I love challenges. Especially an unexpected one. From the moment I got the email for an opportunity to interview Yonathan Elias from The Grand Hustle, I was excited to take on the task. Any person in the wild world of media who is rising, creating content and getting seen is an aspiration to me. And much like Issa Rae said, “I’m rooting for everybody black.” So I wanted this to go as smooth as possible. What we wish for is not always what we get, but we must make it happen nonetheless.
I would have loved for you all to hear the audio on this one. The conversation and laughter that you read is very genuine. The respect was mutual and a great moment created. However, I sound like a DJ clue mixtape intro and that just couldn’t be fixed for this one. The goal is to talk with Yonathan again after he reaches the goal that he spoke into existence during this conversation. I hope you enjoy it. Here’s the latest cool conversation with CamQuotes and Yonathon Elias!
Interview: Yonathan Elias
CQ: It’s CamQuotes and I got a special guest with me today. We sat. We troubleshot. We navigated through flights. We tried to connect during an Uber
CQ: But we finally did it! And our guest is safe and sound and his name is, Yonathan Elias! What’s up, Sir?
YE: What’s good, man?
CQ: Hey man, it’s a pleasure to finally connect
YE: Yeah, definitely! The devil was definitely busy, Bruh! The devil was busy!
CQ: So, right now, on a national level, everyone knows you’re on The Grand Hustle show right now. T.I’s show on BET and I want to get into that. But first and foremost, I wanted to say that I wanted to talk to you specifically from the show.
YE: Oh yeah? Ok. Why was that?
CQ: Well, because you’re the Media Hustler
YE: Yeah Ok, True that. Yup, yup.
CQ: And a person who’s background is radio and I’ve done TV as well and your timeline, from me doing my research on your timeline and “Doing My Google’s” as they say, you’ve hit some milestones and we’ve done some parallel things. You obviously on a much larger scale, because “I’m talk to YOU!” Haha! Which is super dope!
CQ: And whenever I get a chance to talk to a person in media, I love to help give game to the people that are watching and think it’s so easy. Like, “I just get on and I just talk” “I just do me” and “I keep it real” and that’s all it is.
YE: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.
CQ: There are so many intricacies to being a media personality, especially in 2018. What can you say about your whole process that people do not see?
YE: So when I tell people when I started and this is one of the main questions that I get because I’ve done so much in the entertainment industry. Hosting 106 & Park, hosting Howard’s Homecoming, Park fest at University of Albany, Complex, you know what I mean? And the list goes on. Seeing me on this show and being one of the main characters, a lot of people think that this came easy. Just overnight, but that’s the total opposite. I have been in the entertainment industry for almost 20 years!
YE: And it’s taken this long for me to get to stage and platform that I’m on today.
YE: So that’s one of the main things that people really have to understand. I started taking myself to auditions at the age of 15. Bought myself a car. And my family is African and they are all about education. So I said, “I’m going to make sure I go to school, get good grades and make them happy, but I still need to do what I want to do and what I love.
So I’d drive myself to auditions. I landed Soul Train. I was one of the youngest dancers. One of the main dancers on Soul Train. So it’s like, Bruh. The hustle and grind. When I tell you there has been times where I’ve slept in my car because I had overnight shoots. Just doing “Extra” work, trying to get a “SAG” voucher and still never got the SAG voucher. End up sleeping in my car and have to go to Burger King and wash up, just to be an extra! You know what I mean? So, this is a long time coming. It’s a blessing that I’ve finally reached part of where I want to be. Cause this is nowhere close to where I want to be. I’m shooting to be a multimedia mogul
CQ: Nice. Nice!
YE: So this is a great push up and level up in my career. So that’s what people need to understand. That this doesn’t come easy and they will definitely weed out the people who are just in it for the fame and money.
CQ: Definite fact!
YE: I can’t see myself doing anything else. It’s so much more than fame and money. I don’t care about that. This is what I love to do and I love to inspire people and motivate people because it wasn’t easy for me.
CQ: And I think that shows in your process on the show. You can tell that the work put in and your whole process has definitely lead you to this point and you look like you’re not letting up! A Game every single show! Foot on necks, lol!
YE: Oh yeah!
CQ: And I think that’s a sign of a person who’s really hustled their way through this media industry. Like you were saying, sleeping in the car. Washing up at Burger King. The starter roles and entry level opportunities. Again, that’s super dope that we get to see a media aficionado on a stage like this. People don’t necessarily see the hustle and all the same rules apply and the same type of money can be made
CQ: And it’s definitely something that needs to be highlighted. And I’m glad they have someone that has great personality as well as genuine drive in this business and it’s represented on the show so, salute to you for that.
YE: I appreciate that, Bro.
CQ: As we get to the finals and you’ve already cheated death and elimination a couple times, Haha!
YE: Haha! A couple. A COUPLE Times, ha! T.I. specifically said that I’m “skating on thin ice with hot blades”
YE: But he see’s a lot in me. This is from what other people are saying. They can tell that Tip really likes me and he definitely sees a lot in me.
Yeah, I definitely like to play with fire, Haha!
CQ: So, for everybody that’s “Team Yonathan” are we going to be impressed and elated by these finals? Do you have one more death to cheat?
YE: You know I can definitely not say anything about any episodes that haven’t been shown, because that’s a 2 million dollar contract, brother.
YE: They’ll sue my ass!
YE: I’m definitely proud of where I’m at right now. I’m in the final four. When I tell you, I busted my ass to get here. Because odds were against me. Devil was trying me with having me deal with people I usually wouldn’t deal with in regular life.
