Comedian, actor and entrepreneur Steve Harvey truly embodies the adage to whom much is given, much is required. One of the hardest working people in show business, Harvey is the host of a self-titled Emmy award-winning daytime talk show and the long-running game show Family Feud. In addition to hosting and producing his nationally syndicated radio program The Steve Harvey Morning Show, Harvey is clearly reaping the benefits of his hard work and dedication to his craft. He loves enjoying the fruits of his labor, whether spending time with his wife Marjorie in one of his homes or experiencing something new, like an exotic vacation. Despite the ability to have anything his heart desires, Harvey’s greatest reward, he says, is seeing a kid’s face light up when he tells them their imagination is real.
“I don’t think small about anything,” says the former star of the sitcom The Steve Harvey Show. “I don’t care what it is. It makes no sense for me to get a house on the hill if I can’t tell somebody else how to get one. We need more of us to make it.”
Harvey recently sat before this year’s inaugural class of Coca-Cola’s Pay It Forward Academy to offer some words of encouragement. It’s the second time the 58-year-old Original King of Comedy and philanthropist has served as an ambassador for the entire program.
The no-nonsense, extroverted entertainer shared stories about his past working on an auto assembly line with Pay It Forward’s 22 participants. That’s where Harvey knew he had the gift of making people laugh. “Dreaming is more important than anything,” says Harvey. “Imagination is everything. It’s the preview to life’s coming attractions.”
Making solid eye contact with the participants and giving them advice unapologetically, Harvey explains why he takes pride in mentoring young men. “Manhood is hard,” says Harvey. “A boy without a male role model is like an explorer without a map. How do you get to manhood if another man don’t show you how to get there?”
Along with Pay It Forward, the best-selling author spearheaded other programs geared towards guiding young people down the right path. He developed Disney’s Dreamers Academy to promote career and vocational development. Harvey’s nonprofit, The Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation, hosts a four-day, three-night mentoring weekend for young men ages 13-18 years old. His wife produces a similar program for young women through her initiative, Girls Who Rule the World.
A lover of community, Harvey and his manager, Rushion McDonald, created the Neighborhood Awards (formerly the Hoodie Awards) to celebrate local individuals, businesses and organizations making a positive impact in their local communities. Using countless analogies and gut-busting anecdotes to further illustrate his points, Harvey believes the Pay It Forward program is one of several solutions that helps build youth’s confidence. He reiterates pursuing goals, further encouraging young people to apply their knowledge towards any endeavors they take on.
“I try to tell them something that they not gonna tell ‘em in church and that they cannot tell them at school,” asserts Harvey. “Schools do not teach you how to become successful. All you have to do is think different.”
A native of Cleveland, Harvey, a multiple NAACP Image award winner, learned the value of serving others from his mother, a Sunday school teacher. Having ongoing fame and success is what inspires the sharp dressed funny man to continue reaching back. “God blesses you to become a blessing,” says Harvey, the 2011 recipient of the BET award for “Humanitarian of the Year.” “The more people you help become successful, the more successful you become.”
“If I help a young person get his life together, when I go to God for my request, he hears me better.” Harvey seeks his personal mentorship and spiritual guidance from reading self-help literature and having ongoing conversations with Bishop T.D. Jakes. “We have real conversations without the mention of the scripture,” says Harvey. “We allow each other to be regular around each other.”
Being dedicated to his craft and having a strong work ethic are what help Harvey define his purpose. He is anticipating the release of a line of bacon and sausage in October. Harvey is also in talks to develop a primetime show with fellow comic and Emmy-winning daytime show host Ellen DeGeneres.
Harvey mentions time management as a key element for finding balance in his career. “I care about every single minute of the day,” he says. “If you like to sleep eight hours a day, you cannot be rich in the United States of America.” Another thing Harvey mentions that makes people successful is eliminating all drama and negative energy from their personal space.
“I removed all of the BS from my life,” says Harvey. “If you remove the BS from your life, you’ll be shocked at what you can accomplish.”
Harvey is extremely confident in how he breathes life into comedy, pointing out how his unique cadence has earned him a multimillion-dollar fortune. The common denominator between his stage persona and his philanthropic efforts is his selflessness. Grateful for all of his accomplishments and success, Harvey gives his praises to God for allowing him to be a vessel for his fans and the young people he cares so much about.
“God gotta use somebody to show off what he do,” says a tranquil Harvey. “God gotta show off his goodness and grace to somebody. All you have to do is volunteer.”
This post was written by Christopher A. Daniel, pop cultural critic and music editor for the Burton Wire. He is also contributing writer for Urban Lux Magazine and Blues & Soul Magazine. Follow Christopher @Journalistorian on Twitter.