Author, Radio Personality & Speaker, Jeff Hodges, is the founder and CEO of YMPmedia.com, a parent company to Young Men’s Perspective Magazine and IT’S BIGGER THAN HIP HOP RADIO™; through his trans-media company Jeff conveys and communicates the message and the power of transformation. Driven by his passion for change; Jeff is an Empowerment Speaker, Youth Advocate, Publisher and Author of his bestseller, A Collection of Conversations A Guide To Success Vol. 1.
I was extremely excited to interview Jeff. Check out our interview below.
MH: Congratulations Jeff, on your role as a border tribesman in the upcoming Black Panther film. It must be extremely exciting to have a part in such a much-anticipated release. How did you get the part? Have you been acting long?
JH: Thank you. First, allow me to thank you for this great opportunity to share my journey with you and your readers, such an honor, and humbling experience.
Since there has never in the history of cinema been a film that allows and an ensemble of Black characters to take charge on a global scale quite like this, exciting to say the least! I have to pinch myself from all the sudden outburst of grinning and smiling I often have. I say out loud “I’m a part of the most highly anticipated purposeful movie of all time” like every day it’s so surreal.
I’m extremely excited, I can’t wait to get to Texas to watch on opening night with 5 of my grand babies; it’s my birthday at that. Best birthday gift ever.
As far as how did I get the part, I have to give a huge shout-out to Christopher Gray Casting Atlanta first and foremost. I signed up for the agency without much thought and one day I randomly received an email, “Hey, it’s Christopher Gray, Extras Casting Director, for additional Photography shooting on, “Black Panther” AKA “Motherland”. The rest is history as they say.
This was my first time acting, I remember a couple years ago I was interviewed on the FOX FILES here in Ga regarding my publication and how nervous I was with all those cameras in my face I couldn’t stop blinking. You can only imagine on set how I was in such awe and felt overwhelmed.
MH: There is so much Blackness in this movie, Jeff, it’s beautiful. How did it feel being on a set where nearly everyone there looked like you? What were a few of your most memorable moments on set?
JH: Amazing to say the least. Where it was being filmed was on this huge acreage, some speculated 80-800 acres no telling. But it was a place accustomed to hosting thousands of people, that was for sure. I got to be on set with Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright and Daniel Kaluuya.
My costume was full of so many details, it took an assistant to help me get dress. I felt all regal and like a true citizen of Wakanda. I touched the Black Panther suit, it felt so cool I said to BP stunt double as he took a moment being playful with us in between takes. As a radio personality as you can imagine I get to interview some amazing people. I can share with you guys by the time this goes to print, I will get to interview costume designer Ruth E. Carter, known for such work featured in Selma, (2014), Amistad (1997) and Roots (2016) and Black Panther ( 2018).
Chadwick was one very cool brother with so much swagger, to watch how the transition in and out of character during breaks, he embodied Black Panther. He too took a moment to acknowledge the wave of extras coming back being joking and all with the lot of us. When I tell you watching Danai Gurira do her thing was definitely eye-catching, her grace and demeanor as a strong black warrior woman was so convincing she was the bomb.com, wait till you guys get a load of her and the lady warrior squad known as the Dora Milaje fierce is all and spectacular poetry in motion.
Then there was director, Ryan Kyle Coogler, I remember thinking this brother is my hero, here he has the power to tell the story of the most highly anticipated movie of all times and to think again it’s a brother, intelligent laid back approachable kept it 100 watching him in action there are no words. I have to laugh out loud, even now as I answer this question thinking how I would be in journalist mode at times trying to get next to him for just a split second to get a question in, try to pass my info or get the gatekeepers information for that exclusive.
In retrospect, me in costume, I see my attempt to connect on set with Ryan like an episode of I Love Lucy or some other goofy spoof show where the character attempts to get next to a superstar and all the calamity associated with that enough for a sitcom for days.
Then there were the moments spending time with the young black actor, stuntmen, doubles. It was quite refreshing to see and hear all the stories of doubling or being on other sets, you can only imagine how fascinated I was by it all. Besides all the eye dropping special effects, and scenes of stunts being played out, watching how it all gets done. There were the times during the fight scenes, I found amusing. It was during these dramatic scenes of gut-wrenching brutal blows to the death, I would be playing dead somewhere on the ground.
I would be reminded of the movie “300” and now I get a more realistic effect of how it’s done and what takes place. I found it absolutely amusing here you have these brute soldiers fighting to the death, and when the director says cut. Suddenly, the scene goes from warrior to worrier, all you hear instantly in these thespian voices “oh I’m sorry”,” I didn’t mean to hit you like that” or “I’m so, so sorry.” I was on the ground dying laughing.