YE: Not gon’ say his name. He ain’t worth it. But, everything was real. This is reality TV. There was no script, no storylines to act out. We could not be on our phones. We couldn’t watch TV, couldn’t read magazines, couldn’t read books. Everything was real because we had to interact with each other for “25/8”. No social media.
So I’m just proud of how far I’ve gotten. Me being in the final four, that’s amazing! It’s a huge accomplishment, especially with the challenges that Tip gave us. That’s what I can say. But who’s going to win and how far I get, I can’t tell you that, lol!
CQ: As far as the challenges that we’ve seen so far, which was your favorite one?
YE: My favorite one so far was the Movie Challenge.
- Because I was the team leader. I was the point for that.
- I also came up with the concept. I shot the scenes and lead my team to victory.
That was one accomplishment that I was really, really proud of. Tip really liked the movie idea.
Basically it was representing Black Women in action hero form. They’re so under represented in the movie industry, so I wanted to make sure we highlighted our beautiful black queens, kicking ass, but looking good in it too! You know what I mean? Tight leather pants with an Afro, it doesn’t matter, you know? Almost like a Foxy Brown type of thing.
CQ: Nice. I’m here for all that.
YE: I really loved that movie pitch challenge.
CQ: Dope. There was an episode where you were all creating a mural and David Banner showed up.
YE: Yeah man!
CQ: And I can tell from the episode and your standalone that it really hit you hard. Like, you weren’t expecting that much game and for that experience to happen.
YE: Yeah that challenge was probably the most meaningful and satisfying, I would say. Because not only were we shedding light on an issue that is killing our brothers and sisters with mass incarceration, but we’re also able to make a change. To have someone of a high caliber like David Banner to come and spit wisdom was insane!
There were moments where all eyes met and pain was felt. BET couldn’t really show that much, because he spoke to us for a cool minute. That was definitely an honor. Just to be in his presence and help us with our mural. We came up with the concept of showing how jail takes the fathers away and separates the families and at the end of the day it’s all about money. It was a dope as mural and a dope ass idea.
And Banner was like, “That’s dope, but what’s the solution?” and we hadn’t even thought about that. That’s so crazy that we are always thinking about the negatives of what’s happened but let’s think of a solution. Let’s think of how the community can come together and make a difference. Little stuff like that, he definitely hooked us up. 90% of the team has dealt with being incarcerated or police brutality and racial injustice. So that definitely meant a lot to us.
CQ: Was there anything that David Banner shared that was inspiring that unfortunately made the cutting room floor?
YE: They showed most of the main points, but he definitely went into detail of how Black people need to stop hating Black people and we need to start loving ourselves again. And that hit home! Because we can play the blame game and all that but he legit said, “Black people need to start loving black people again.” And I thought that was so powerful. Just those words right there. Because it’s the truth! He was saying these marches and protest is cool but it ain’t doing shit. We need to love ourselves before any change can be made.
CQ: So profound, yet simplistic. And it’s great when someone like David Banner can give you that kind of gem to take with you.
So, multi media mogul aspirations!
CQ: As a goal oriented person I know you’re already on 2019, 2020. 2020 has been done for you.
CQ: So, what is the main goal that Yonathan is going to achieve in 2019?
YE: I’m going to have a dope ass TV Series. That I created. I wrote the script and it’s going to be dope as hell! Everybody is going to love it! It’s actually in pre production right now. I have Frank Gatson Jr. who’s a legend! He’s the dude that basically created EnVouge. He was Beyoncé’s creative director. Tyrese’s first manager. Like, he’s a Legend! And he’s going to be directing it.
I wanted to showcase brothers in today’s society. Showing a vulnerable side but also the camaraderie between brothers. So it’s basically going to be like a guy version of “Girlfriends”.
CQ: Ah ok! That’s super tight! That was a great show!
YE: It’s a Dramedy [Dramatic Comedy] but also going to be a lot of stuff that happens in my life. I’ll be acting in it and I have people like Angie Stone, who will be in it. Re’Shaun Frear, who’s a huge film TV producer that’s going to be EP [Executive Producer] for it. So, that’s going to be my 2019. I’m going to have it out. We’re going to pitch it to Netflix. I’m speaking it into existence, they going to TAKE IT! Ya feel me?
CQ: You dig! Absolutely! Netflix giving out all this money! They might as well give it to yet another black person with talent!
YE: Let me tell you about it, man! Come on with it!
CQ: Awesome man! Before we get out of here, we got to let the people know where they can reach you. Follow you and consume your content and stay in tune with everything you got going on and forthcoming.
YE: Definitely! Y’all can follow me on Instagram: @YonathanEliasTV.
I also have a fan page on Facebook: facebook.com/yonathanelias
You can find out everything that’s happening and it’s a lot of great things happening. I’m super excited about it.
CQ: It’s been a pleasure, man! Thank you very much!
And remember everybody, “Life is a culmination of good and bad decisions you make. So, please! Don’t have unprotected sex with someone you hate!”
YE: HELL YEAH, MAN! What! LOL!!!
CQ: LOL!! It can never be done.
YE: I thought you were going real deep with it. I was going to end it with “Have Great Sex.”
YE: Damn. So I’ll continue with “Have Great Sex”
CQ: But only with people you love and appreciate or at least “Like” for a weekend.
YE: That is real!
CQ: HA! It’s CamQuotes and Yonathan Elias! And we are out.