We were first introduced to Terrence J as he fought to become the newest host on BET’s popular countdown show, 106 & Park. Fast forward, the North Carolina native has matured into a businessman, fun-loving television personality and respected actor. With anticipation mounting for his most recent silver screen role in Steve Harvey’s upcoming film Think Like A Man, VIBE snagged him for a one-day takeover. We sat down and chopped it up with the rising star about everything from his future plans (post-106) and who he deems the hottest MC’s to his funniest moments on-set and the state of the youth. –Niki McGloster
VIBE: Recently you were on Twitter just talking how awesome your life is, which is great, but what’s been a hard thing about this business? Tell me about those moments and how you got to a space of clarity and happiness.
Terrence J: I think early on in anybody’s career, you’re going to get turned down a lot. One or two things are going to happen: either you’re going to be deterred from following your dreams or you’re gonna develop a thick skin, so I’ve developed a really thick skin. I have a really high tolerance of being told no and being rejected, so for me, now I’ve become kind of auto immune to it. It doesn’t phase me any bit because I know what my value is and I know my worth. I just keep on going after my dreams no matter what.
Yes. A moment where you didn’t face rejection was for 106 & Park. You’re like 7 years in the game right now?
As you move into new projects, there’s going to come a time when you’re not gonna be on 106 anymore. What does it feel like to know someone is gunning for your spot?
Well I’m a producer on the show, so the good thing is it’s in my hands already. It’s like coaching while playing basketball at the same time. It’s not that same pressure, same fear. I can’t wait for the day to be able to bring in that next new person, find that new person whenever that may be, but right now, I’m in a great place with BET and when it’s time for that, we’ll take it when it comes. I’m always telling young people, Make sure you always empower yourself. Never have yourself in a position where, ‘I’m scared I’m gonna lose my job.’ The one best thing about waking up in the morning is I have no fear of losing a job ’cause when I do, I have ownership. I’m part of the creative process, so it becomes a different beast and you take ownership of what you’re doing.
Make sure to interwine yourself into the business of what you’re doing.
Absolutely. If you’re a young guy playing football, start making those relationships with the head office or making those relationships with the broadcasters so that if you have the most successful career in the world or the shortest career in the world, you have life after. If you’re on the broadcasting side in front of the cameras, make sure you have those relationships with the hierarchy so that when your time comes, life is all about progression. If you’re lucky, you grow. And if you’re real lucky, you grow old. Regardless of what you do, make sure you take pride in it and build relationships so that you have life after no matter where you work. Regardless of what you’re doing, there’s always gonna be a growth and a trajectory, and you’re gonna have to move forward.
Currently, you’re working with kids every day, so what do you think of the state of the youth right now?
I’m not 30 yet, so I see myself as part of the youth [laughs]. You know, I think it’s a split. They’re using technology that we never got to use through social media, computers, through all the gadgets, they’re using technology at a very young age so, there’s going to be a profound sense of how to use it and how to make money off of it and profit off of it in the years to come. After fiddling with Twitter and playing with their games now, that same process is going to help them make money later on and to rule the world. So, I’m excited [for the youth] because the youth is a lot smarter than people give them credit for.
What scares me is situations like Trayvon Martin, what we’re dealing with now, the sense of racial profiling. What’s happening is the young generation and the younger they get, the harder it is for them to understand what racial profiling is and what a segregated America is, because they didn’t have to deal with it as much. I was raised in the ‘80s, and I was kinda on the tail end of it, being really blatant America. If you was in the ‘60s, then you would really know what it was like to do things in this country. You know, now we have a Black president and they’re seeing things as equality, but there’s still race topics of America, like what we happened with the Jena 6 and this Trayvon Martin case; we’re still seeing that. Racism is very much alive and how they maneuver in those territories is what concerns me, but hopefully things will work out the way they need to.
You feel like the race relations is going to be the biggest hurdle. That’s basically what you’re saying?
Yeah, I mean the thing is I know the Boogeyman in the closet. I know what it feels like to get arrested, to be handcuffed. I went to college in North Carolina, so I’ve had to deal with things in my life that had prepared me so when these types of issues happen, I can identify them right away. Now if you’re growing up in it, it’s a different world, it’s a different society. We have a Black president; we can’t expect them to understand what it’s like to be sprayed by a water hose.
There’s a definite gap in understanding.
Exactly. And as the media and everything makes it look more equal, the gap becomes larger and larger, and I just want to make sure that they know that all of our work is still not done.
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