Hey, champions, so today I wanted to share with you the top black motivational speakers who have greatly impacted my life and really made me, who I am today.
I mean truly. They’re all great but we will end up with a couple of top ones and number one. Definitely my number one for sure.
Before I name my first motivational speaker, I feel I should take you back in time to nearly 40 years ago!
I was one of the first African-American stuntmen in Canada, and how I got started is kind of a funny story.
I started acting in 1981 and I remember I did this movie called “Harry Tracy, The Last Desperado”. My character name was black boy. I still have the contract which actually said black boy on it, with my name next to it!
It was actually the first movie I ever did, so, I was totally green and really didn’t know what I was doing.
A young ‘Real Andrews’
Filming was done in the mountains of Banff. I’m sitting in the make-up chair and can you believe they’re actually making me blacker because I wasn’t ‘black enough’. In walks this white guy (who incidentally became one of my best friends back in the day), Jacob Rupp. They said, “Can you stand next to each other.” I stood up (I had no idea what was going on) and they said, “Yeah, he’ll work.” He walks away and a hour later (bear in mind I had hair back then) he comes back in, has an Afro and he’s all blackened – he was my stunt double.
Jacob said to me during filming “You know, you could make a lot of money as a stuntman.”
So I decided to do exactly that and became the first African-American stuntman in Canada.
It led to many roles, it actually birthed my career as an actor and was the beginning of my journey to becoming an Emmy Award-winning actor with The Bay and General Hospital etc.
And, along the way I became Mr. T’s stuntman…
Actor, Television Personality & Retired Professional Wrestler
Mr. T. is, in my opinion a great motivational person. If you know his stories, you know his struggles.
To be able to do what he did and come from where he came from, and he was probably one of the first personal ones that I actually met personally, and influenced my life and inspired me and I remember him.
One day we were sitting on the set chatting, and he inspired me to think bigger in terms of acting – go after the ‘big dream.’
He said, “You need to move to Hollywood. You need to go out there.”
To be honest, I was becoming comfortable playing all these little roles – getting beat up, stabbed and blown up. It was a great career. But Mr. T, he was like, “Hey, fool. You need to move to the big times. Come down and see me.”
I looked straight at him and said, “You know what? I’m gonna do that!”
So I packed up my bags, moved to Hollywood, and the rest is history.
So, I’m forever grateful to Mr. T, the first in my list of top black motivational speakers.
The “United States Congress” has called her “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”.
Another person who was obviously very influential in my life was Rosa Parks.
As a African-American kid growing up I knew the story of Rosa Parks, and I knew the challenges that she went through, and her famous story – where at that time as African-Americans you were supposed to sit in the back of the bus and she refused to sit in the back of the bus.
That was not only a game changer for us as African-Americans, but for me, it motivated me. My mom was a single mom and I was a only child. I related to Rosa Parks as I did my grandma. When I met my grandma in Jamaica, to me, my grandma was Rosa Parks and Rosa Parks was my grandma.
And they both had a huge influence on my life.
And, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if it wasn’t for Martin Luther King.
And as I write this article it’s actually his birthday. The day that I’m writing this article. There were so many different ways that I was motivated by him. I’ve listened to his speeches, I’ve watched his videos. You know, I have a dream. If you’re not able to run, walk. If you’re not able to walk, crawl. If you’re not able to crawl, do whatever you can or just fly.
So many different sayings that he said. Not just the I have a dream.
When I think about the fact, if you know the real story of Martin Luther King, that the ‘I have a dream’ speech, was not the speech that he was supposed to give that day.
And that’s always been very inspirational for me – to act on what’s on my heart.
To hear that voice, my voice… as he did.
He also had a voice inside AND he had a vision.
So many times I think about when we are called to do something, do we step up to our calling and talk about stuff?
Every time Martin Luther kissed his wife and his beautiful babies goodbye he knew that it could be the last time that he would see them, but he believed so much in what he was called to do that he was willing to do everything. Thank you, Martin Luther King because I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you. I would not be living the life I’m living.
I would like to share another quick story with you. One day in January my middle son, Nathan, who was about 13 at the time, came home from school and we had the following conversation:
Nathan: “Dad, Do you know who Martin Luther King is?”
Me: “Yes, of course I do.”
Nathan: “He was a really great man, Dad.”
Me: “Yes, he was. Why do you say that?”
Nathan: “Well, if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be alive because you and Mom probably wouldn’t have met.”
And I almost get emotional every time I think of it. I have a mixed marriage, stuff like that. And that’s, man, when you think about, the barriers that he broke for us to live the lives that we live. So he is absolutely one of the top African-American black motivational speakers in my life. Hands down for sure.
