Terry Crews: The Man's Got Talent Brooklyn Nine-Nine star and America's Got Talent: The Champions host Terry Crews reflects on his football career, activist work, and his breakthrough in Hollywood.
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Terry Crews: The Man's Got Talent

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Terry Crews: The Man's Got Talent

Terry Crews: The Man's Got Talent

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OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

It's time to welcome our special guest. He stars on the sitcom "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and hosts "America's Got Talent: The Champions," both on NBC. Please welcome Terry Crews.

(CHEERING)

TERRY CREWS: Awesome.

EISENBERG: I just have to describe, Terry, for our listeners, you came out here. You did a pec dance.

CREWS: Yeah, oh, yeah.

(CHEERING)

CREWS: I give the people what they want, you know what I mean?

EISENBERG: That's right. Now, Terry, back after high school, you get two scholarships at the same time. You get a art scholarship, visual arts scholarship, and a football scholarship.

CREWS: I had two scholarships, but one was to Interlochen Arts Academy.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Yeah.

CREWS: What? Yeah. It's an amazing place. It was a six-week program. It was, like, a pre-college thing. Then I had a really small scholarship to Western Michigan University. And then I walked on to the football team in order to get a full ride football scholarship.

EISENBERG: Whoa.

CREWS: So it was - I had to go through the Rudy thing, you know what I mean?

(LAUGHTER)

CREWS: I was a big, ole Rudy, basically.

EISENBERG: So then you're drafted to the NFL in 1991.

CREWS: That's right.

EISENBERG: And to make extra money, you actually start doing portraits of your fellow teammates and of people playing football.

CREWS: That's - exactly. What you got to understand, athletes are very egotistical so I needed to make some money. So I was like, dude, let me paint you over the city and the whole thing. And they loved it, and they paid me well, but this is the thing. I got married very early. I was married in college. We had two kids very early, and I got cut a lot. I'm listed as having three years in the NFL, but it took seven years to do.

(LAUGHTER)

CREWS: You know what I mean? My NFL career was not glamorous at all. It was like being a roadie in a band that was kind of never going anywhere, you know?

(LAUGHTER)

CREWS: So we lived out of suitcases. And then when I would get cut, I always just humbled myself. I went back in the locker room and I asked those guys, hey, man, do you need - would you like a painting? This is something that I do. And I would show them my portfolio, and they really liked it, and it got us through. Perseverance wins out.

(CHEERING)

CREWS: Yeah.

EISENBERG: I mean, you - even as you sit here as someone so successful, you seem very humble and very authentic. But I imagine, like, when Sly Stallone calls you to be in "The Expendables," the first one, you must have felt like, you know, I'm a big deal now.

CREWS: You know, it's weird because I'll have more experiences than people are allowed, to be honest. I mean, I feel like I've lived 17 lives. And, you know, when Sly called, I remember that it was a big, big deal because I was literally the fourth choice on that movie, but that's fourth in the world (laughter).

EISENBERG: Yeah, right.

CREWS: You know what I mean? You know - and now this is another thing, too. You got to understand. Before I started in acting, I was doing security on the movie sets, OK? And I remember talking to my wife and I said, you know what? Here we are? We're in LA. Because this is the - we were broke. And when you're broke - we decided, you know, at least if you're broke, be broke by what you want to do. Like, be near it. So - because you can be broke anywhere, you know what I mean? So I worked security, but there was a day it clicked to me. I'm 12 hours on the set and the whole thing, and I'm going, this is it. I'm a part of a Hollywood production. I was like, the bathrooms are this way, sir.

(LAUGHTER)

CREWS: But the thing is, I remember telling my wife - she'll tell you - this is a wonderful job because I said I get to be around it. And I'm going to tell you right now. This sounds so strange, but I was happy. And listen; if it would've ended there, I still would have been happy. I just feel that way about everything I'm doing.

(LAUGHTER)

CREWS: That's it. Like, I take it just like that.

(CHEERING)

CREWS: And you know what? Some people are like, come on, you know, you couldn't have wanted that. But let me tell you, when you are that happy, you don't stay where you are.

EISENBERG: Right.

CREWS: It's impossible. I had people that were like, man, that guy, man. I want him on my job. I want him on my show. I was the most in-demand security guard...

EISENBERG: Infectious, hell yeah.

