Talk It Out with Jodi Leib
Helping Children learn the 1-2-3's of Money with Tyrese Gibson
Interview Produced by Bryan Howard
Special Thanks to: J. Knox and Eve Greene and Operation Hope
Taped in October 2003
Tyrese and the children of Grace Street Elementary, Watts, CA
Photos by Jodi Leib
Jodi: I'm here at the Grace Street Elementary School in Watts, CA to talk it out with Tyrese as he does some charity work with the kids at the school. It's beautiful what you're doing! Can you tell me about your project here?
Tyrese: The concept, the theme is Banking On Our Future. We're banking on the kids future. We're trying to instill in the kids things that possibly what their parents are not instilling in them, which is how to maintain your money and how to make use of your money in the best manner possible. These are the future CEOs of the country in every world. I'm the CEO of three different companies myself. The experience of meeting the kids was big for me, but the experience of meeting the teachers was even bigger for me because I was able to tell them, "You were once small. You were once a kid with a short attention span, who didn't focus, just hyper trying to flirt and do all of the wrong things in school, and you were caught up in all of the wrong things." I just recognized the tolerance and the patience that a lot of teachers have and I just wanted to encourage them and recharge their batteries to go out and keep on being the best teachers that they know how to be towards kids. Because just like me, this is the elementary school I went to, and my teacher didn't even remember me, which is fine, because she deals with a lot of kids, but it never amazes me how teachers...you just never know who you're teaching. You know what I mean? You never know who the future of who your students are going to be. There's going to be two things that can happen. They're going to come back and they're going to appreciate you for being the teacher who kept them after school trying to actually go out of your way to mentor them and show them just life skills, or they'll come back and say, "I hate you, because you made my elementary experience the worst experience ever." So, I just wanted to recharge the batteries of the teachers and just encourage them to have more patience and a higher tolerance for the hyper and big energy that the kids are giving them, and just realize that what they're here to do is much bigger than themselves. They're doing God's work. Show one, teach one.
Jodi: How did you come to decide this is what you wanted to do with your time?
Tyrese: I didn't really come to it myself. It was a seed that God planted in me. To be honest, although this is a very luxurious truck we're in with a bunch of suede around, I won't be remembered for this truck. I just won't. When it's all said and done, when they stop calling Tyrese's name, on whatever level, I want them to remember that while I had it, I made a difference in other people's lives other than my own. Because I'm comfortable, I love my life, why not try and make a difference in someone else's life? When I was in elementary, if a star like myself would have came to the school, it would have touched my life forever. It would be something I would never, ever, ever forget. You know? The first celebrity I ever met was Ton Loc. It changed my life. Wow! Ton Loc was in Watts. As much as these teachers can go in front of the class and say, "Tyrese went to this school!" They're not going to believe the teachers until Tyrese actually comes to the school. So, I'm here. I know the effect that I have on people. I've been to plenty of schools, and I know how much of a difference I can make, and why not want to do something like that with your life?
Jodi: That's so beautiful! If you can share your knowledge with the rock-n-roll and the hip-hop and the music community, what would be some words of wisdom you can offer adults out there also struggling to make it, starving young artists, people who don't maybe know their financing ABCs as well.
Tyrese: The best advise I can give to anybody who is looking to do anything with their life is make sure you surround yourself with people who do what you're trying to do. The day that you decide you don't want to do it anymore, you'll always be encouraged because somebody is on your level. They're on the same page as you. It's one thing to struggle alone, it's another thing to have a partner and struggle, because you're able to help each other and encourage each other to keep it going, because there's a much bigger picture out there and you just need to stay together and work hard at it. Lawyers shouldn't hang out with doctors. Doctors should hang out with singers, because they're in two different zones. They've got to hang around people that when they go to lunch they can let each other in on stories and help them out and give them short cuts. Musicians should hang out with musicians.
Jodi: I do and that's why I'm an artist and I interview other artists. We share the same philosophies. Like you, I am attracted to people who are also trying to benefit the world. That's why I Talk It Out with musicians so that you can share with the people what you're up to here. It's a way to view all these different amazing artists doing all these really cool things in the world and to keep that communication open with the public.
Jodi: It's important what artists do. We're proving that. It's great and I thank you for it. Last question, was there a transition in your life that you made that turned you from what you called a "bad kid", someone who was really hyper to walking in the face of God?
Tyrese: That turnaround actually came from people always telling me what I can't have and what I'm not going to be. So as negative as that may seem, I think most people are inspired by what people tell them they can't have, because they want to prove them wrong. And that was me. I proved a whole lot of people wrong. I'm Tyrese. I'm a household name and it didn't come overnight. Most people never seen me getting here. Through God's seed that he passed on to me, I've been able to go after just that, it's something I never seen, I never asked for.
Jodi: I think what's great is that people saw you on MTV, they saw your face first. They came to know you visually and got your spirit and then they came to know you as a mature musician and artist. That's so cool. Thanks a lot for Talking It Out. It was a pleasure meeting you.
Tyrese: Thank you.
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Talk It Out with Jodi Leib's Tyrese Interview was taped in October 2003. Talk It Out (c) Jodi Leib, 2003. Reprint by Permission at firstname.lastname@example.org.