For as far back as my mind will allow me to travel, I have desired to be a famous entertainer. At first, I wished to be a NBA superstar and I had a short-lived career in Pee-Wee basketball. I can’t definitively speak on what ended that career, but it just didn’t last. In any case, another style of entertainment soon got hold of me while I was in my early stages: music.
It began with something I think most kids experience at some point: piano lessons. My teacher was a man well past middle-age who often gave me candy during lessons (creepy, I know). I participated for quite some time, but I never got far and the scales never captivated me. With basketball and piano neither conquered nor fully explored, my next exploits were inspired by my cousin and the many rappers that I listened to.
Let’s begin with my cousin, a successful Jazz drummer who had studied under Jazz legend Jackie McLean. Hearing about my cousin’s travels around the world and seeing him doing his thing in person lit a fire in me to play the drums. My mom gifted me with drum lessons and a practice drum set, and I spent the next nine years attending weekly half-hour and sometimes hour-long lessons. Through all that time, one thing was consistent: I NEVER practiced. I wasn’t disciplined, so while I did grow some over time, it just wasn’t in my heart.
During those long nine years, rap music and hip-hop seized my heart. When I was nine years old, I wrote my first rap and it took off from there. By the sixth grade I had formed a group of friends and we spent our class time writing gangsta raps. Rhyming about guns we didn’t own and crimes we weren’t committing. Although my memory isn’t the best, I hope none of my friends back then were engaging in felony behavior. (I only know for sure I wasn’t.) During the summer after my first year of high school, I had recorded in an actual studio, shot and edited my own music video, and performed with other artists. Throughout my time in high school I was constantly performing in rap cyphers and had recorded several songs with my friends and formed rap groups.
My love for rap music and creating it myself continued into college, where I met more rappers and formed other rap groups and worked on music. Then when I was nineteen I embarked on another form of entertainment, two forms to be specific: comedy and scriptwriting. I had always had the ability to make friends and family laugh, but it wasn’t until my late teens that I thought of stepping onto the stage and attempting to make strangers laugh. My grandmother blessed me with a stand-up comedy class and after several weeks I killed at Caroline’s Comedy Club. Following my success there, I performed on campus and co-hosted several events around campus and even a couple of events in the city for a friend.
As a college freshman I majored in journalism, but that wasn’t where I truly wanted to be. During my sophomore year I had a conversation with my friends and I realized I wanted to write movies and plays. So, I switched into playwriting and screenwriting. People took to my work instantly, and while I struggled to complete school due to poor time management, when I did keep my head down and focus it was always met with success.
The thing about pursuing a life in the arts and entertainment means there is no clear path to reach your destination. It’s about constantly perfecting your craft, being prepared, and capitalizing on your opportunities (a.k.a. being lucky). Most of my close friends are involved in the arts/entertainment field in one way or another. I think I’ve subconsciously gone out and created my own close-knit community with other artists and entertainers. It makes this long and hard journey to a successful life in the arts and entertainment more bearable.