…Perhaps a movement for self-love in the black community. Not enough of us really love who we are truly. And because of it, we have created a cycle of habits that are unhealthy amongst our own. Once we love ourselves, we then can spread love top everyone else causing a ripple effect because black people are the most influential. This may not be the most politically correct thing to say but it’s hard to debate this when our influence is everywhere.
I had the pleasure to interview London Brown. Born and raised in South Central, Los Angeles, London is a comedian, trained actor and dancer. He stars on the HBO series “Ballers” opposite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Previously he was the lead in “The Hustle” for The Fuse Network which was created and produced by Prentice Penny. He recently won best actor for his role in Asia bA at the Overcome Festival and won Best International Comedian at the 2013 Black Comedy Awards in the UK. He has toured with Chris Tucker as his opener and other headliners. He is currently headlining his own international comedy tour. He goes by the quote : Everything is everything which is even a tattoo on his arm and the Stand UP comedy tour he his doing the name of it is the Hustle. As well he love Fashion; the media and the public are noticing it more and more, he has a unique sense for style and styling people. He will be filming Ballers season 5 shortly. He is also a photographer and working on a photography book to raise money for the homeless as well.
Thank you so much for joining us London. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was born and raised in South Central LA. Mother, Step Father, Grandmother and oldest of 5 siblings.
Raised in church. Growing up, I was always involved in some kind of after school program or something artistic ( band, theatre arts programs). It was this or join a gang. And according to my mother, joining a gang wasn’t an option. My main thing was to survive. I stayed next door to crips ( gang members) and 5 houses down from another set of crips (Gang members). On the way to church was several gang neighborhoods I had to cross just as it was getting to school. Making gang members laugh kept me from any serious dealings. I got what’s known as a”pass”. And i’m sure my mother’s prayers helped me make through too.
Can you share a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always been artistic. Growing up I didn’t know what field I would pursue but I knew for sure I would be an artist. I began to experiment w/ different genres of art to discover which lane was most passionate about. I went through different seasons of being a musician, animator, dancer and actor. After doing a play in high school, and getting that feedback from the audience, and made a very conscious decision to stick w/ this idea of acting. After high school I was still searching trying to find my way into this thing called “ being an actor”. While working my telemarketing job at the Los Angeles Times Newspaper, I would make my co-workers laugh by doing impersonations for customers in order to sell the paper. One of my managers, Paul Johnson, encouraged me to perform some jokes for the job’s talent show. For me Stand-up comedy is extension of theatre. So to perform jokes felt like a one man play. this transition was seamless. I did the job talent show and it went well. Paul got me booked at a restaurant and the seed of comedy grew from there.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
There are quite a few ideas I find interesting about my path. One I’ve always imagined everything that’s happening. Maybe not by face and names but these ideas of being an artist amongst those I’ve watched and admire has been there. One example, I used to walk around on my high school campus entertaining a group of girls from my Chris Tucker impersonations. Years later I ended up being his opener on his international tour and now we’re friends. Full circle moment.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I first started stand-up, I used to curse a lot. Not so much because I wanted to but I was nervous. So to seem as though I wasn’t , I thought cursing would help me be more relatable. One day after a gig went back to count all the profanity I used and was embarrassed. I used over a hundred curse words that weren’t need. I learned that I don’t have to be that verbose w/ profanity to make people laugh. Simply put, if the thought didn’t move the joke along, cut it.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Right now I’m touring the country as the headliner. I’ve toured for many different reasons. I.e. theatre, dance and as Chris Tucker’s opener for a few years. This time around its all me. I can appreciate this process of building my fan base on the road because it allows me to connect w/ all types of people and ages directly for an hour. A really personal vibe as I share my ups and down of my life.
I’m very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
One of the reasons why it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television is because when we watch tv or catch a film we subconsciously look for characters we can identify w/ to help us follow the story. Which makes for a more connected emotional experience.
Secondly, it’s important so that the truth is told from the right perspective. So many great ideas about our history get lost because the people telling them don’t care to be honest because telling the truth would be too empowering for those oppressed. I don’t mean to get deep but I’m just being honest.
Thirdly, it would inspire a whole new generation or young writers, directors and so forth. It’s time for change….
From your personal experience, can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do help address some of the diversity issues in the entertainment business?
- I sure can. Hire more people of color! It’s not hard at all. If people really want change they will change it. However, people of color can’t wait for those in power to make adjustments because if they wanted to they would have already. It’s been years of the same ideas. Black people and people of color have to create our own projects and hire our own. Hiring our own doesn’t mean hate towards anyone else. It just creates balance and opportunity.
- Black people and people of color have to support their own films and show that there is an audience for our own market.
- Lastly work w/ the younger generation of artist who are interested in entertainment. Conditioning them to learn to do for self. So by the time they become adults, they aren’t waitin on opportunities, they are now the ones who create them. Game changers.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
I wish someone had told me
1.Whatever I wanted to be, I could be.
2. Chase your dreams today. Don’t wait until you’re an “adult”.
3. You will fail but its ok because that’s apart of the process.
4. College isn’t for everyone
5. Don’t trip
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Go after the thing that makes you happy!! DO NOT CHASE THE MONEY… chasing the money will, at some point, cause you to become burnt out because money doesn’t make you happy. Stay focused and don’t worry about failing. That will happen any way. You might as well let’s it happen w/ something that’s worth it, ending in results that ultimately will become progress towards your goal.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Perhaps a movement for self-love in the black community. Not enough of us really love who we are truly. And because of it, we have created a cycle of habits that are unhealthy amongst our own. Once we love ourselves, we then can spread love top everyone else causing a ripple effect because black people are the most influential. This may not be the most politically correct thing to say but its hard to debate this when our influence is everywhere.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’m really grateful for my mother. She always encouraged me to go after what ever it is I wanted to do but to keep God first. In fact there are a few folks. Also my high school theatre teacher Mark Swinton , Byron Nora (Director/ Acting coach). I have long list of people I could name. But these are jus a few key people who had a real hand in where I am today. Couldn’t be more grateful.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“There’s no reason to have a plan B because it distracts from plan A” Will Smith. I live by this. I’m all in everyday to get closer to what it is I want. Words are very powerful. Every day I say that I’m focused. This creates an energy for me that keep me on track to reaching my plan A.Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂 Will Smith. I feel I share the same passion as he does. Speaking w/ will would probably ignite a flame I didn’t know was out in my drive.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I’d really like to have a sit down w/ a few greats; Will Smith, Floyd Mayweather, Kobe Bryan, Jay-Z. I’ve noticed that there is a common thread amongst these guys. I’d like to pick their brain for more understanding of the mental process they live by to reach their level of success.