Next we have a good good friend of mine Rod Hairston.
Rod went to war for us. He’s a very powerful motivational speaker. He works with the NFL but I actually met him through the network marketing company I work with.
He has a program called ‘Healthy Mind and Body’, which is a game changer. As a fitness professional and motivational speaker (I’ve been a fitness professional for 39 years), when I met Rod and I heard about his program it just all made sense to me. It’s what I’ve been trying to talk to people for years about.
If you don’t get right in your mind everything else fails, right?
He has this daily program and I’ve actually taken his top 50 program. You go and spend four days, eight hours a day, going in-depth – doing some real soul searching. He takes you to a whole other level. Within just a few months of implementing the lessons I had learned from Rod, we had literally quintupled our business. We’ve become very good friends now – he’s such a champion, with a servant heart.
And I just love talking to him because no matter which way you go, you’re not gonna get away with anything with Rod. And he just has an amazing gift of how he turns things around and makes you see the better way. He makes you see the better you AND he brings out the better in you. So, I am extremely grateful for Rod and having him in my life.
Learn more about Rod Hairston
Another person I’ve had the pleasure to meet is Sugar Ray Leonard.
I was one of the original Billy Blanks students, you know – Billy Blanks the ‘Tae Bo’ person (he’s coming up next) and that’s where I met Sugar Ray. We used to take the same Tae Bo class together, became friends and hung out together at his house and Superbowl parties and stuff like that.
I just used to love to sit there and listen to him talk.
To see where he came from; what he fought for…
He was just such an amazing example. He was always leading with the way, not just talking it but walking it. And, I used to be inspired by him, man. I used to look forward to seeing him in class and I would copy him, copy his moves. I wanted to be Sugar Ray Leonard!
He was definitely inspirational in my life.
Onto Billy Blanks, or Mr Blanks as I call him. It would feel weird to me to even call him by his first name.
He was my master.
I learnt TaeKwonDo from him, but he was pivotal. When I met Mr Blanks, at that time in my life I was walking a really bad road. I was, God had taken me to the top of my career in Hollywood but I was destroying it quick.
I was out there partying like a rock star. Making very bad choices.
I’ve always been into my fitness, so I would get in shape for four days, party for three days, get in shape for four days, party for three days…
And one of my friends said, “Man, Real you need to come check out this class. It’s awesome. It’s gonna be a lot of fun.” At the end of each class Mr Blanks would sit there and he would share. He would speak from his heart – it was like the world stopped and he was talking to me.
Mr Blanks said, “You have a gift. You can do greatness with your gift or you can do destruction with your gift. Why are you wasting your gift?”
I knew he was talking to the room but it felt like he was talking right to me, and I’m like, “Man, I heard that and it cut me deep.” The very next day was the beginning of my upswing – I jumped all in. Me and Mr Blanks became very close friends. I was one of the originals there. I’m on all his videos. And, we did several movies together. I did a movie with my iguana, I did a movie with my parrot with him. We travelled together. He was very instrumental in changing my life on so many different levels. And we’re still friends today.
I’d known him a while before I found out something that truly amazed me. To cut a long story short, I found out he didn’t know how to read or write, and I was like, “Wow, this man has built a multi, multi-million dollar industry, the most successful fitness professional in the world and he didn’t even know how to read or write!”
He came from a family of 13/14/15 or so and they grew up in a single house in Chicago, a single room house or something. Such a powerful man; motivational and inspirational. He’s gone on to become one of the most powerful motivational African-American speakers in the world. He travels all over and still does the Tae Bo classes today. He’s changing lives and leaving an amazing legacy. I couldn’t be more honored to know him personally and I am so grateful for the blessings that he’s brought into my life.
And, in that class I also was blessed to meet Magic Johnson.
Magic Johnson used to come to Tae Bo and although I met him, I didn’t get to know him that well. But that didn’t stop me from being very inspired by him. He went through challenges like when he got AIDS, and stuff like that. The way he carried himself was amazing – he just kept showing up and fighting. It was very inspiring to me because that was huge back then, and he could’ve gone many different ways. The way he handled himself showed me ways that I needed to handle myself.
I’m a big people watcher, seeing how they do things, and if I like what I see I’m gonna to do the same thing.
More recently I was at a network marketing event called GoPro and he was the keynote speaker. And man, I had no idea and I don’t think a lot of people do. Not only is he an amazing person, and an amazing motivational black speaker, he is one of the most powerful in the world.
He owns Starbucks, he owns his own TV station, he owns his own radio station. And just to see him in that moment, and to hear that, was not only mind-boggling but incredibly inspiring.
