More Life, More Laughs, & More Lessons From Rodney Perry

When I experienced the privilege of speaking with Actor and Comedian Rodney Perry, he told me he was coming back from a bike ride for exercise purposes. I said I was also riding a bike to a New York Fashion Week party because I was too cheap to ante up for car sharing service, he laughed at my real life situations, and I was proud I made well-known comedian laugh.

Written by: Atibia “Broadway” Williams

Not too long ago Rodney had a mild stroke, fortunately for his fans, the stroke wasn’t severe enough to affect his health long term, and to a lesser extent keep his genius from the stage, movie, and television for a prolonged period. Selfishly the already twenty years he has given us fans, is not enough. As Rodney sat in his hospital bed thinking about how much more he could have done, he dealt with the crossroads of clarity and mortality. Now fully recovered and re-charged and thankful for each and every opportunity post stroke. Furthermore, he renewed his focus on his health, career and being more present for his family. He is also more appreciative of moments and relishing the journey along the way.

With all the ailments of society that affect black men, it was another legendary comedian, Dave Chappelle who put it all into perspective, as he stated so eloquently and with an irreverent wit that only Chappelle can convey. “All manner of things kill white people, but you know what kills more black people than anything? More than police or terrorism? Salt, n… Regular-ass table salt.” Therefore, it is no wonder that Rodney’s presence is a blessing not just in comedy and the movie screen, but also to plenty of young actors and actresses in the Atlanta community.

Admittedly, years on the road as a working comedian, nutrition wasn’t Rodney’s focus. But now he hopes to not only continually maintain his health but also become an advocate for health for black men his age, older, and younger. Black people have always been exceptional in creating greatness from very few resources. It’s embedded in our food and traditions, traditions like hopping over the broom or creating food to build connections with our community and family. One of the reasons why we call it “soul food,” the food has great taste, and while maybe great for the soul, if not checked in consumption it has proven not to be so great for the human body. With that being said Rodney has the total support of his family and they’ve all decided to take the journey of changing their lifestyle as well.

Lifestyle change is as an integral to the continuation of Rodney’s impact amongst aspiring entertainers receiving the sleuth of knowledge spanning over a long career. After all, Rodney has to be alive to continue to bless his knowledge to those who will trek in the tough road of entertainment. As I referenced, Rodney has impacted the development of actors and actresses within the Atlanta community. Emerging star actress Gail Bean couldn’t thank Rodney enough for her development as an actress via his improv class “Never Deny Next Level.” Rodney’s approach to developing aspiring actors and actresses was unique primarily because he was teaching them according to his personal mantra, which is aligning choice with self-confidence. Rodney tells his students “the secret is to trust your choices, if you can trust your choices, you can be a quality individual and become stronger overall.” Individual development leads to career development, untraditional in concept but effective in approach.

The symmetry of Rodney’s thought process aligns with his success equating to his accession in the industry. Furthermore, his philosophy is one that anybody in any given field, can learn from. As Rodney states “It’s easy to get caught in the process of making it, success is in the journey, the journey is the real win.” As our conversation proceeded, it was almost like my days as an athlete having a coach instilling messages preparing me for battles on the field. Rodney delivered profound quote after quote stating “when you start just don’t quit, when you faced with the struggle, there are going to be moments when you’re completely alone. Just get ready, and don’t be a punk.” “Pressure can either burst pipes or create a diamond.”As we say in the rap world “bars son” or as DJ Khaled would say this a “Major Key” to relevancy. In Rodney Perry’s case, his pursuit of his objective is never to feel like he has arrived, to him there’s always so much more to learn, and you should always want to elevate your game. A devotion to a craft that he laid for himself when he first witnessed Eddie Murphy on television communicating his art form of comedic platforms such as Saturday Night Live and his two famous comedic specials Delirious and Raw.

Rodney is happy, but far from comfortable, his approach on his journey to even more success is to place one foot in front of the other, respect the process is something that Rodney firmly believes in. There’s a quote in the entertainment field, where it states” it takes ten years to become an overnight success.” Although this is concept perhaps true, Rodney is also well aware of the impact of social media and the emergence of 60-second comedic skits. He applauds the younger generation of taking advantage of technology and expanding their platform.

When he and other comedians were coming up it was a fight to be on television, opportunities were so rare, that once a comedian was in front of that camera, they better make sure they bring the house down. To finally display comedic gifts crafting and honing skills for years before being on that television screen in front of millions of people, there was a point to prove that hard work has earned me the right to be here. Today’s medium is instant with at first vine, and now Instagram, the game has changed, but the rules of discipline and respecting the craft to be a standup comedian has always remained the same. Approach the process one foot in front of the other, thank you, Rodney Perry, for reminding us of that lesson.

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