Monday, November 20, 2017

Why I'm Willing to Forgive Kevin Hart...

I almost didn't read Kevin Hart's book "I Can't Make This Up" because of his recent infidelity scandal. I have been a die hard fan for a few years now, have even traveled out of country (OK, so it was just Buffalo, NY) to see his stand up show, and I'm definitely a follower of his social media profiles.

Eniko is a Jamaican girl (brap brap), so I was thrilled to learn more about her, about them as a couple, and live the hype Hollywood life through their photos, interviews, and Insta-stories. That's what they are there for, right? Our entertainment! I was 100% invested into the Kevin Hart story, and loved to see him hustling his book "I Can't Make This Up" earlier this year.

As a writer, and publisher, and urban cultural enthusiast, Kevin Hart hit all of my favourite things this year. He's a media mogul now, an author, he's a great actor, funny as hell, AND he has a Jamaican woman on his arm! What's not to love?

The cheating scandal. That's what.

It turned my stomach. I threw my hands in the air, and stomped my feet, like why, why whyyyyyy did he have to mess this up?! The great thing about following celebrities and entertainers so closely is that they bring so much access to their world. And if you're someone who follows the lifestyles of the rich and famous as a hobby (guilty!) then you know that the world is always full of clever antics, and great fashion, juicy stories, and good looking people.

And then they fall. Hard, usually.

They always fall. It's an inevitable part of the story, but a part you hope never happens to your favourites. There are the obvious ones that tumble and break our hearts, like Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, for example. There are the scumbags that we could care less about like Charlie Sheen or Harvey Weinstein. And then there's the in-between where, we love them, we see them...and we're concerned. Like Mariah Carey for example. Love her to pieces...but slightly concerned. Same with Kanye.

So when the news dropped, and that horribly tacky press conference with the chick Kevin messed with came out, and the corny interviews, and the lawyer, I was like...really, bruh? Like, REALLY? Her? All of the affection, and professional respect, and personal interest, and humour-craving, and time invested in this man was thrown out the window.

Yes, I took it that personally. Because I feel like when we invest in the career of entertainers over time, we genuinely become committed to their journey. I love to see them grow into their craft. Or branch out into another form of entertainment and excel. I love to see artists do well, and inspire others. Kevin Hart definitely inspired me!

When my friend and I went to check his What Now? tour in Buffalo, we were in awe. He performed his stand up routine in a stadium, he had an awesome digital display and lighting effects. It was funny: great storytelling about his life, and family. It was a real production! I was impressed. I was inspired, and I was cemented as a Kevin Hart fan.

The cheating scandal delayed me reading his book, however. I purchased the book as soon as it came out, but had to work my way through a few other books before reaching his on the list. So when I got there, it was like a disappointment that he even existed at that point.

Nonetheless, I read the book...and within minutes, and the initial pages, I was drawn into the story of Kevin and never looked back. It was an amazing read. I'm a sucker for biographies, and a notorious book-leaver (I'll read two pages, and forget about it forever if I'm not instantly intrigued...), and this book got me.

It was great!

Not as a fan, but as someone who studies life. And experiences. Someone who loves the story of a good journey, lessons learned, and artists defying the odds to "make it big." This story had all the elements of my favourite type of tale, and I couldn't put it down!

The more I read, the more I shared with friends, as I took Kevin's lessons and anecdotes, and related them to other scenarios. The more I read, the more I gained respect for Kevin, learning about his journey and hardships. The more I read, the more I appreciated his honesty as he told it exactly like it was, and had nothing to hide.

In fact, Kevin was so forthcoming with the skeletons in his closet, that it was actually endearing. I'm surprised he even admitted some of the things that he did...but he did. I had to respect that.

I found myself highlighting passages in the book. Quotes, and thoughts, and many helpful sentences that I knew would help ME through my own personal travels. I found myself being motivated, and getting ideas, and brainstorming, and thinking about great things, as a result of reading HIS story. I was moved. I was happy for him. I was sympathetic.