CREWS: ...Of the place. I made sure my sleeves were rolled up real nice, you know what I mean? I was posing.

(LAUGHTER)

CREWS: I was like, the bathrooms are that way.

(LAUGHTER)

CREWS: And all of a sudden, they were like, oh, you can't stay. We got to put you up here, you know what I mean? And a friend of mine who saw me gave me a shot at my first audition I ever did. Now, I was, again, still security, so I went home, and I was like, babe, this dude's talking about acting. What do you think? She was like, we ain't got nothing now.

(LAUGHTER)

CREWS: So we might as well just do something. Like, try it. I went - the first thing I ever auditioned for in my life, I got.

(CHEERING)

EISENBERG: You know, Time Magazine said you were the first man who made muscle funny.

CREWS: Well, you know what? People had decided in the comedy world - it was a foregone conclusion. If you get in shape, you will never be funny again.

(LAUGHTER)

CREWS: And I just decided - hold on. I'm just going to do me. I never wanted to be the bad ass. They were like, man, you got to take karate classes. I was like, eh, I don't want to do that.

(LAUGHTER)

CREWS: I did a movie - "Malibu's Most Wanted."

EISENBERG: Yeah.

(CHEERING)

CREWS: I remember I had one, big line in the movie. And I ad libbed that. And they were like, wait a minute. And it just kept growing. And Damon Wayans, who was on that movie, recommended me to his uncles for "White Chick." And that...

(CHEERING)

CREWS: Let me tell you, everything that turned - and comedy was my way. The most favorite thing I love about this is I remember standing around and making my mother laugh.

UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE: Aw.

CREWS: And my mother passed away about four years ago. But I remember it just reminded me of being at home and making her laugh, standing here and doing all this stuff. We would watch Carol Burnett. And we would reenact the skits and do all this stuff. And she was like, this is good, you know? And that's all I wanted to do. I remember never being more satisfied than entertaining and making people feel happy. And now I love the fact that this is my career.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

CREWS: Like this - I can keep the muscle and I can keep the laughs. You know what I mean?

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

CREWS: It's great.

EISENBERG: And on top of that, you know, you use your celebrity and your voice to speak out on things. You know, recently, you said men should hold one another accountable...

CREWS: Yes.

EISENBERG: ...When speaking about Kevin Hart and all the publicity and controversy around that. I mean, I got to say, it - I feel like that takes a huge amount of courage to put yourself out there like that.

CREWS: I got to tell you this right now because the world is changing. I just got to tell you how fast it's changing. Right before this, I had a podcast over with Toure. And he was just accused of sexual harassment with receipts. The question is, should I do the podcast anyway? I've already made the commitment. The whole thing - I said cancel...

(APPLAUSE)

CREWS: ...because you know why? I'm going to tell you why. When you're looking at the hierarchy, the people who are below are not believed. Black people are not believed. Women are not believed. Poor people are not believed. Immigrants are not believed. And we got to stop this. The deal is - I've always said men need to hold other men accountable.

(APPLAUSE)

CREWS: That's it.

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

CREWS: And it will sort itself out. And let me tell you, if it comes around and Toure is innocent, then we can do the interview.

EISENBERG: Yeah. That's right.

CREWS: You understand what I'm saying? But as of right now, I'm standing on the side of the women. I'm standing on the side...

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

CREWS: ...Of the people who want to have their voice heard. And I'm with you. This narrative has got to change. And I'm trying to tell you it is changing. It will never, ever be the same because there are other guys just like me in this room that are supportive of women and supportive of what this is.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Yeah.

CREWS: I'm sorry. I keep going.

EISENBERG: No, it's good.

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

CREWS: (Imitating preacher) I give you my word, ha. I'm going to tell you, ha.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Terry, are you ready to play a game? Yeah.

CREWS: (Laughter) I'm ready.

(CHEERING)

EISENBERG: All right. Terry Crews, you're hosting "America's Got Talent: The Champions." The show features memorable and fan favorite acts from previous seasons. You, yourself, are a man of many, many talents. So we couldn't help but write a game about you.

CREWS: Oh, thank you (laughter).

EISENBERG: So we're bringing Jonathan Coulton back out on stage to play a game called Terry Crews Got Talent.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Jonathan, I will describe a talent. Your job is simply to guess whether or not Terry Crews has that talent.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: And Terry will be letting you know if you're right.

