Community//

Kevin Hunter: “Don’t start anything, you can’t finish, even if I haven’t fully accomplished something to the best of my ability”

If you don’t have diversity in television and film during these ever-changing times, especially on television, we will continue to have one group of people who guess for one other culture. I’ve absolutely worked in an environment where I was one of a few people who had today in and out explain why certain things […]

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If you don’t have diversity in television and film during these ever-changing times, especially on television, we will continue to have one group of people who guess for one other culture. I’ve absolutely worked in an environment where I was one of a few people who had today in and out explain why certain things wouldn’t fly. And in today’s environment, when it comes to African American issues and those surrounding the African American family, you can’t just have one group or culture making all the programming decisions based on their opinions. And I’m just speaking for my culture. What about the many misrepresented cultures because of only one group of people who dominate the television industry and “think they know” what everybody else wants to see or how certain things affect certain cultures? You can’t do it, but for so long and often, these people miss the mark, definitely time to open floodgates, long overdue.


As part of our series about how to become known as a thought leader in your industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kevin Hunter. He is the hardest working man in entertainment! With over 15 years and counting of unparalleled success and experience, Kevin has earned his stripes. From humble beginnings, Kevin knew he would have to set the bar high and creatively find new ways to rise to the top. Having dropped out of high school in the 10th grade, Kevin didn’t let that stop him from pursuing his goals. After receiving his G.E.D., Kevin went on to graduate from Job Corp with a concentration in construction. Working in construction provided a sense of independence that inspired Kevin to start his own company.

Question Mark Entertainment was established as Kevin started a party promoting company that impelled him to orchestrate signature events with radio D.J.s such as DJ S&S, Mr. Cee, and many others. Kevin turned his passion for entrepreneurship into several businesses, such as beauty salons, car washes, and detail centers, management companies, restaurants, and a publishing company called Hunter Publishing Group. Moreover, Kevin has produced talk shows, films, and television series.

Kevin’s mission has always been to create a better life for him and his family. His passion for the community and youth has motivated him to start The Hunter Foundation, along with his family, to give young people a chance at success who are struggling with drug and substance abuse in impoverished communities. One mission for The Hunter Foundation is to be a guiding resource, platform, and outlet for young people in urban communities, who like Kevin, didn’t have the resources but with the proper support, can find their way to success.


Thank you so much for joining us. Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I grew up in Brownsville, Brooklyn. My mother was a single parent of three. I am the middle child to an older sister and younger brother. Riverdale projects apartment 5H was borderline poor to all right only because my mom was a hustler and would do hair out of the apartment. She had converted one of the bedrooms into a salon equipped with a washer sink, really a sit-down dryer, the whole nine. I woke up Saturday morning to a house full of women at like eight years old. She eventually got her shop, and we moved to Lake View Long Island when I started high school.

Honestly, I think most of the urban youth growing up in the ’90s wanted to work in or around the entertainment industry. It was such a thriving, vibrant time not just for music but also for black film, tv, etc. and behind the scenes stuff. You had magazines like The Source and VIBE documenting the rise of young urban executives, and it was always exciting to see an increase of riches in young urban executives. I didn’t know where I would fit, so I started promoting parties and culture. I lost more than I won, but the wins were spectacular, and I’ve met some great people. Through my passion, I found out that managing talent would be a great way to make moves and guide talent and remain behind the scenes. Sort of a quiet riot, I always respected men or women behind the talent or machine just as much.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I remember when I got locked up for throwing a party, it was the mid 90’s, and at this point, my party promoting was at an all-time high. At the time, I was dating my ex-wife Wendy Williams, and she held the top afternoon spot at the time in N.Y.C. on H.O.T. 97. I also was beating the streets with a great promo team, Question Mark Entertainment, which I founded. We were doing hot parties with all the top artists at the time, such as Jay-Z, Foxy Brown, Junior Mafia, Wu-Tang, and many others. Anyway, an opportunity came up to obtain an official summer jam after-party for hot 97. Now at the time, this was like 1st or 2nd-year summer jam that was happening, and I think Biggie was headlining summer jam. My team and I were able to secure a spot in Brooklyn that could hold 5,000 people.

I was able to get the drop on after-party and put in the request since I was already doing business with the radio station. There was a lot of hate because of my relationship with Wendy. Also, my positioning of promoting parties radio and pounding the streets. The radio station gave me an absurd price for obtaining a party, thinking I would not have a place or the latitude to pull it off, especially in Brooklyn. Once everything was secured, I was off to the races. I started promoting crazy even before I secured any talent and was selling a massive amount of tickets from the venue all day and night! We were coming from everywhere to buy tickets, including D.C. and Virginia. One day, police ran down on the venue while we were operating out of the box office to sell tickets and arrested my team members and me for selling tickets!! No rhyme or reason whatsoever, even officers involved seemed bewildered at the time I was locked up for four hours then released. To this day, I think the radio station was involved and hated, but the party was a super success, and we had over 5,000 people and clogged up the whole Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn like it was a Greek Fest.

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?

My funniest story was also a costly one; unfortunately, it taught me never to underestimate the underdog. So, while my team at Question Mark Entertainment and I were promoting some of the hottest parties in Brooklyn, we were desperately trying to make our way to Manhattan and have events at one of the premier clubs there. You see, back in the ’90s, you were the absolute shit if you could take over a Manhattan club on one of its premier nights. Anyway, I finally got my shot at Club Esso across from Jacob Javits Center, a prime location Thursday night during the summer. Our parties’ reputation was spreading, and it is safe to say I was feeling myself crazy. Anyway, the club’s phones were ringing, and I happen to be in the office when Jay Z called, not the 62 million records sold later, mega businessman, mogul, rap god Jay Z, but the “in my lifetime “ain’t no nigga Jay Z. Now both records were fire at the time.

