Thanks for the congrats on the 2011 NAACP Image Awards! It was a fun night. What made me feel so great about 19 nominations is that 16 of the 19 were for actors or actresses that have worked or are working on something produced by my studio. What a blessing that is! Thank you for allowing me to be able to put so many people to work. I also gotta say that I'm so happy for David Mann (Mr. Brown). He won his first image award! He is so talented and so funny. Congratulations sir!
After the show, I threw a party and called it the "Rise Above It" celebration and I dedicated it to all the folks who are trying to keep their dreams alive.
This party was for everyone who has to go on 1,000 auditions just to get what a lot of others can get in one or two. This party was for the people who have to knock on 1,000 doors to get a break when others seem to be able to make one phone call and get things done. This party was for the people who felt like their dreams were fading to black and white. I spoke to the crowd about all of this, and then I went on to encourage them just as I'd like to encourage you. Don't let your dreams lose their color.
I called the party "Rise Above It" because that's what we have to do sometimes. I could sit thinking about a million things that are wrong, but instead I choose to think on what is right. So "as a man thinketh so is he". In order to see any kind of good success you've got to think positively so that positive things can start to happen in your life. This I know for a fact--IT WORKS! Your thoughts are so powerful. You've got to rise above negativity. Not all of it, but most of it. I say that because even the smallest battery has a positive and negative charge and they both are needed in order for it to work. If you get criticism that is vitriolic and full of venom, don't let that in. Venom kills the spirit. If you get criticism that is constructive and full of love, take it under consideration and learn. It takes a little wisdom to be able to know the difference.
My mother, God rest her soul, when I was a kid in New Orleans, taught me something about higher ground. Every time a hurricane would threaten the city she would gather us up and take us across the lake to higher ground. New Orleans is 6 feet below sea level and she would always tell us that we would be safe if we were up higher. No matter what the forecast called for, even if the storm was just coming close to the city, she would take us to my grandfather's house. He lived 80 miles away in a town that was much higher than New Orleans.
Now, as a man, I recount that. When I deal with negative things in this life, in this business, I "rise above it". I stay on higher ground. I don't come down from the safety of a higher place to deal with the foolishness or danger of what is beneath me. I tell you it works. It frees your soul to be free. If you haven't tried it you should. It will mess your enemies up. If I can leave you with anything, I will leave you with this--in this life there will be a lot of things thrown at you. Take them as they come. Some things you fight, but most you don't. Rise above it! Nothing can hurt you when you stay in the high place. It's safe there. And don't worry about your enemies. The 23rd Psalm says, "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies", which means, in order for you to eat, then your enemies have to be present! (smile)
I said most of this to the crowd that night. I said a prayer and then introduced Mary J. Blige, who gave us an hour-long "throw down" concert. Mary is the real deal! Here are some pictures: