By Moni Pearson
Grant For Mayor (Rodney “Red” Grant)
DCL: When did you realize that you wanted to enter the world of politics? What inspired you Grant to run for Mayor of DC?
Red Grant: I made the decision to run for Mayor of Washington, DC 3 years ago. Politics should encompass humanitarianism and serve the people. I’m a humanitarian and not a politician. That mission gets misconstrued often. Many people think of themselves instead of the residents in our communities.
DCL: Tell us about your mantra: “Purpose over Popularity”
Red Grant: So many people focus on popularity (especially in the social media age) and not their purpose in life. I’ve been famous for a long time. I had a super successful career in stand up comedy, film, and tv production. When I started to serve the community, it made me understand that my purpose was way more important than popularity. Everyone can’t handle fame and it can be very detrimental to a person’s life. We see people become famous all the time and how they lose track of where they’re going and where God is leading them. My purpose on Earth is to serve my community, make them feel better, make them happier, understand what they’re going through, and help them with their situations. It should be something we all focus on more. Purpose over popularity.
DCL: Was there ever a time during this journey where popularity was more important to you?
Red Grant: I think we all fall into that trap sometimes where popularity can make us feel like we’re bigger than the moments. God will bring you back to reality through understanding. He will put something in front of you to make you pay attention to why you are who you are. I’d be lying if I told you that never happened to me. If we’re smart enough to recognize and stand on those lessons it’s very beneficial. I don’t want to be one of those individuals waking up to please everybody. I wake up to please God first. I’ve seen a lot of things culturally good and bad. It pains me to know how powerful we would be if we came together as a community.
DCL: I read how you want to bring people’s spirits to another level by uniting DC again and that your campaign is based on “Love”. Can you elaborate on this?
Red Grant: I stand on love, care, and respect – first and foremost. If we have more of this in our society and city, we can come together and put our differences to the side. We have a lot of similarities and we should focus on those more and unite everyone. I stand on the mantra of unity. I don’t fall into right or left wing thinking. I’m using my position to heal and unite people. I’m running as an independent because I refuse to get caught up into party politics.
DCL: Do you think partisan politics are productive or counter-productive?
Red Grant: It’s definitely counter-productive if used improperly. I’ve been a registered Democrat most of my life. Your culture will put you into that group. When you’re in that you’re fighting against people because of their party choices. It’s the most horrifying thing we can do as Americans. It’s immature as citizens. I believe we all want similar things. The safety of our children. Our communities should be safe. We want success. A safe and healthy environment. We want to eat good food. If we let what our party is decide how we treat one antoher, we have defeated the purpose. There is so much hate in the world and we all should have civil rights regardless of who you are and what you stand for.
DCL: Most people know you as an entertainer and Comedian, how has the transition to politics been? Has it been challenging for you to be taken seriously because of the vast difference in the way you’d present yourself.
Red Grant: People ask me often about how serious I am and I always say, “why would I not be serious about helping my community be safer and better?”. I’m a comedian 10% of my life on a stage and 90% I work in production. I run film companies and am in serious mode most of the time. I’ve employed over thousands of people in my life. Worked with BET, MTV, Viacom, Comedy Central to produce over 25 productions (TV shows). These shows have touched tens of millions of people, pre-social media. The Office of Mayor should be done by a leader/business person who understands how to run corporations and companies. The city of DC is a big corporation.
DCL: What have you learned being on the front lines i’ve seen you do a number of events lately? What have you gained from this work you’ve been putting in?
Red Grant: I’ve been on the front line since I started and when was young. My parents are front liners. They taught us whether it was cleaning up the community. Mom would always tell me to go out pick up the trash. I’d go pick up trash in front I’d come in the house and she’d be like, no the trash on the whole street. Always try to make the community look better, plant flower, coach kids since youth. I played sports, kids to this day working at DC Parks and Recreation. Kids tell me they appreciate me helping when they were young. That’s the front line work. A lot of people don’t get credit for that front line work. You never know what people are going through.
Tell me about your nonprofit/outreach program; Don’t Shoot Guns, Shoot Cameras.
Don’t Shoot Guns, Shoot Cameras non profit is helping young peple learn how to shoot and werite films. That’s a big front line effort I support. My writing In school was often criticized, and now I write for some of the biggest corporations in the world. I deal with people on the front line everyday. It’s more respect to walk among the people and I think we all should all be
DCL: What do you think the residents of DC need?
Red Grant: I think the DC residents need more love care and respect put into the atmosphere of the area. It’s easy to be a politician that acts like you heard the people, but did you implement anything to help their needs? If you look at the organizational chart of DC government, the residents are at the top. The residents are often forgotten. They need to be heard again. We also have a public safety issue. I was talking to some kids and they are really afraid to come outside. we need real public safety. there are a lot peple in our city that are genuinely afraid. our youth DOES care. our seniors need real programs put back in place as well. We need love. Care. Programs that can help youth and seniors. WE have a homeless issue thats top 4 in the nation and we should be an example as the district. People really need healthcare. Many can’t go to the doctor when they’re sick. A DC resident has to make $34/hour to afford a 2 bedroom apartment in DC.
