhetoric because I am who I am and what God wants me to be overall. With this mindset, I have a voice I want to spread to everyone just like my mentors before me. I want to be a voice for the unheard and let my people know that we don’t have to agree, but we must respect one another’s voice. Fame comes with being in the industry, but being respected by my Black peers and doing what’s right is most important to me.