One of the biggest gifts I got from Magic Johnson was about knowing your avatar.
I’ll give you a quick example. He went to the owner of Starbucks and said “You know what? African-American and Latin American people, they drink coffee too, okay?” Because really there wasn’t any Starbucks in those areas. And he said, “I’m gonna partner with you. I’ll pay half. I’m gonna open up Starbucks in African-American and Latin areas.” Through this ‘know your customer’ philosophy, his new Starbucks made more per customer than the original Starbucks. Can you imagine that?
He knew his avatar. You don’t see no scones in any of his Starbucks. You see sweet potato pie, Tamales etc, whatever is in his avatar. You’re not hearing like Led Zeppelin or any music like that. You’re gonna hear Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson. So just by knowing his avatar he made more money, AND also made his franchises more successful. I believe at this point he’s gone and just sold them.
He has done this for many businesses. Just very smart and very inspiring.
Muhammad Ali, I mean, come on. Muhammad Ali float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
Knowing what he went through with the draft and how he stood up for what he believed in, leads to the biggest take away I get from Muhammad Ali:
Don’t accept the no. Don’t let people tell you don’t do this or you’ll never amount to this etc.
Be who you’re supposed to be. Stay where you’re supposed to be.
I’ve lived in that world as most of us have. I don’t make excuses, I don’t play the racism card and neither did he, and I like that. He fought for it. People wouldn’t give him the arena that he wanted so he went out and created it. He created a character. He went out there, he got loud, he got noisy till they couldn’t ignore him. And he became one of the greatest fighters in the world.
Not only did he set a great example, he was also a great motivational speaker.
Sadly he got Parkinson’s which my dad also got. I went through that battle with my dad so I know, and for him to carry on like he did to the end, was amazing. Very inspiring.
Now we are reaching my top three, or perhaps top four.
Chris Gardner – do you know his story?
Have you seen the movie “Pursuit of Happiness” Will Smith was the actor who played Chris Gardener.
A homeless man, a single Dad. I have so much mad respect for him and love how he has become such a great motivational speaker. Not many men step up the way he did. Mom’s step up but the men don’t step up, you know? If you’re a single man the child is usually left with the Mom and the Dad leaves and walks away.
Chris stepped up and both his story and his words are so inspiring to me.
I’m grateful to him and I’m grateful for the challenges that he walked through to help me be who I am.
And, of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about Les Brown. I mean, come one, he’s one of the greatest black motivational speakers in the world.
I may not know Les Brown personally but I know he’s had some major challenges for the past several years – challenges that would take most people out of their game, but he continues to show love.
He continues to be servant.
He continues to bring messages that inspire people daily, and what a legacy he’s leaving behind. One of the most famous Les Brown quotes is:
Help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours.
I listen to his audio books, I listen to his audiotapes. He’s definitely one of the top people in my head daily when I’m looking for motivation and inspiration. And I’m extremely grateful for him.
I haven’t personally met him yet, but it’s top on my bucket list – to meet him and thank him for everything that he’s done.
So I’m down to my last two and for me, my list of top black motivational speakers would not be complete without ET,”Eric Thomas”.
I pretty much listen to Eric Thomas at some point every single day.
Rise and grind, I’m a grinder. I got that from him. There’s so much of him in me. I always look for people that are where I want to be or where I want to go, and I study them. I’ve studied Eric Thomas like it’s my job.
I’m so grateful for him.
He came from absolutely the other side of the tracks. He couldn’t read or write. He fought when people told him that he couldn’t. He brings a message and he’s helped so many kids to be who they are to be. That’s his main thing. Talking to colleges and stuff like that.
He does other things as well but that’s his main niche or how he got started.
He’s got that video. The kid going into the water, showing up and wanting to be the best he could be. The guy tells him to walk up to the water. He had a suit on. He told him to keep walking, he told him to keep walking and he put his head under the water, held him there until he nearly passed out and he said (one of THE most famous Eric Thomas quotes):
“If you want to succeed as bad as you wanna breathe then you’ll be successful”
That’s who Eric Thomas is if you don’t know him.
I’d love to meet Eric Thomas, it’s on the top of my bucket list. Just to personally thank him not only for what he’s done for me but for my kids AND my grandkids who aren’t even alive yet. For the generations and generations of champions lives he’s changed, so they have a legacy to leave behind.
When I think about how he speaks into young men and young women, and just calls them on their crap. Simply tells them to step up.
I let my kids listen to him because the way the world is right now they need to listen and learn from the motivational speakers I’ve shared to you today. I need to fill their minds positivity, because today’s society is bombarding them with too much negativity from too many directions.