DCL: What are your thoughts about DC’s gentrification and the misuse of 82 million dollars that was meant to provide affordable housing?
Red Grant: Gentrification is happening, but that’s not the huge problem. The city has 82 million dollars “missing” that was meant to go to residents. Gentrification isn’t making room for the citizens who have been here for 4-5 generations. Even the people that move here are saying it’s a problem. The government itself is not allocating the proper funds to make it fair in DC. One of the first things you learn growing up is to be fair and share. Those things are not happening, and thats a problem. People are suffering. These are hardworking people that are treated like they don’t work. They should be able to afford a fair living expense. It’s a shame when money is given to the people who don’t need the help. We will work on that immediately when I become Mayor of DC. That won’t happen on my watch.
DCL: Tell me about your nonprofit/outreach program, “Don’t Shoot Guns, Shoot Cameras”. Does the program provide school credit or job placement opportunities?
Red Grant: We actually have some super success stories coming out of that program who want to be filmmakers. We do find job placement. They come back to become mentors themselves. We place them in jobs open up our contacts to them and relationships with film and tv production companies. Started this program 2 years ago partnering up with Hustlers Guild Yasmin Silena and it has definitely taken off when you stick to the vision. We have been on Good Morning America, CNN, ABC, CBS evening news, CBS Germany Washington Post, etc. It’s very humbling how powerful these kids are when given an opportunity.
DCL: Are there any success stories you can share from the Don’t Shoot Guns, Shoot Cameras program?
Red Grant: All of them are success stories. Some of them tell me how they used to carry around guns and they tell me how this program inspired them to be a filmmaker instead. Marley Richmondson, attending Good Morning America, I had that proud father moment watching her. They are the true heroes in our city.
DCL: Will you expand to other cities?
Red Grant: We did DC and LA (Inglewood) Mayor Bus let us come in and expand to Chicago Detroit, Miami, Virgin Islands. We’re expanding into school curriculum and training regular teachers to teach our students how to film and get their thoughts out. We have an incredible staff running the program. We are always looking for volunteers and students www.DontShootGunsShootCameras.com or DCGSC.org and stay involved with the movement.
DCL: How is this program funded?
Red Grant: It’s funded by my own personal money, my friends also give money. We haven’t received Government funding. They don’t always want to give to these programs and people can donate to websites and anyone can donate as much as they want. It helps and takes a lot of money to run this program. You do receive a credit for your donation.
DCL: How do you balance work and home life? How has that balance been for you?
Red Grant: It’s always difficult to balance, but I have found a way to be a father, husband, business man, stand up comedian, run for Mayor, travel and be a service to help our communities. I schedule it properly. I don’t get a lot of sleep, but I do sleep enough. I dont want to complain about what God has me doing and the opportunities in front of me. So it’s not difficult to me. Do you push yourself to do it? A lot of people say they can’t get stuff done, but they make time for other things. I was built for this. When I’m no longer here on this Earth, people say I worked hard and I left it all on the court like Jordan. My wife be like, “I don’t see how you do it”. I’m like, me either. LOL
DCL: You are a part of the World War III Tour with Katt Williams and you’re about to be at Constitution Hall in a few days. What is your favorite part of being on this tour with Katt and Company?
Red Grant: Working with Katt is American Hustler, we were babies, having fun. We still have the same fun. I’m on tour with friends, it’s different when you tour with people who rock with them the way they rock with you. Katt is a real guy. A real friend. Giving and loving, a great father and mentor. When you’re around the goat, you try to “baaa
DCL: Who were your comedy inspirations?
Red Grant: Sinbad, Martin, Robin Harris, Dick Gregory, I started following his story a while ago. God has me on a similar path being in the business – making money while serving and giving up things. That takes a person who understands their purpose.
There are a lot of people who motivate me to this day. Katt motivates me and young comedians too like DC Young Fly, Karlous Miller, Chico Bean and the ladies B. Simone, and Jess Hilarious. They call me OG and it feels good because you can learn so much from people, young or old. I have cultural swag. There are people who have swag like Snoop, Diddy and Jay-Z, and I feel like I’m one of those people. We will continue to rock on.
DCL: Tells us about a moment where you had an awful night as a comedian. Did you learn anything from that experience?
Red Grant: One night. at the Apollo, many years ago it was my 3rd time there. Levert was supposed to go on before me and someone went out and got boo’d. I remember Steve Harvey told me to get the crowd back up and make them laugh. I went out on stage and said, “I see yall booing people, yall can boo me! Before I could get the next word out, there were boos all through the room. I learned that night you never ask Apollo to boo you.
DCL: WHAT DO YOU WANT THE PEOPLE TO KNOW AND REMEMBER WHEN THEY HEAR THE NAME RED GRANT?
Red Grant: I want them to know who Rodney is. How he cared about people and how he wants nothing but the best for his community. He wants people to put their differences aside to love, care, and respect one another. He worked hard for the people. I want them to remember the God fearing man that loves his family.