GAP Otis Winston | Choosing Our Attitude

 

Otis Winston will say, “My mom went through a lot, and she didn’t take any of it out on us.” Glenn and Otis talk in depth at how choosing our attitude can impact those around us in a positive or negative way.

Show Notes:

2:32 – Otis introduction

5:37 – Otis’ number one attitude coach

11:30 – What White people can do to help lift up and heal Black people

28:24 – Who inspired Otis the most during his time at Ohio State

36:19 – The story behind his acting career and the strategy he did to get to where he is now

42:28 – Attitude lesson of childbirth

43:07 – Attitude lesson at 10

45:14 – Attitude lesson at 20

46:08 – Attitude lesson at 30

47:31 – Attitude lesson at 40

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Ladies and gentlemen, we have a great guest. First of all, please remember to like and share this. Please get everybody you know to tune into this because if you need to get attitude, this is the place to be. In this episode, we are with the former Buckeye, Otis Winston, whose dreams are coming to fruition. Back in the 1990s, Otis was a household name in Ohio State’s athletic department. He was not only the captain of the basketball team for Ohio State, but he was also the captain of the track team. Winston’s dream wasn’t really about sports. His dream was to be an actor.

I know GAPer, many of you are where you are. You’re trying to find out how to bridge the gap from who you are to who you want to become, from where you are to where you want to go. I saw this gentleman on live and I said, “Here’s a guy that can help our audience to get from where they are to where they want to go.” It’s because he went from one world to a totally different world. He’s here to share, talk, teach, and help us understand what it takes to get from where you are to where you want to go. We’re going to bring him up now, the wonderful Otis Winston. Otis, welcome to the show.

Thank you for having me. I’m glad to be here.

It’s all good. I’m so happy that you decided to share some time with us. Talk to us a little bit about what I said in the opening. What was the number one thing when you said, “I want to be an actor,” and everybody looked at you and said, “What?” I’m guessing that’s what they said.

They said, “Are you serious?” Especially living in Columbus, Ohio, I’m one of those guys who don’t care what people have to say. If I believe something and if I put my mind to it, I believe I can accomplish anything, especially with God on my side. It wasn’t frustrating for me. It was actually inspiring because when you tell me I can’t do something, my job is to show you what God can do through me. It really lit that fire.

When did it hit you over the head and you said, “I want to be an actor?” Were you watching a movie or TV? Has it always been deep inside your soul? What was it?

What’s crazy is that I never knew this is what I wanted to be. I remember Steven Spielberg said something in one of his talks. He said, “A dream doesn’t come from in front of you. It comes from behind you. It sneaks up on you.” My dream snuck up on me because being the youngest of four boys, I had older brothers. I followed in their footsteps. They were athletes, so I wanted to be like my brothers. I kept following what I knew could get me out of the situation I was in. My family didn’t have a lot growing up.

As a young Black kid in Youngstown, Ohio in the projects of Westlake, sports was my way out. When my mom moved us from Youngstown to Toronto, I dove into sports and it became a safe haven because so much else was going on around me. I couldn’t talk until I was eleven. People told me I would never be able to properly talk. What saved me and kept me was TV. I would always watch television. I would get my little black and white TV. I would put it in the closet and shut myself off from the world, not knowing that one day, I would be on the same type of television that I was watching.

Hardly, the same type anymore. Now that we’re all digitized and on the big screen. If you got a 12-inch TV, you’re wearing it on your wrist most likely.

That’s true. I’ve got a bigger TV on my phone.

My kids don’t even watch TV. They watch on their phone now. It’s absolutely insane. Let’s talk about growing up in the projects. What that was like? What is the attitude in the projects? Who in the projects helped you with your attitude, if anyone? Maybe nobody did. I was the youngest of four boys too.

We have a lot in common.

Yes, we do.

