With the bombardment of one-dimensional depictions of Black men in mainstream media, The Come Up Crew‘s web-based reality series, The Come Up, is a refreshing change of pace.
Featuring five 30-something men, comedian Boogie B., handy-man Angelo Owens, actor/Hip-Hop artist Ozy Reigns, comedian/actor Trey Elliot, and motivational speaker/actor Himyo, grinding toward fame and fortune through entrepreneurship, ingenuity, authenticity and solidarity, The Come Up is poised to challenge how the lives of Black men are often portrayed in television and film.
Coined as a “docu-reality soap,” The Come Up follows the five leading men as they navigate through the struggle, drama, disappointment and elusive success that defines Hollywood. Viewers will also get a chance to see the effect their journeys have on their family, friends and romantic relationships along the way.
In the age of Russell Simmons‘ All Def Digital and Issa Raye‘s Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, success via the web is closer now than ever before. The internet continues to transform the way that we seek and digest entertainment and The Come Up Crew is right on the pulse, grabbing hold of the opportunity through an ambitious Indiegogo campaign and taking viewers along for the ride.
NewsOne asked these talented young men 5 questions to get to the heart of their goals, dreams and motivations.
NewsOne: Tell us about your project.
The Come Up Crew: With “The Come Up” we thought it would be cool to actually capture the rise of a celebrity. It’s never been done in this manner, so why not? Imagine Eddie Murphy right before Saturday Night Live in the ’80s. What were his daily activities? What was going through Jay-Z’s head months before he signed his Rocafella Records imprint under Def Jam in the ’90s? There’s been a building momentum within our clique for a few years now so we said, ‘Why not us?’
NewsOne: Black male entertainers are often thrust into stereotypical roles — thug, rapper, baller, criminal — that fit into mainstream America’s narrow perceptions of Black masculinity. How does “The Come Up” combat this imagery?
Himyo: “The Come Up” will combat this imagery by being able to convey the heart of the characters in a way that allows people to want to understand the circumstances that lead up to the character being a thug, criminal or whatever negative imagery that the writer is imposing onto the audience. It’s not that the roles are stereotypical. The “conscious choices” the actor makes in playing the character perpetuates the stereotype.
Ozy: With “The Come Up” we have a unique opportunity to let people in on who we really are as men. The more I think about it, it is a little pressure because we are representing a generation of Black men. We are all blessed to have made it out of the hood. A lot of our friends didn’t. We made different choices. Other races of men make bad choices and become materialistic thugs and criminals as well. Black men are the only race of men that these stereotypes seem to be used to define though. I prefer the term MC, but I am a rapper. I’m also an actor. I’m an artist and my creative process will be displayed on the show. I could have been anything else, but entrepreneurship through the entertainment industry is the road I chose.
Trey: When you look at television now, whether it’s sports, news, or music videos, our race is mostly what you see. A lot of the imagery is
negative, except sports. So if the real world puts us out there, Hollywood doesn’t have any other way of looking at us. There are great Black fathers, scientists, and teachers out there. In “The Come Up,” we are all mostly in the industry but we will show that we are more than African American brothers in the industry … None of us are thugs in real life. Ozy is a rapper, but he’s not what mainstream media portrays as a rapper. Angelo is an entrepreneur; Boogie is a comedian like myself and Himyo is a motivational speaker. So we will be shown in another light and change the image of the typical Black man.
Angelo: The men of “The Come Up” are young, gifted and talented. We are ambitious, respectful and well mannered. We are gentlemen, last of a dying breed. We are trendsetters trying to make a difference in this small world with big dreams. Among our individual goals we want to motivate others to follow there goals and demonstrate that the sky is truly the limit.
Boogie B: “The Come Up” combats negative imagery by showing the progression and positivity that a common goal and brotherhood can bring about.
Meet The Come Up Crew below:
NewsOne: There are those people who believe that an artist’s responsibility is only to his or her art. Do you all feel that you have a responsibility to the broader Black community to be “positive” representations of Blackness, or are complexity and authenticity more important?
The Come Up Crew: Our main responsibility is to be as authentic as possible. The biggest disservice we could do the Black community is to be fake and perpetuate images that are already over represented. There will be things that we go through that all kinds of people can relate to, not just Black people. The Come Up Crew refuses to be placed in a box within our individual careers and as a whole. Our goal is to not be classified as just another group of entertainers of Black men, but as a diverse and talented group of men first.
NewsOne: In Hollywood it’s often not who you know, but who knows you. How difficult has it been for five brothers to make connections in Tinseltown?
Himyo: I don’t think it is hard to make connections because this town is small. What I think is difficult is for people to be genuine:
Say what you mean and mean what you say. This town is built on false realities and EGO. So If you keep making your own way the connections will come to you. When they do, make sure you know and speak your TRUTH and don’t expect anything but mutual respect. #Makerelationshipsnotmoney
Ozy: Hollyweird is a funny place. I love it though. I came out here with a plan, which most people don’t. Within the crew, we are all good at networking in our own way. Trey is probably the best at meeting people, though. Working together I would say it’s been relatively easy meeting people who are making moves out here. I always say you have to “Help others help you.” I’m always working to make sure that my foundation is secure just in case I meet someone who wants to help me build something on top of it. The grind isn’t easy at all, but nothing worth getting is easy.
Trey: It’s easy for me to network. I’m actually the networking king. I’ve been blessed enough to be exposed in front of good people while performing who have become a fan of my work. This is networking foundation. It’s important to be cool and likable on stage, but its more
important to be likable off stage.
Angelo: It has not been difficult to make connections in Hollywood. Its difficult to get the attention of those connections and get them to see your vision. If you can get 20 seconds of an executive’s attention, you may have a chance. Within that 20 seconds, your words and sound must be chosen wisely and effectively.
Boogie B: It’s difficult in Hollywood because Hollywood is slow to accept new faces. But The Come Up Crew has the perfect combination of hard workers and socialites to accomplish anything.
NewsOne: Years from now, when you all are able to look back and say, ‘We came up,’ where will you be as a collective and as individuals?
Himyo: Since I am a student of Life I will always be on the “come up” seeking to live the fullest life possible and affecting the lives of those that I encounter with peace and happiness. I will be a modern day Dr. King, Malcolm X, Mahatma Ghandi, and Daisaku Ikeda all rolled into
ONE. I will be wealthy in mind, body and soul. As a collective, I envision us still being tight, cracking jokes and raising generations of family together on the estates that we own and operate.
Ozy: As a collective my only expectation is that we will all still be crew. I’ll always love these dudes. They can always call me for whatever and I better be able to call them for whatever. We will all be successful in our own right. I think we’ll look back and say we made something that we can be proud of — and did it like no one before or after. As an individual I’ll have a few successful films and albums out. A beautiful family and a piece of land somewhere. I’ll also know that I had a hand in the success of four deserving brothas and they had a hand in mine.
Trey: I don’t wanna have anything to do with these guys after the show. Lol…..naw we will always be down for each other and do “The Come Up” tours and maybe a film or television show together. Personally, I wanna have accomplished some movies and tv show series, as well as several comedy tours and specials.
Angelo: Because we know where we have come from, we know where we are going. We are spiritually in-tune and grounded individuals.
We will always be brothers. We are each others keeper. We know what broke feels like. We know what wealthy feels like, We know what
success looks like. We are seeking that feeling of success.
Boogie B: In 5 years, each member of The Come Up Crew will be at the top of their respective fields and continuing to impact the world with their talents, all while remaining steadfast friends and brothers.