For all that has been said about luck and timing, so much more has been said about preparation and perseverance when it comes to success. Another commonality we noticed among a lot of successful people is how they don’t wait for anybody to open the door for them; they open their own door and create their own path.
The 9 black influencers we have for you are prime examples of opening your own door. You might be familiar with most of these success stories, but we will be focusing on how it is that they created their own path in hopes of it inspiring you to create yours.
The mega media brand that is Tyler Perry was once a struggling playwright. He used his life savings to finance his first play at a community theater. The effort was not a financial success but he didn’t give up. He re-wrote the play many times over the next six years. You know the rest of the story.
Before she became everybody’s favorite awkward black girl, Issa was creating original content and sharing it on YouTube for years. She saw a missing image of black women she could relate to in mass media so she created one. Her successful web-series turned into an HBO hit.
What’s more of opening your own door than teaching yourself to read and becoming a prominent anti-slavery advocate as an ex-slave? That’s exactly what Frederick Douglass accomplished. He escaped slavery, became a minister and regular attended anti-slavery meetings. Douglass then began giving speeches about his experience as a slave and the importance of abolition. He was also a champion for women rights.
Chance the Rapper
There are many reasons to love Chance the Rapper. One of the reasons is that he did not wait to get signed to take the hip hop world by storm. He released Coloring Book on Apple Music exclusively for streaming only and it became the first release to chart on US Billboard 200 solely on streams. He is known for not selling his music. That’s how he created his own path.
Cathy Hughes founded Radio One back in 1980 by buying AM radio station WOL 1450 in Washington D.C. Before that, she worked in radio but wanted to own her own station. But the venture did not start out smoothly. She faced financially difficulties, lost her home, and was forced to live in the radio station with her son. Radio One went on to won 70 radio stations in nine major markets in the U.S. In 2004, Radio One launched TV One.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson
After a failed career in football in Canada, The Rock fell into a dark depression. Then he made the decision to go into the family business: wrestling. He turned to his father to train him and began entering wrestling competitions. Although wrestling has always been in his family, his father feared the worst for The Rock. But Dwayne knew he had to do it and maybe his path will be successful. And it was.
Jay-Z could not get a recording deal from any label when he started out. He sold CDs out of his car and partnered up with friends Damon Dash and Kareem Biggs to create Roc-A-Fella Records in 1995. He bet on himself and won! Now, Jay Z is more than a hip hop artist. He is an all around business mogul.
Mary McLeod Bethune
This humanitarian and civil rights activist was the first one to go to school in her family. Seeing how that changed her life, she wanted to do the same for young girls. But she didn’t have the funds to open a school. That didn’t stop her. She rented a small house for $11 a month in 1904, made benches and desks from discarded crates and started out with six students. That is how the Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls got started. The school later grew to become the Bethune-Cookman College, a coeducational college.
Nipsey made headways in the hip hop community long before he released his first album. How? By consistently releasing mixtapes that spoke to the loyal and small following he built over the years. Nobody came and handed Nipsey a record deal. By the time he released Victory Lap, he had already become a community activist, business man, and a philanthropist that inspired millions around the country to pursue ownership and growth. The marathon will forever continue.
Life wasn’t always jokes and laughter for Steve Harvey. He was homeless for multiple years when he was pursuing his career as a comedian. He sacrificed his fair share in order to open the door for himself.
We leave you with his inspirational speech below.