I was also in a scene with your boy from “Get Out”, Daniel Kaluuya. I almost didn’t recognize him, since he wasn’t that skinny looking guy from the movie. He stood before us in the same costume leading us in the scene looking like Dr. Dre and LL Cool J all rolled up in one all buff and being comedic with us as well. It was really cool on set laid back, and very exciting even though you got worn out near the end of the day with all the “do it again’s” running down the hill during the fight scenes.
MH: Jeff, you’re the CEO of Young Men’s Perspective Magazine. How long have you been in publication? Could you tell us about your magazine and its objectives? Is it in print or digital only, where can it be found?
JH: Young men’s perspective is an interactive digital magazine and radio show designed to strengthen character and promote success through inspiration and information.
Our mission is to use the magazine and radio show to empower, encourage and enrich our young men of color so that more of them succeed in life.
Young Men’s Perspective Magazine and Radio podcasts is a new online outreach phenomenon for Black youth. The best of the New Media, YMP offers radio podcast interviews as well as written articles with art photography in an exciting and easy to read online format.
Young Men’s Perspective Magazine est. 2013, is a quarterly digital and hard copy publication. We’re on all digital platforms, and we’re seeking contributing writers (shameless plug).
I created #ympmagazine and had my sights on getting it in the hands of the legendary remarkable woman we all know and love as #susanltaylor
It was something Susan L. Taylor said to me that became the wind beneath my wings. When I set off on this journey, it was my every intention to get Young Men’s Perspective Magazine in her hands, and I did!
The words she spoke were words of reassurance and encouragement as expected. I’m truly grateful for following my heart and embracing my passion for my dreams.
Hearing those words only reaffirm what I already knew in my heart. “Jeff, you’re on your way, the idea and how you have presented it is excellent. The way you’re going is exactly what our people need, they need exactly how you describe it in your business plan. They need to be able to express themselves, and you created that place where they can have that dialogue”
30 years ago, I was facing 10-30 years in prison. For some reading this that’s a lifetime ago, in the end, I did 3 years of my life fighting for my freedom. One of the takeaways from my experience was, I always loved to read. Statistics say your average inmate doesn’t know how to read past a third-grade level. If it had not been for my love of reading, I wouldn’t be able to come before you now!
In prison, you’re afforded several things, and one if not the most important was the Law Library! It allowed me to obtain the freedom I was seeking. As I reflect on my “journey in the belly of the beast. Now half man half gladiator and from the cold concrete and bars of the cages all beast”, I often think about my fellow comrades, who as a statistic; won’t be afforded the same opportunities as I Many, because they can’t read, this is where my journey and mission begins.
MH: What could you accomplish if you woke up every day inspired, focused and connected to your purpose?
JH: I’m an anomaly in the very hood I come from, [that] makes for the perfect opportunity to reach back to help change lives.
Before my story can begin with assisting others with their transformation, I had to conclude mines with an apology and atonement. An apology to those I’ve hurt and offended, an apology to myself along with forgiving myself for the life my choices created. Acknowledgement, being the first of all three would come initially to begin this very process, acknowledging I’ve done some egregious behaviors and needed atoning which I did. This would be the tone and direction of my publication, intertwining my speaking and writings.
In the end, my objectives were being met utilizing my magazine as my foundation to funnel the content I obtain under the guise of experiences during my transformation knowing how powerful storytelling could be, I began to be more transparent sharing my personal transformation, knowing how empowering that could be. I began looking for other stories of the same caliber.
MH: You published a book, A Collection of Conversations, A Guide to Success How did that come about? What can readers expect to take away from your reading it?
JH: They say change comes when you’re sick and tired, I was both and ready for the change. Fast forward to today, I am a mentor and community activist, who is a strong positive black business man. No longer a part of the problem perpetuating our communities, but a determined pillar of strength. This book details my transformation while sharing the resources used to make all of the necessary changes based on a series of profound discussions from some of our most prominent individuals.”
“You know you’re on the right road when the right and necessary people cross your path”
I was given a 30-day challenge by my coach to write my book, he said “you got it in you, you can do it”, so I did. Donald Goines, the prison system, and young black males. I always imagine my books, and magazine garnering that type of attention and devotion from its readers, and what better way to have an impact on my target audience, than the prison system.
It was fun seeing all those words add up, which became my inspiration to continue to push forward, and before you know it my book was born. As far as what I want my readers to get from the book, I’ll say a change in perspective; my mantra change your thinking, change your life.”
