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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Actor finds purpose in helping urban youth

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More than 7 million people tuned in to BET to watch the season premier of the popular TV show “The Game.” Hungry fans rallied together and lobbied TV execs to see Melanie Barnett Davis, Derwin Davis, Jason and Kelly Pitts, Tasha Mack, and Malik Wright back in their living rooms.

Hosea Chanchez stars as Malik, who many know and love for his selfish humor, charisma and über-lavish lifestyle.

(Fortunately) Chanchez is nothing like the brash, but sweet character he plays on TV. Born in Montgomery, Ala., Chanchez realized that he wanted to become an actor at age 10. Upon completing high school, he headed to California to pursue his drama dreams but was met with the typical acting roadblocks. Instead of giving up, he honed his craft, found an agent and saw his passion for acting come to fruition.

Chanchez worked hard to get to where he is today, but realized today’s youth need help with fulfilling their goals and dreams. After “The Game” ended on its original network, the CW, after three seasons, Chanchez started his own not-for-profit organization, Watch Me Win Inc.

Watch Me Win is dedicated to enriching the lives of urban youth through mentorship, leadership development, encouragement and empowerment. Through this program, Chanchez hopes to teach and encourage the youth of America to live life above the current trends and to experience a life of purpose, fearlessness and faith.

The Recorder recently talked with Chanchez to learn more about his character and most importantly, his commitment to youth.

Recorder: When you got the part of “Malik,” what did you think of your character?

Hosea Chanchez: As an actor, I try not to judge the character. As long as the character reflects society, it’s your job to shine a light on that. I thought it would be really fun to do. It was a little close to home in the beginning because of the single mom thing. I could relate to that. Then adding Wendy (Raquel Robinson) to the equation, she reminds me so much of my mom when I was younger and the relationship with the character and his mom was more of like a brother/sister relationship.

Originally, I thought he was a butt-hole (Laughs). I thought he was really somebody I probably wouldn’t be friends with, that’s for sure.

People are excited that the show is back on TV. How has the show evolved from the first three seasons?

We as a cast have all changed and we all are at different places in our lives. Coming off of a cancellation, it’s almost like a death in a way that there’s something that you’re used to experiencing every day and then it’s gone.

The writing has changed a lot, too. When you’re dealing with bringing a show back to where it was, you don’t have many choices. Our show was really prominent in current television, with “The Game” being in syndication on BET, so we weren’t too far gone. It would have been a disservice to the audience to bring the show back and pick up exactly where we left off because we all changed so much. It wouldn’t have been authentic.

Everything has changed when you’re dealing with the root of it and the art if it … even the audience has changed. Before the show was being funneled through the eyes of the network; now it’s being funneled by the eyes of the producers and executives who believe in the show.

After the show ended, why’d you decide to use your time forming a not-for-profit organization?

I’m a little bit of a shy person and I hate talking about myself during interviews. I wanted to use what God blessed me with and help someone else. I thought about it, I fasted, I did everything I could to come up with something I could do to advert some of this from me.

I thought about it and Watch Me Win was born. It was something I had journaled about – not this particular thing – but about issues in the world, things I had problems with as a kid. What I came up with was the curriculum for the program, then the name, then all the other pieces came together.

For me, just being an actor was never enough. I don’t believe God created anybody just to stand in front of a camera and read lines. I had to find something that allowed me to have a purpose in this business and grow as a man. Acting is my passion and Watch Me Win is my purpose.

Tell me about the program.

It’s an empowerment program and we meet children where they are in life. It deals with the mind – once you can overcome anything mentally, you can overcome anything physically. It’s all about how you see yourself.

We use people in pop culture to teach lessons. I use people like Beyonce as an example. She’s one of the most recognized women on the planet, but the first thing the media does is talk about her hair or what’s missing. They don’t talk about how she and her husband are one of the most influential couples in the world. They don’t talk about how she gives millions of dollars away to help others. They don’t talk about how she’s an African-American and is the third most photographed person in the world. That speaks multitudes for Black culture and how far women have come. I use those examples to help kids decipher the bull from reality and how to decipher the good and bad in their lives and overcome it.

The mind is the only thing keeping you down. Growing up in Alabama, I was told there was a white man on my shoulders. I figured out in my mid-20s there is no white man on my shoulder, there is no conspiracy against me. The world is designed for the betterment of humanity. These are principles that if you learn them, you can be successful in finding purpose in life.

Have the kids taught you any lessons?

The thing that I’ve learned most is how to listen and how not to judge. As a society, we’re so judgmental of their reality, this is their “good ol’ days.” We have to stoop down to their level and help them evolve.

Drawing from your experience with the kids in your program, what is it that today’s kids really need?

It’s really simple, empowerment. Once you empower a child, I don’t have to tell them to go to school because that empowerment will give you the will to go to school and your goals in life will show you that you need education to fulfill those goals. Lack of empowerment is what our kids suffer from.

For more information, visit www.watchmewin.org.

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