If you just listen to one of the people I’ve mentioned today, get one of their books, get their one of their audios, that would be fabulous start and could change your life.
Yes, the number one black African-American motivational speaker that’s been the biggest influence in my life today, and continues to be the biggest influence in my life is my dad.
Cyril Nathan Andrews, AKA Andy. He’s not with us anymore but he taught me that’s there’s no such word as C-A-N-T.
He taught me don’t dream, dream big.
I remember sitting in his lap and he was counting hundred dollar bills. He told me that I could do anything that I wanted to do.
My dad always let me know that I was awesome, that I was a champion. That’s where I got that from.
He always spoke greatness into me. I could never do any wrong in his eyes – he was always so proud of me.
He wasn’t my real dad by birth, but to me he was my real dad. He was there from day one. He always treated me like I was his born and only son and I was. I became a fitness professional because of him. I remember back in the day when he used to roll around on the floor and do push-ups and sit-ups and all that crazy stuff, and I didn’t even know what that was at the time. And he used to flex and stuff and I used to think he was crazy, but he was planting the seeds in me to become a fitness professional, something I’m extremely grateful for. We did everything together:
- He bought me my first bench press.
- He taught me how to drive.
- He taught me how to open doors for women.
- He taught me how to be polite.
- He taught me how to stand up when adults entered the room.
- He taught me how to treat women with respect.
- The main thing he taught me was “Never lie. Never break a promise and nobody ever messes with your Mom.” (I lied to my dad once. He hit me so hard. I flew across through room. But I was a good learner. He only had to hit me once.)
We just had a great relationship.
The biggest inspiration for me was the way he coped with Parkinson’s, which started when he was 62. What’s crazy is, he died 25 years later at 87 – even the doctor said: “Your Dad’s been amazing to battle Parkinson’s like he did for 25 years.” And both me and my Mom looked at each other and we said, “25 years?” ’cause we thought he got Parkinson’s at 70. But for eight years he hid it from us.
And I quickly replayed in my mind I realized that all of a sudden when I’d come home to visit my dad was doing all these coin tricks, he was doing all these card tricks. He had this certain place where he’d always lean on the edge of the thing. I just thought my dad was being dad. But he was doing, he was hiding the shaking. He had found creative ways to hide his shake. Obviously being such a proud man and everything.
Even when he was in the hospital. I’d walk in and there’s my dad doing chin-ups on that triangle thing. He’d like say, “Hey, son. Push against the front of my legs.” So he could do leg extensions. Then pull against the back and he’s always be like, “One more rep, son. One more rep, son.” And I remember that to this day and I use that every day in my life.
One more rep, son. One more rep, son. You got this. You’re a champion.
Right the very end my dad’s two loves were working out and music. And even when he couldn’t do anything he’d just be that mess Parkinson’s makes of you, he reminded me of Muhammad Ali in so many ways ’cause he just fought. He fought right to the end. Even in that last week or two, dad went to the little gym in the hospital. We got him in the wheelchair. It took a couple of people to get him in. Had to use a little lift to get him out of the bed. We wheeled him down to the gym, and I tell you it was the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen. Once he got in that he would stand up on his own. He’d walk over to the weights, and it was like he wasn’t even sick, it was just amazing to watch. He said, Son, one more rep. I got to get my work out one.” And my dad always wanted to get his workout on.
It was the same thing with music. Get him to a piano, sit him up on the bench, lift his hands up and put him on the keys and it was like watching Liberace play. And when it was over you put back in the chair and he wasn’t even there anymore.
So, that was my dad.
That was my hero.
Definitely my number one motivational person in my life.
Unfortunately my dad doesn’t have any books or audio’s for you to get to listen to, but through me you will hear his story time and time again. I will carry on his legacy. We actually do have a book that he wrote and I finished called “Body by Real“, that book is available.
You know what, if you want it, I’ll put the link below and I will send you my top secret recipes that I use to help people get the best results in their challenges that me and my dad created together. That’ll be my gift to you for showing up today and checking this out. I appreciate all of you that show up and support me.
I wanted to write this article to share with you that I am who I am because of all of these people I shared with you today. And I am extremely grateful.
There isn’t a day that I don’t go by where I want to just say thank you to each and every one of them for their yes. For being obedient to their calling and showing up and pioneering the path. Chopping down the trees so that not only I can live the life that I live today, that I can walk the walk, that I can be who I was called to be, and, millions and millions and millions of others of us can enjoy our lives and the freedom that we do today.
Who are the ‘motivational speakers’ who have impacted your life? Leave a comment below!
So, once again, it’s coach Real. I’m out. I appreciate you. God bless.
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