The projects made me who I am. I didn’t know we didn’t have money. It was home. I didn’t know I was in the projects. My mom never made us feel like we were in the projects because we were so rich with love. She had so much love and she still has that. She gave us so much love. There were nights when we didn’t have lights and things of that nature, but she always made it fun. That’s why it didn’t deter me. It actually inspired me because of what I saw her doing. I saw her working two jobs to get us out, and then when we got out, I saw her working two jobs to keep us from going back.

That’s the thing that I love the most. She was my biggest inspiration growing up because when she got us out, she never let us go back. People usually go backward. People usually stay there. The project is not supposed to be a permanent thing. It’s supposed to be a passing-through. My mom made sure that’s what it was for us. I learned so much about family, life, wanting, determination, and hard work. I learned so much from it growing up.

You would consider her to probably be your number one attitude coach when you think about her attitude. I think you summed it up, but I’ll let you think about it. What was her attitude? What did she teach you about attitude and why did she end up going to Toronto?

It’s hard not to get emotional when I think about my mom because of the type of woman she was. I saw her go through so much. My dad put my mom through a lot in our younger years. She didn’t take any of that out on us. No matter what he put her through, she always made us feel we were the best things in the world. I’m the type of parent that I saw her be to me. I don’t take anything out on my kids. I can have the worst day in the world and they give me the brightest smile. I learned from her that it’s not about how you start, but it’s how you finish.

GAP Otis Winston | Choosing Our Attitude
Choosing Our Attitude: It’s not about how you start; it’s about how you finish.

 
I said this in my interview with Ken. I’m not going to be a product of my environment. I’m going to make my environment a product of me. I can impact people’s lives. I don’t need money to impact people’s lives. My attitude can impact people’s lives. My work ethic and hard work. I saw my mom working. I used to go help my mom clean houses, and then come home and help her clean ours, and watch her make full-course meals for us after she worked day and night at somebody else’s house just to put food on our table. She’s my queen. She is my hero and my inspiration. Everything that I did growing up, I did it because I saw her do it for us.

How did she end up in Toronto? What was that all about?

She ended up in Toronto because my dad ended up getting arrested. It was hard because my dad was a pastor. He was a street man. He did all the things on the streets. I remember when he got arrested. We just moved to Toronto and they surrounded the house. It was embarrassing because we just moved to this new city and the cops surrounded the house to try to catch my dad. Until this day, I still don’t know how my dad got out of that house without getting caught. They could not find him. The embarrassment that they tried to bring towards us did not work. My dad went to prison and he spent most of my childhood and teenage years in prison. He didn’t get out until I was nineteen years old. My mom took the mantle. After we moved to Toronto, he was gone for another 10 to 11 years. During that time, I never ever saw my mom give up.

What was the purpose you went to Toronto? Was it for his work or her work?

He had moved there to take over a church but then he got arrested. Someone else took over the church. We then stayed there because she didn’t want us back in Youngstown. He wanted us in Toronto. I went from an all-Black town to an all-White town. That’s another story.

We tackle diversity and inclusion issues on the show. These trophies sitting right over here were because of what we did after the George Floyd murder. You should listen to those stories of Black America. It’s good. Talk to me about your story of going from an all-Black environment to an all-White environment. Give me your thoughts on race. Give me your thoughts on what White people can do to help lift up Black people. These are the types of questions we are asking during these interviews. I’m not afraid to talk about it because the whole thing I learned is that we need to hear and listen more. I’d love to get your opinion on the problem and the solution. What can White America do to help heal us?

When I moved to Toronto, it was difficult. As I said, I still had to stutter. Here I am, a kid who stuttered and got made fun of a lot, and I moved to an all-new city. Now I’m the only Black kid in my class. I’m seen as different. I remember my first experience when it came to sports. I walked to a basketball tryout and it was all White kids. I come in and the coach is like, “Now we got a baller.” By the end of the day, he realized that I sucked. I didn’t know how to play basketball. It was awful. He told me I sucked. That was what hurt.

