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What do Chinese food and an interview with Tyrese Gibson have in common? They both look good, smell good, leave you feeling satisfied, and an hour later you’re hungry for more. Really, the only difference is that Tyrese dispenses more wisdom than—oh, I don’t know—about a zillion fortune cookies.
If you ever find yourself trawling the Internet for video footage of Tyrese Gibson, you’ll inevitably find the Coca-Cola commercial that made him famous. In it Tyrese boards a bus wearing street clothes and headphones, dancing a little bit before he takes his seat and then, as he croons a melodic R&B version of the “Always Coca-Cola” jingle, he flashes a perfectly pristine smile, earning nods of approval and returned smiles from the other passengers.
Keep searching the web and you’ll find music videos, clips from his many movies, and dozens of interviews in which he (almost literally) charms the pants off his interviewers, articulately promoting whatever album, movie, or book he’s just finished working on. Look further still and you might come across a motivational speech he gave at an event for the 5 Million Kids organization. In this video he talks about his humble beginnings growing up in the city of Watts, California, and offers poignant anecdotes like the following:
“I was one of them kids … I was the brokest—the brokest there is. The hungriest. Never had new clothes, ever. Every day I went to school just so I could eat, and I was hoping that I didn’t lose my lunch ticket. [Here, the crowd of underprivileged youth laughs knowingly, and Tyrese smiles back at them before continuing.] Hungry, that was me. The difference in me, and a lot of people around me—I actually had a problem with that. I had a problem with being hungry.”
As charming as Tyrese is in the Coke commercial and in all his interviews, it was the 5 Million Kids video that made me anxious to interview him. I wanted to sit down with him, to get inside his head and find out exactly what drives him toward success. To say I looked forward to our interview is an understatement. I longed for it, yearned for it, needed it. I hungered for it the way zombies hunger for human brains, the way those laughing hyenas in The Lion King hunger for Simba’s tender young flesh! Sadly, between touring for his most recent album, Open Invitation (which, since its November 1st debut, has become Tyrese’s highest charting album to date), negotiating his contract for the sixth installment of The Fast and the Furious movie series, filming a music video for his latest single “Nothing on You,” and dealing with the success of his bestselling book, How to Get Out of Your Own Way, I was forced to bide my time.
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