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
From the March 2010 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
We Hear You!