KM – Tell us a little bit about growing up in Mt. Vernon, NY
Talent – Well I’m born and raised in the small, four square miles town of money earnin’ Mt. Vernon, NY. I will say this: growing up there was the absolute best; I wouldn’t trade in my childhood for any other one. We had the great fusion luxury of being suburban and yet were so close to the City/Burroughs; something that later would come in super handy. But as youth, we always had folks before us to look up to and say wow they came from here???? So that little piece of inspiration really went a long way, especially if you had entertainment in your blood. Remember this: I got to come up with HEAVY D in my wood shop class, PETE ROCK, CL SMOOTH & AL B SURE. JUST CRAZY!!!!!
KM – How did you come up with the name Talent?
Talent – I came up with my name in high school… I was into my art heavy and even my graffiti. But when I needed a name, my cool hip hop name didn’t fit all my talents. No pun intended. I was into football, basketball, swimming, drawing, rapping & DJing. Being the class clown, as well as the neighborhood snapper, I went through a hundred of names til I settled on TALENT T
Lol . Back then you put your initial on the end of your name like JAZZY T or TRICKY T lol
KM – At what point in your life did you decide you wanted to be an entertainer?
Talent – Well I was part of a rap group called the Money Earning Crew. We were right on the heels of Heavy D and the Boyz, but signed a deal with BBoy Records. That company released KRS-One’s Criminal Minded. One of the heads of the label took all the label dough and left the country, so all the acts were left stuck to a contract with a broke label. KRS-One had a hot cd so he was able to get a major like JIVE buy him from them for big bucks. We were stuck legally for years, and even before this, my plan was to do music & retire into comedy (had no idea you made a living from it).
KM – Who or what do you use for inspiration?
Talent – Well I use various folks from various art forms, probably because you see a little of what you have come from, gone against and accomplished in all of these people. Richard Pryor, Bernie Mack, Morgan Freeman, Michael Jackson, Christina Aguilera along with others. My main inspiration is our people’s struggle as a whole. I use that because it continues today in a slightly different form. It’s just more political & corporate, you know?
KM — Talent, it seems like you have been ahead of the game since the mid-90s; you have been a rapper, a comedian, and also starred in Sunset Park—a basketball film, which was filmed in 1996. How did that make you feel? What did it do for your career?
Well, the movie, Sunset Park, still continues to do things for a brother. I went on to work on nine more projects because of it and made limitless connections in the industry and continue to do so. I have been blessed to be in a position to handpick the projects now and become probably the best standup out here today. I work super hard for this, for this is my end game goal. Some cats want the TV shows more, some the movies more. To me, I don’t knock those things at all; they are actually pretty cool, but they just aren’t my primary focus. I know that I’m a beast on that stage, and my goal is to make every single one of you guys out there know it, too. Hands down! It’s sorta like when Prince tickets go on sale in advance and sell out in an hour. I want that!
KM – What are you currently working on?
Well, I’ve been a business-minded dude from day one, and my current state of mind is just that. I’m in the middle of a five-comedy club plan: the first one opened 3 years ago in Buffalo, NY, called the Pryor Room. Philly, Charlotte, Mt. Vernon, and Atlanta are up next. I don’t doubt with my connections that this will instantly turn into ten clubs…then 20 clubs. How I came to this place is straight business. I managed and ran other folks’ clubs since the beginning of my 20+ year career, and when I sat down and did the numbers, I almost passed out at the amount of money I made other people! Wow! On top of the straight business part of things, I have my own management company, promotions company, and film and music company. We are finally ready to shoot four projects in the next two years: first up is my 1 hour special, and I can’t wait. And of course, I stay on the road touring to stay sharp.
KM — What advice would you give aspiring artists, actors, comedians, or anyone that has a vision?
Talent — Well, I would first take off the sugar drawers lol…meaning, people often give you the easy info of what to do when I would give the worst first to see if you still have it in you to pursue what it is you want. I recently had to post and blast folks out for not being built for some shit like comedy. This is not easy, nor is any art form. Hence why this shit is called art; hence why everyone can’t do it! Regardless if you are in an audience and like it and say “I’m gonna do that”. Don’t do it because you saw someone else and liked them doin’ it. It has to be in you!!! Now, once you truly know you are built for whatever, it is, like if it’s comedy or any live performance skill, the biggest advice I can give you is STAY ON STAGE!!! You don’t stop rollerskating and go back; you will bust your ass hard! Lol
KM — What has been your most rewarding experience?
Talent — To me, it is the cats in the game that propelled me forward and the cats that in return, I propelled forward. The dopest circle of life in my genre of artistry, and it continues. Half the time you hear a Kevin Hart interview or a Mike Epps interview and you hear the name, “Talent”. Dope.