And even though the book ended just before the scandal the time I finished reading the book, and celebrated the successes outlined in the story, it was hard to stay angry at this stranger Kevin Hart. Although he doesn't know me, and my opinion literally means nothing in the grand scheme of his career...I'd like to believe that I probably represent many fans and followers of this man.

I do believe that he has millions of fans that he brings joy to on a regular basis...and I do believe a good portion of them were disappointed when we found out that he had allegedly messed around on his pregnant wife, Eniko. The internet dialogue was heated, and thick with disgust and reactions similar to my initial one. WHY? WHY NOW?

It seemed like he had built up a great success story, and now was going to have it all lost over some tacky female. It didn't seem like a valid way for his story to end. It wasn't fair. Not to Eniko, and not to the fans that held them both on a great pedestal. I truly believed that it might be the end of his reign.

Described as "an inspirational life story and road map to achieving your dreams"...I think the book almost prepared me to deal with his scandal as well. It reminded me that although the path is set out, and your heart is in the right place...that things don't always go as planned. Even if you're the one that messes it up.

In the book he mentioned:"trusting your gut in situations where your logic contradicts you is terrifying--especially the first time you do it--but it's always the right move." My gut instinct, after reading this book was that Kevin is still a good guy. He means well. He messed up (big time) and embarrassed his family...but he still had many other redeeming qualities. One of which was the art of storytelling.

Through his story, from childhood, to the discipline of his late mother, the crazy antics of his drug-addicted father, as well as tales from his friendships, jobs, his marriage to Torrei, his children, and navigating the stand-up comedy scene...the theme of perseverance and hard work and faith ring strong. Themes that will help anyone, regardless of their personal journey. His lessons are easily transferable, and his life and blessings are a great testament to the fact that they worked. And will work.

He made an excellent point in trusting life. He said, "There is a flow to life, and all you have to do is make the decisions to follow that current--even if it seems to be carrying you away from everyone around you."

The book is filled with great statements, and great philosophies for understanding life, and following your own destiny.

And what more do we want from a fellow like Kevin, who worked hard, and made us laugh, and gave back to the world in his own unique ways? What more can we ask, than for words of wisdom, and a look into his personal life to see how he managed to gain success in an unconventional field of work?

He shared his story. That was enough.

It sucks if the scandal is true, and I never followed up enough to see what the outcome was. All I know is that somehow, the world is overflowing with ridiculously negative energy, and commentary, and actions, and revelations all around us. From politics to local news, there's always something going down...and when I looked at the bigger picture, I realized that Kevin's sex life is really not my concern. Or anyone's. That's up to him and Eniko to work out...and I imagine, they already have.

So if Kevin's negative press is stopping you from reading this book, like it almost stopped me...I encourage you to pick it up anyhow. It's worth it, and actually adds great context to his life...and life is general. Shit happens. I'm not justifying his actions, or anything of the sort...but I think at the end of his days he'll be able to look back at his life as a whole, and hopefully this would have been one minor indiscretion against a world of greater deeds for society.

The book is awesome. Filled with great stories, sad moments, and wonderful victories. It's one of the best autobiographies I've read to date...and I've read a lot of autobiographies in my day. I wish Kevin nothing but the best as he continues to walk through fame and public scrutiny...and if we've learned anything over these past few months of news and's that life is long. And what's done in the dark eventually comes to the light. I am currently waiting patiently for the White House drama to come to a satisfying end.

For his sake, at least this is out and done, and he can move on. And I hope this serves as a lesson to many, who continue to watch the news and see as MANY careers across disciplines are being ruined by negative actions of their past. It's not worth it. Hopefully Kevin now realizes the importance of living clean, and continuing to put GOOD energy out there. God knows, in the current state of the world, we need all the positivity and laughter that we can get. Which is why I will continue to be a fan of his. I have faith that he too, will learn the best course to follow to sustain his already thriving career.

Good luck, Kevin. I don't believe you came this far to stop now!

Written by Stacey Marie Robinson, for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.