Meet Our Featured OWNers
"I'm a father, husband, motivational speaker, TV talk show host, poet and rapper. I have spent my entire life working to give a voice to the voiceless because I didn't have a voice growing up. I was bullied growing up in Boston because of my African name, even though I was born here and do not have an accent. I found my voice in poetry and started sharing it everywhere. Now, as a youth motivational speaker, I am committed to doing everything in my power to ensure that no teen is placed in the position that I was. I've traveled to 19 countries with this message, and I won't stop now! Musically, I do poetry and hip-hop in English, French and Swahili. I have found pride in my culture and showcase it in my work."
What is your favorite OWN show?
"Super Soul Sunday" and Oprah's Master Class are my favorite OWN shows. I am a fan of seeing people who have inspired me, and even people I do not know, speak about their trials and tribulations. The only way we can be successful is to learn from the experiences of others, and so I really appreciate these shows.
What are your three favorite things?
(1) Saturday exercise day with the family! (2) Motivating people, especially youth. (3) Writing music with a message.
What would your superpower be?
I would like Storm's superpower from the X-Men movies (she was played by Halle Berry). She controls the weather. If I had that power, I could fly to places where vegetation is an issue and give them the ability to grow their own food and create a self-sustaining lifestyle for themselves and not be so dependent on the rest of the world. I have lived, worked or performed in 20 countries, and the things I have seen just break my heart. Simple changes in environment can make a world of difference.
What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
I say thank you, I listen to something motivational, and then I exercise. They say whatever you do for the first 20 minutes of your day affects the spirit of your entire day, so I am intentional about what I do when I wake up.
What is the last thing you do before you go to bed?
I usually watch something on TV that makes me laugh or feel good to put me in a happy mood. I don't like going to sleep upset or sad. I then check in on our daughters to make sure they're good and still asleep, and then it's lights out.
What is the one item you can't live without, and why?
I cannot live without my family. I consider my family an item because I can touch them every day. I can hold and hug them. My family means everything to me, and I am doing my best to build that same sense of family with my wife and two children. I am nothing without them.
What do you like that most people dislike?
I like talking to people and getting to know their stories. That's why I became a talk show host. Nowadays, most people I know would rather send text messages for everything, including breaking up. How ridiculous is that? I believe in face-to-face communication. I believe in listening. I like the quotation I once heard that said we have two ears and one mouth and that we should use them in proportion!
What are you proudest of?
I'm proudest of the fact that I came from a community where it was predicted that I wouldn't live past the age of 15 and that I made something of myself.
Who is your hero?
My parents are my heroes. They are from the Congo (formerly Zaire). They survived Belgian colonialism, escaped war in the Congo (my mother was a refugee three times) and came to America where they earned nine academic degrees, including three PhDs (two from Harvard, where they also taught). They also did this while raising nine children in a new country where they did not speak the language. Shirley Chisholm said, "Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth." My parents taught us that lesson from a young age!
What is your biggest pet peeve?
My biggest pet peeve is being around people who try to hold me back or hold themselves back by not being big thinkers.
What would you like to learn to do?
I would like to learn how to build an institution that can really help make a positive impact in this world and be able to take care of my family at the same time.
What are you particularly bad at that your friends tease you about?
My friends and family tease me about always putting the work first. They say I have to make time for play and that I also have to build a strong business model. Sometimes, I admit, I do events for free or discounted prices because I just want to get my message out to motivate people. I have to be better at business, so I am hoping to find good mentors to help me with that! Thanks for reading my story OWN! Rock on!