Still, you couldn’t have possibly told me that he was going to be THAT GUY as a rapper even though he always made smart business moves. Anyway, he’s on the phone, cool as hell, ready to support and come through and party. My overzealous cocky ass pushes the envelope and wants to know if he can also perform. Now, this is after he had already done 2–3 free promo shows for us, his reply was “not for free, right?” and I said, of course not, I got you! I hung up the phone and said out loud, “I’m not paying this guy” didn’t think twice about it or him and remained on that high of being on top for making it to the city; I didn’t see that him reaching out personally to come support was just as good for me as it was for him. Needless to say, the party was just okay; I underestimated how Brooklyn travels to the city to party and that it was a whole new market. Jay came, and because I was overwhelmed and not as familiar with club security, I didn’t even leave his name. They shitted on him at the door, and he didn’t even get in. It wasn’t until one of my people working during the whole situation ran into Jay like two years later at Greek Fest in Long Island, NY. At this point, he’s the shit, and I was giving him props. Jay still remembered that club night and had great disdain in his voice (i.e., no love) and pretty much brushed my people off. After thinking about it a lot and growing up a lot, I realize never underestimating or assume shit about anyone on the come-up in entertainment or any business. Today’s intern is tomorrow’s C.E.O., and I’m definitely not excluded from the process. It’s funny what could’ve come out of it all if I never fronted, and whatever I would have paid, it was next to nothing to what I would have gained.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I am equally as excited about everything I’m involved in, starting with Head Hunter Publishing. I love Sonia Alleyne’s book, I Kick Ass at Work, and the creative do-it-yourself journal that comes with it. I also love The Larry Davis Story as told by his widow and the compelling life story of Ray Hamlin and his climb to become the Civil Rights Attorney he is today. He is an injustice warrior, and in his memoir, Relentless Justice, he openly shares his many cases and their precedents behind them. Also, I will be releasing Xscape member Tamika Scott cookbook Cooking with Tamika Scott soon. The two restaurants I just opened in Brooklyn are like a dream come true. Loreto is a high-end Italian, and Stush is Caribbean vegan, which is my particular favorite because it comes from a heavily researched concept and is being brought to life. Both restaurants will have a distinctive cool edge that will fit right into the ever-emerging renaissance of Brooklyn.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started,” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

If you don’t have diversity in television and film during these ever-changing times, especially on television, we will continue to have one group of people who guess for one other culture. I’ve absolutely worked in an environment where I was one of a few people who had today in and out explain why certain things wouldn’t fly. And in today’s environment, when it comes to African American issues and those surrounding the African American family, you can’t just have one group or culture making all the programming decisions based on their opinions. And I’m just speaking for my culture. What about the many misrepresented cultures because of only one group of people who dominate the television industry and “think they know” what everybody else wants to see or how certain things affect certain cultures? You can’t do it, but for so long and often, these people miss the mark, definitely time to open floodgates, long overdue.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Never lose the sense of self and the foundation you were built and centered. That means if you’re a family- oriented person, never lose the sense of family, no matter how much you gain or accomplish on the business side. If you are social, love the movies, practice yoga, or like to travel to get away from it all, don’t lose your sense of absolute self and what brought you here or what keeps you going. All work and no, you are a recipe for disaster.

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?

I wish there was government-funded or college programs that allowed reformed criminals who were convicted of running large-scale drug or criminal enterprises the opportunity to obtain a degree or certification. They weren’t involved in murders, and their cases would be properly screened to obtain their business degree based on the self-taught business acumen they acquired while running their businesses in the streets. I often think if you took half of the executives from the street and allowed them to compete and obtain some form of legitimacy and documentation from a major institution, that would validate them. It would give them the STAMP for corporate America to accept. You would see less crime and more progression for commerce in this system. The reformed person would again have a chance at making the same money they made while incarcerated. Of course, they would work harder. The rules and laws surrounding such a program would be severe if they slipped again, and it would also be subjective to the individual’s circumstances.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Ironically, I’m most grateful to my ex-wife, Wendy Williams, and our powerful journey. Most importantly, the opportunity I was trusted with to manage a one of a kind dynamic talent and get a crash course in this entertainment industry on a high level and be part of super-ceding all odds and obstacles and being part of radio and television history. The stuff I learned and acquired you simply will not learn in college. Especially as a high school dropout with a G.E.D and one semester completed at community college. I am forever grateful for the opportunity I had in the culture-changing process.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I’m a firm believer in “Don’t start anything, you can’t finish, even if I haven’t fully accomplished something to the best of my ability.” I’m going to go out pushing. Even if I foresee some failure, I’m not going to give up. I’m going to follow it through a win-lose or draw. No matter what, I stand to gain much knowledge during the process, so I’m more aware. I’m always ready and working towards the win but prepared for loss if need be, and I’m going to finish it still to see how it plays out.

Is there a person in the world, or in the U.S. 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 would love to meet Louis Carey Camilleri, C.E.O of Ferrari, and discuss the possibility of the brand’s diversity. I want to enlighten him on the ever-growing amount of African Americans’ influence on the brand and creating more opportunities for African Americans to buy into the brand. Other than stock and cars and give us opportunities to own dealerships and sell these wonderful machines and other exotic brands to our people and others would love to start the conversation

Thank you so much for your insights. This was very insightful and meaningful.

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