Many of us know stars and celebrities from the silver screen to our own laptops, but how often do you ever wonder “what else do they do outside of their entertainment careers?”
Maybe you wonder, maybe you don’t. Regardless, some of our stars are out there working on behalf of the people.
One such character is the illustrious Jéan Elie, who portrays “Ahmal” on the the hit HBO show, Insecure. Much like Ahmal, he’s serious but with a big heart for helping others. In true “WE GOT Y’ALL” fashion, he is doing some amazing community work to build up Black students across the nation.
Jéan, I know this interview is about your non-profit work, BUT the fans really want to know what it’s like for you to portray a queer Black character on Insecure?
Shout out to the fans, but the fans got to wait a little longer for that insight. However, working on the show is great, mainly because I’ve been a fan of the show before I started working with them in the second season. I mean… Issa is a pioneer, and the crew is very talented. I was lightweight intimidate by everyone on the first day of filming, but they all made me feel welcomed in the end.
What is your life like off-set? What are some of your hobbies?
When I’m not on set, some of my hobbies are writing, photography, and working with the youth. Many people don’t know this about me, but I’m an amateur gymnast!
Talk a little bit about your non-profit work with CBMLA.
Concerned Black Men (CBMLA) has chapters throughout the US and I work with the L.A. chapter. I got involved with the organization last year with a friend who had just started working with them. From there he started the Emerging Leaders program within CBMLA. He and I began to work with a lot of young leaders who come from a myriad of areas (Inglewood, Compton, South Central, etc.)
Our goal is to teach kids everything they need to be successful. Starting from establishing their presence professionally to being a positive impact on their communities. We take them on developmental trips to show that there are more options besides rapping, sports, and entertainment.
Last year was my first year working with the organization and the experience I’ve had there has been richly rewarding. We were able to take them on their first plane ride from LA to San Francisco and man, just seeing their faces light up with excitement….the moment was priceless.
This year we want to take them on a college tour to show them how tangible going to college can be despite any of their circumstances. We plan to school them on the different ways they can pursue a higher education with little to no money by having them speak with students who share the same background.
What are some of the planned highlights for the college tour?
Well, we plan on stopping at Stanford, UC Berkley, UC Santa Barbara, and the University of San Francisco. Our plan is to meet with students, faculty, and administrators of color at these sites and have our students have a candid conversation about campus life, how to secure scholarships and whatever else they may want or need to know to go to college. The goal is to let them know THEIR DREAMS ARE POSSIBLE.
How can we get involved in supporting the work?
The best way to get involved is with a donation to the Crowdrise page we’ve set up for CBMLA College tour. Thus far, we’ve raised $3320 toward our goal of $8500. Now with your help and donations, we can take 12-15 kids on a college tour in Northern California for the four days, which will cover food, lodging, and transportation.
For more information on Jéan Elie and the work he is doing with CBMLA, be sure to follow up with the link at: http://bit.ly/CBMLACOLLEGETOU