MCM: How did growing up in Flint shape the person you are today?
TC: It’s good things and bad things that make you who you are. I remember when my family moved from Flint Park Boulevard over to Winona Street, which was in the northern part of town. We were the first black family on the street. It was the mid-70s and it was a different time in a lot of ways. I remember it being a very sweet time. We were really all about helping each other. When I was 11 or 12 years old, we shoveled snow for our neighbors and we didn’t even do it for money. My dad would say, ‘Hey, you do things to help people.’ There was an older lady who lived near us and we shoveled her snow, raked her yard and made sure she was okay. My mother would cook something for her and we would take it to her house. Flint is where I learned to help people.
I remember when the auto industry started to fall and the whole bottom fell out. Our neighbors just started disappearing. It gave me a sense of, ‘Okay, things are changing and I have to change, too.’ Because of the shop mentality in Flint, anytime you tried to poke your head up and do something different, it was looked at as very strange. It was like, ‘Hey, whoa! What do you think you are doing?’ I remember thinking, ‘Why not?’ People would say, ‘You can’t do that.’ And I would say, ‘Yes, I can!’ It made me realize that I had to create my own environment. My father taught me to stand on my own. I never wanted GM or any other company or industry to determine what happens to me. When you start thinking wrong, things tend to go wrong. I always say there are no evil people, only evil thinking. I saw a lot of wrong things and I decided to go the other way. People who were doing things the right way were always in my corner. There are a lot of good people in Flint, Michigan.
MCM: You have experienced a few different careers. Do you have a favorite?
TC: I don’t have a favorite, because I made a promise to myself a long time ago to only do what I love to do. I really, really don’t want to go through pain and heartache, so I only do what I love. That doesn’t mean it is easy – it’s always been a sacrifice. I know what I want now, and I have enough to get me through the hard times. Growing up in Flint, my brother and I used to watch a lot of TV and I always thought to myself, ‘Wow, I would love to do that.’ I remember saying, ‘Man, one day, I have got to do that. One day, I want to be that guy.’ And it’s amazing, because here I am!
My City Magazine thanks Terry Crews for taking the time to talk to us. Keep on livin’ loud, Terry!