MH: I see that you’re a youth empowerment speaker, what made you want to work with youth? How long have you been speaking?
JH: It was during a routine visit with my organization 7000men, inc I found my voice September of 2013 I was at a youth detention center, after speaking they all swarmed around me asking all kind of questions. They really wanted to get to know me and definitely hear from me more. I connected with them and felt this was destined, so we’d go often and it was there I discovered my passion and purpose to working with our young men. I would write about 100 of them and about 75 % would return letters wanting advice and direction for when they get out.
“The bridge shortens for our youth, as the gap widens for the next Generation who see pass tomorrow”?
That’s when I realized there’s a big difference between a person who writes and tells stories, and a person who writes to share the story of their life being transparent to help others. I’m the latter, especially during my presentations. Check out my story, was my basic approach, and is what I come to realize was my introduction to this speaking platform, several prison and school visits later here I am. Governor Perdue here in Ga started a pilot program, bringing speakers to the transitional centers and I really went in going regularly making all sorts of connections with the young men.
Check out this video of Jeff speaking at One Bright Ray Community H.S. in Philadelphia, PA.
MH: Jeff, how long have you been running It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop Radio? Please tell us more about your platform. Who have been some of your most memorable guests?
JH: We’ve had several names changes over the years, since 2008 from “7000men radio “One of many men”, “Young Men’s Perspective Magazine radio show “, “ YMPradio”, “ YMPmedia” all mind you with the same mission and intent. The premier source for Empowering, Encouraging and Enriching content.
In April 2017, we changed to “It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop”, realizing we were addressing the very issues ailing us as a community and culture, and it only made sense to name the show IBTHH while we continue having those HIGHER INFINITE POWER HEALING OUR PEOPLE type conversations. Our tagline “BREAKFAST IS OVER, IT’S DINNER TIME NOW” is a mantra “The Breakfast Club” needs to become very familiar with, because we’re coming for that number one spot, bringing substance, answers, and empowerment for our people!
“Hip-hop is more than music. It’s a culture & a lifestyle.”
Interviews, wow where do I begin; We’ve had Dr. Dick Gregory, Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, Dr. Steve Perry, Adina Howard, C.R. Capers, Yahya McClain, Shaka Senghor, Russell Simmons, Susan L Taylor, Brian Barton, Bill Duke, MC Lyte, Dr. Elisa English, and Dr. Umar Ifatunde. Just to name a few. I also produced show segments on my platform with guest such as Dr. Maya Angelou, Lenny Williams.
MH: Actor, author, speaker, radio show host, you have your hands in quite a few pots. If you had to focus on just one of your skills, which would you say is your greatest passion, why?
JH: My greatest passion is being transparent during my transformation. It allows me to connect with my target audience and convey my message on several different mediums. Which equates to my passion for my mission being able to get my message out with a goal to empower 1 million black men, would have to be my final answer lol
At the end of the day, my radio show really allows me to focus on my passion to inspire, empower and, encourage individuals to tap into their best potential. My show has an est. reach of over 5.5 million listeners via 1100Atlanta.com here in Atlanta 91 million with IHEART, 2.5 daily listeners on EXPOSURE magazine website, 1 million on WWRN.
Our show is syndicated. My second child and you can say favorite IBTHH IS featured on IHEARTRADIO IBTHH. Today www.IBTHHRADIO.com is one of my most celebrated achievements. I’ve had several benchmark moments. One being a guest at an NBA YMPmagazine invite-only event for my publication doesn’t even match to this one right here….Tune in every Fri LIVE via www.IBTHHRADIO.com and visit our podcast on www.IHEART.com search App IBTHH
MH: Where can people find out more about you?
Thank you for having me and allowing me to share, if I may, my final remarks I like to leave you and your readers…..
One of the most important things in life is to always remain true to self, a man of your word; one who has integrity shows loyalty and is not swayed by the lack of realness in others. It’s my firm belief, in order for our young men to act and behave as kings, we – the elder men – must present ourselves as kings.
The bridge shortens for our youth, as the gap widens for the next Generation who see pass tomorrow”?
They say change comes when you’re sick and tired, are you?
Change your thinking, change your life!!!!!!!
Peace and Blessings
Thinker, Avid Reader, Couch Potato. Sapphire Hill is a writer from Baltimore Maryland who loves to delve deeper into the whys of everything. Staff writer for 86 Blvd and Badd Magazine. Blogger and talent promoter for Sapphire Spotlight On Talent.