Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Model/Actor Thai Edwards: Reaping the Reward From Doing the Work

by Cyrus Webb

There are few people I know who work as hard as Thai Edwards. He's a model, fitness expert and actor that has been able to make a name for himself doing work that he loves---and the world is taking notice. We first connected about 6 years ago. We both finished 2019 on a high note, with my celebrating now 16 years of hosting Conversations LIVE the radio show and him landing a role on the hit show SISTAS on BET and winning Actor of the Year at the Mayan Industry Awards. In this chat we discuss his career, the year that is 2019 and what it's been like to see all the hard work pay off.

You and I had a chance to sit down when we were in Los Angeles recently for an episode of Cyrus Webb Presents. It goes without saying you've had a very busy 2019. What has it been like for you to reflect on this year and all the great things that have happened for you?
You know what? It's funny you say that, because I've been in LA 12 years. I've just been working. Working with my head down. I really can't stop to appreciate all the things that have been happening. It was just recently when I took a step back and was like, 'Wait a minute. You really are doing this thing, and you're doing it in a really big way.' So, it's been a journey, man. It's been a journey. I'm blessed.

You definitely have been blessed, and you are an example for a lot of different reasons. One, I think the resilience that you've been able to have. The consistency is definitely important. But I think what I found out, and you and I had talked about already before, is that you have not always had an easy. You've gone through your challenges. You've gone through your dark spots. I guess an obvious question would be for people out there that are just now getting to know more about your story is what do you think kept you from giving up? 
It's the fear of failure that has been something that always frightened me. When you've been told that you weren't going to be anything or you know, everybody always counting you out, the thing that resonated with me the most is proving them wrong. Even in my darkest hour I've overcome so much in my life. How could I give up now? So I just keep pushing and that's pretty much what it is, man. I'm not comfortable with just being okay. I wanted to be better than okay, I deserve a good life. In spite of all that I've gone through and conquered. Now that I've met the finish line I might as well cross it. That's my mindset.

And I think along the way you've been able to build this amazing tribe around yourself. Of course people online have gotten to know you, and a big part of what you've been able to do is to inspire and motivate. How important is that for you to be able to be yourself, to have fun, but also to let people know what they can do with their lives, too?
Man, at the end of the day it's about touching people and impacting people. I mean, although I love what I do: making movies, being on television. Above all I love being able to influence someone or make somebody else's day. Everybody is going through something, and you just never know what someone may need from you. The thing that I appreciate most and what I've been concentrating most on as far as my brand is getting a foothold in this industry. At the end of the day you have to be yourself, and no one is one way all the time.

Part of the double edge sword that you'd been a part of is social media, Thai. That's how you and I have stayed connected. That's how this conversation actually happened. You talk about the importance of keeping it real. What do you think has kept you grounded along the way?
I just don't know how to be anything other than authentic. I'm from Chicago, the south side of town. That's just the hood. I just can't find myself being anything other than me. If people don't like you for who you are, those are the people that aren't supposed to be in your life. I think also the older I get, the more I don't care about fitting in. I mean I've always stood out, but even more so the older you get you really just start developing and knowing who you are as an individual. And you don't need a lot of approval.

I thank God that I had a hard life, because I'm able to connect with so many people who find it hard, those trying to get through whatever they're going through. I don't look like none of the things that I told you about me. I'm okay, and if I can do it, you can do it too. So that's pretty much how I go about doing things, man. That's my goal. If I can touch somebody, if I can make someone smile, if I can make someone feel a certain way, I've done my job. That's a wonderful feeling to me.

Another big highlight for you this year was sharing the screen with Shamar Moore on the show S.W.A.T.  He did a great video on March 7th on your Instagram. You've done a lot of projects before S.W.A.T., but what was that experience like for you?
It's beyond words. There are still some people who see what I'm doing and don't understand. When I was there with Shamar it became real to them. For me to be there with him it was proof of what I am doing. He gave me a bunch of support. We had a really good time. I would love to do it again if they bring my character back. If they do it's going to be trouble. (smile)

When people do recognize you, when people do see you and recognize what you bring to the table, is that a form of validation of the path that you've on?
Absolutely. I don't ever do this for the notoriety or to get credit. I do it because I love acting. I love the job. I love being outside of my normal self, but when I get recognized for it, yeah,it feels good.

An obvious question would be with the buzz that you're getting this year, with all the great things happening with you, what does success look like for you now?
Man, you know what? I am so open. I am so open to whatever God has for me. I hope to do more acting and modeling. I really do want to start switching my gears on doing a whole lot more public speaking. I will be working on my book, on my life story. It's just so many things that I want to do. Everything I'm doing is all for people. It's for the community. I just want to be able to completely use my platform to go into whatever endeavor possible.

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