When Jason lee entered the scene years ago, many thought he would just be another “here today, gone tomorrow” reality star. But over the past few years, Lee hasn’t just carved his own way, which has prompted a lot of people to dub him “the next one.” Wendy williamsâ- it is also recently made the headlines for walking away from a lucrative deal with Viacom.
This week the Stockton, Calif. Native sat down exclusively with leGrio to explain why he made the decision to give up what many would consider easy pay.
“I woke up one day and realized that the only value Viacom saw in me when they signed me up was destroying other black people, and that wasn’t what I wanted to do,” explains he simply does. âThey know the depth of my creativity, they’ve seen it, they’ve felt it, they’ve witnessed it when I talk about other issues, or interviews, or exclusives, or whatever. ‘other. They’ve seen the radio show, the podcast, they’ve seen the growth.
âThey’ve had plenty of opportunities to partner with me, but the only thing they want me to be is a cheerful, messy blogger. And I mean, I evolved way beyond this narrative. And so it’s unfortunate, but I think their perspective for me and other gay people is that we are a token of their conversations that only destroy our community.
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Lee also believes that more collaboration is needed in the community as a whole.
âI think if black people don’t continue to come together and collaborate on how to build more doors, the only doors that are going to open for whites in these networks will be the ones where they bring hungry people to their homes. big break. “, He explains, noting that contracts which pay talent according to the time spent in front of a screen, financially encourage black creatives to adopt a behavior which glorifies” the fight and the conflict “.
âThis is what they believe our whole community is interested in,â he opines. âAnd because we’ve endorsed it, it almost reaffirms them when they see the numbers that this is what this audience wants to see. Right?”
Property is the new black
Many were introduced to Lee during his three-season stint on VH1 Love and hip-hop: Hollywood and role of five seasons on Nick canonthe long-running hip hop improv show from Wild ‘n out. In 2015, he started his own media company, Hollywood unlocked, which went on to become a podcast, radio show and hugely successful Youtube channel with over 49 million views.
Now, the serial entrepreneur hopes to inspire other content creators to take more risks by creating their own platforms.
“No one can tell our stories like us,” says the host, who quotes celebrities as Floyd mayweather, Cardi B, and Tiffany haddish like close friends. “Nobody comes from the point of view and the point of view that we can, because we have lived it.”
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But he also notes that black A-listers need to be careful not to leave black media behind once they’ve entered the mainstream.
âThe black celebrities who follow our work need to stay engaged throughout. So if you’re going to do an interview with Essence when you’re in your Ascension or Hollywood Unlocked or the Shade Room or the Grio, you should do it right when you win your Oscar, you should do it right when you win your Grammy, you should do it correctly when you win your Golden Globe. We should always be a part of your journey.
“I took a stand when I didn’t have to,” he admits, discussing how the Black Lives Matter protests were sparked by the death of George floyd (and the current political climate) have had an impact on the way he does business.
âStepping away from a three-year network engagement, where my bills could have been paid for three more years by Viacom, should send a message that all money is not money. And it’s not an indictment against Mona Scott Young, or Viacom what they did for me personally, because I know what I signed up for. But I’m more and more aware that I’m smart enough to create other opportunities that don’t conflict with my personal interests.
When asked what this next chapter has in store for him, the 43-year-old media mogul who recently launched Sutter Street Productions concludes: “I just hope that I will continue to stay grounded in what is going on around me as much as I report what I saw. I want to continue to evolve as an executive producer. I want to continue to evolve as a show creator. I think there are no limits to creativity no matter who you are, no matter what you look like.
âIt’s not that there aren’t barriers built for you if you’re a person of color,â he concedes. “But I really feel like if you’ve got the drive, the determination, a strong work ethic, and just an overall passion to win, you’re going to figure out how to get there, like I did.”
Editor’s Note: The author of this article is a colleague of Jason Lee on Hollywood Unlocked Uncensored.
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