Entertainment, IN SEE Culture

LeBron James’ The Shop HBCU Tour to NC A&T Officially Airs on YouTube

The Shop: Uninterrupted saved the best for last, rolling out the Hollywood red carpet for its final HBCU tour to North Carolina A&T State University’s GHOE week.

The show, co-produced by LeBron James, is renowned for bringing celebrities, sports, entertainers, and other notables together for candid discussions. The Shop also made stops at Hampton University and Tennessee State University. The schools each possess a uniqueness in why they were selected for the tour. HBCU Sports noted that NC A&T is the nation’s largest HBCU by enrollment and produces many black engineers. The episode aired on December 8th on YouTube.

Free haircuts, t-shirts, interactive photographs, music, and hoops were all part of the amazing fan experience that Toyota USA, AT&T Dream in Black, and Twix sponsored for students, alums, and friends.

The Shop: Uninterrupted Fan Experience at NC A&T State University; Photo Credit: Tracey Morrison/The Exclusive Press

Pondering minds conjecture if LeBron James will take off in a private jet in between his busy schedule with the Lakers to visit Aggie Land. He may not stop by Aggie Land, but co-host Maverick Carter and co-creator Paul Rivera (Chief Marketing Officer of SpringHill Company) invited some astounding guests to the barbershop chair at Harrison Auditorium.

Actor Aldis Hodge, 2016 Olympian Bronze Medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad, and NC A&T’s alum stand-up comedian Darren “Big Baby” Brand were invited to the barbershop chair, delivering impactful conversations. The guests all have ties to North Carolina. Hodge was born in Onslow County, NC; Muhammad attended Duke University; and Brand is a Southern Pines native.

Brand, who had James with him in spirit (through a tattoo of the Lakers star on his leg), shared the family-oriented feeling of alma mater and the significance and more profound meaning behind HBCU homecoming.

Actor, Aldis Hodge and Comedian Darren “Big Baby” Brand greeting the crowd after the show’s tapping; Photo Credit: Tracey Morrison/The Exclusive Press

“When you’re from a small town, there aren’t many opportunities or things to inspire you to pursue such a career path. I come from a dysfunctional household with verbal and alcohol abuse. When I came to NC A&T, I got a sense of family. I got a sense of learning myself as a black man, being proud of being black because I feel like the only time of your life at a HBCU is the only time you celebrated being black in this world,” 

Darren Brand

He also discovered his passion at his beloved alma mater. He hosted his first dorm step-off for Aggie Fest, creating a pathway to level his gift of making people laugh. Brand shared that he performed on over 95% of all HBCU campuses nationwide. He also co-founded Freestyle Funny Comedy Show, hosted BET shows, and appeared in MTV’s Wild ‘n Out, to name a few.

The star guests shared engaging conversations about their remarkable career journeys, leading to their success. Muhammad, for instance, knew she had unfinished business outside the global stage. She believed in her potential and was determined to show what Muslim women could do. She has many accolades under her belt: being named Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2016, Mattel having Barbie in honor of her, being named the New York Times Best Seller for her 2019 book, The Proudest Blue, and being the face of Nike’s first ever pro hijab in 2017, to name a few.

She shared with the assembled crowd that God gives us a gift, and it’s up to us to figure it out, not pigeonhole ourselves into other people’s beliefs.

“You have the pen, and you get to write your own story. It doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. You don’t need anyone else’s permission. The only thing you have to do is show up for yourself every single day,” 

Ibtihaj Muhammed

Mohammed continued with her statement on the dedication it will take to pursue your passion, “not wasting time scrolling on social media while everybody else is chasing their dreams. You know you’re trying to get the next like (social media). No, like, really invest in yourself.”

Although they were successful in their field, they faced some challenges. Hodge, best known for his roles in Straight Outta Compton, Hidden Figures, and Leverage, who has been in the limelight since age 3, highlighted his challenge.

“Going through the business (entertainment industry), trying to grow at it, and trying to also figure out who you are through that—it’s a tough situation because you’re in an industry that tells you everything that makes you perfect is wrong.

Me coming up through this business dealing with trying to find myself (impostor syndrome and a full-on survivor mentality), it kind of shakes you up. It’s training for what you’re going through in the world, but you also got to figure out what choices were the good ones and what lessons to leave behind,” 

Aldis Hodge

The guest’s remarkable stories of defeating the odds were motivational—not allowing rejection, criticism, and doubt to deter them from elevating and achieving greatness on the highest level.

“You got to be a little crazy to believe your dreams are going to come true. You got to have faith, but you got to have a little bit of crazy that the “no’s” aren’t going to stop you,” 

Brand reflected on repeatedly auditioning for MTV’s Wild ‘n Out until he was told yes.

The Shop left its mark by delivering uninterrupted conversation, inspiring the crowd, especially for HBCUs, not being defined by rejections and limitations, and thriving on the greatness of black excellence.

Watch the video to view the full episode:

Full Episode of The Shop: Uninterrupted – HBCU Tour at North Carolina A&T State University; YouTube

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