JONATHAN COULTON: OK, good.

CREWS: Is there a trap door involved?

EISENBERG: No.

CREWS: Oh, OK.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: I hope not.

CREWS: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: OK, here we go. Jonathan, can Terry Crews play flute?

COULTON: Yes, obviously.

CREWS: Yes, he does. It's true.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

CREWS: You got it. You got it.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: So please explain. You are a flautist.

CREWS: Oh, listen. I love the flute. This is why. My great-great-aunt, she was the matriarch of our family. She said, what instrument do you want, baby? And I remember trying to go outside and play. She was actually in my way. You know, I was like...

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

CREWS: ...Flute, OK? And I ran past her. My brother said guitar. I turn around, for the holiday, there's a flute underneath the tree.

(LAUGHTER)

CREWS: And he gets a guitar. I'm like, damn it. I should've said drums.

(LAUGHTER)

CREWS: And my mother said, no, look. She bought you that flute. You're going to play that flute. You're going to learn it. And I played the flute for probably seven, eight years.

(CHEERING)

CREWS: And I loved it. I mean, it's my own blaxploitation movie, dude.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: That's amazing, OK. Jonathan, was Terry Crews, at one point, a courtroom sketch artist?

COULTON: I'm going to guess because of his studying art and his artistic background, it might be a thing that you would do at least once.

EISENBERG: OK. Terry?

COULTON: I'm going to say yes.

CREWS: Bingo, yes. Yes.

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

CREWS: I was home for college my first year - after my freshman year. My father said, you need a job. You can draw. I'm taking you down to TV12.

(LAUGHTER)

CREWS: I was like, oh, man. OK.

COULTON: (Laughter).

CREWS: And he's like, hey, y'all. My boy can draw. And I'm like, oh, man. All right. I just wanted to get out of there, right?

EISENBERG: Yeah.

CREWS: The art director comes up from the basement. You know, that's where they keep art directors.

(LAUGHTER)

CREWS: And he starts looking at the portfolio. And he's like, I'll give him a job.

(LAUGHTER)

CREWS: And what happened is there was the biggest court case in Flint, Mich., history. And a Chicago court sketch artist could not make it. So they ran downstairs, where we were in the basement. And they said, Terry, can you go to the courtroom right now? And can you sketch the stuff we need tonight? I said, yeah. I didn't - never done it before. There I was sketching out everything. And then they put it on the TV that night. And my mother was like - she was so proud. It was my first job in entertainment, actually.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: All right. Jonathan, did Terry Crews study the art of French pastry?

COULTON: You know, I'm starting to feel like...

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: ...Are any of these going to be no?

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: You don't have to tell me. It just seems like Terry Crews, so far, can do anything.

EISENBERG: That's right.

CREWS: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: We're on to something.

COULTON: And I'm going to say, as unlikely as it sounds that he would have been able to fit in some study of French pastry into this very busy life, I'm going to say, yeah, sure, he does.

CREWS: No.

EISENBERG: No.

COULTON: Oh, come on.

CREWS: Hey, wait. Wait. But I went to Dominique Ansel yesterday, had a cronut, man (laughter).

EISENBERG: Jonathan, does Terry Crews build his own computers?

COULTON: (Laughter) Yes, he does.

CREWS: Yes, I did.

(CHEERING)

CREWS: First of all, OK, I go up to my son. He's watching the computer and he's - and I'm thinking he's playing games. And I'm like, oh, man, are you winning? He was like, dude, I'm watching. I was like, what do you mean? He was like, I'm watching. It's YouTube. I'm watching. I'm like, wait. Wait. You are watching people have fun?

(LAUGHTER)

CREWS: You know, it was one of those things where he was really into this stuff, and I just wanted to get in his world. And so I said, hey, man, what we're going to do - we're going to build a computer from scratch. And so I bought all the stuff. I had no idea what I was doing. And it was the best time. Let me tell you, we got so close.

EISENBERG: That's - yeah.

(CHEERING)

EISENBERG: Great job, Jonathan.

CREWS: You did good.

COULTON: I did pretty good. I did pretty good.

EISENBERG: Yeah, you did pretty good. Terry Crews stars on "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and hosts "America's Got Talent: The Champions." And he'll be back a little later in the show for his own ASK ME ANOTHER challenge. Get up for Terry Crews.

CREWS: Thank you.

(CHEERING)

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