Derrick Ashong
Photo: George Burns
On Saturdays Derrick Ashong hosts Oprah Radio's The Derrick Ashong Experience, a lively forum covering music, culture, and politics. Born in Ghana in 1975, Ashong is also a musician, Harvard alum, occasional actor (Amistad), and sometime Internet star: In 2008 his analysis of the Obama campaign platform (delivered to a surprised reporter in search of a sound bite) garnered more than one million YouTube views. Here, the up-and-comer shares a few epiphanies.
1. I have big shoes to fill. My father was the only one of ten children to attend college. When I was 5, he put his graduation cap on my head and said, "Maybe someday you'll go to Harvard, too." If he hadn't made it, I wouldn't have, either.

2. You can't bend to expectations. My professors encouraged me to be an academic; my bandmates want me to focus on music; my actor friends think I should be acting. But at some point, you become what you are, rather than trying to fit another person's idea of you.

3. Uncertainty can be a good sign. When I'm starting a project, I often psych myself out: "Am I too old for this? Do I have enough money? Will I be good enough?" But if I'm asking those questions, chances are I'm about to do something worthwhile.

Listen to Derrick Ashong's radio show


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