I walked home and I was upset. I remember crying while walking home. I got in the house and I was crying. My mom was like, “What’s wrong?” I said, “I went through this tryout and the coach told me I sucked.” She said some things to me. These words changed my life. She said, “Did you?” I said, “Excuse me.” She said, “Did you suck?” I said, “Yeah but he shouldn’t have said that. He’s a grown man. He shouldn’t tell me I suck.” She said, “One or two things can happen. You’re either going to listen to what he said or you’re going to prove him wrong.” For a year straight, every day, I had a basketball in my hand. I had a calendar and I circled that day.

A year later, as a seventh grader, I walked in. A different coach was there but the same coach was there watching. I ended up being the best basketball player on the team. I never relinquished that title until I graduated from that high school. I wanted them to remember my name because I wanted to show them, “I don’t care what you say about me. I’m going to show you I can be what I put my mind to.”

To answer the question about how I was affected by the Black and the White. I always tell people, “I got the best of both worlds.” I knew what it was like to grow up in an all-Black town, and I knew what it was like to grow up in an all-White town. I had to learn how to adjust, to listen, and to be heard. The biggest thing is me learning how to be heard. What happens is most times, people don’t know how to be heard so they always yell. It’s hard for someone to hear you when you’re yelling.

When you learn how to communicate and properly communicate with people, they learn how to listen. What I had to do is I had to learn how to speak my language so that they could understand. What’s going on in America is a lot of White people don’t understand the language that we’re speaking. I remember I talked to a friend of mine and I said, “Have you ever been driving with your son and a cop got behind you and you start sweating?” He said, “No.” I said, “It’s because you’ve never driven as a Black man.”

Most times, people don’t know how to be heard, so they always yell. It’s hard for someone to hear you when you’re yelling. When you learn how to properly communicate with people, they learn how to listen. Share on X

The definition of White privilege.

A lot of people don’t even understand that it’s real. People think it’s not real. I remember I got into it with my Godmother who’s a White lady. She helped raise me and I love her dearly. She was one of the reasons that I turned out the way I turned out. She got mad at me during the presidential election. She completely stopped talking to me. She was like, “I don’t want to talk to you. I can’t believe, whatever.” I called her and I said, “I’m just checking on you.” She says, “My dear child, I can’t believe you called me.” I said, “Why wouldn’t I call you?”

She said, “I was so mean towards you.” I said, “You weren’t mean. This is how I look at it. You probably don’t understand what I go through as a Black man but you love me. My love for you is far greater than any political thing you can think of because I know what you’ve done for me. I love you beyond what you think.” The Bible tells us about unconditional love. People right now are doing a lot of conditional love. I love you if you like this and I love you if you like that. Even if I don’t like this or don’t like that, does that make me a bad person?

I love you as long as you agree with everything I say.

I’m a grown man now, so I have my own mind. I have people that I’m trying to lead.

One of the things I asked in these interviews was this. If you could become King of America and create an agenda without Congress, what would be the one thing we could do to heal the racial divide in America? What do you think the one thing would be that you could say, “If we could do this, that might set the course a different way?” If you had the power to do it, what would you do?

First, they got to admit that there is a divide. A lot of people don’t even want to admit that there are issues. They don’t want to admit that the judicial system is broken. They don’t want to admit that there’s a far left and a far right. They don’t want to admit that we’ve had issues with Black men being murdered and that it’s not okay for people to kill someone and then get off Scot-free because of a technicality or because the judicial system wasn’t designed to protect us. They got to admit first that there is an issue. They got to admit first that even when this constitution was written, it was written without Black people in mind. Until that happens, we’re going to continue to have this divide.

I’m watching a movie. It’s called Yellowstone. I love that movie. The reason I love that show is that it deals with a lot of things from land being taken from the Native Americans and all kinds of different stuff. Until we admit that Black people, Brown people, and minorities were wronged and are not seen properly the way they should be seen, then we’re going to continue to have this issue and this divide. This divide is real. It’s sad because we’re supposed to be the most powerful country in the world. This is supposed to be the land of opportunity.

GAP Otis Winston | Choosing Our Attitude
Choosing Our Attitude: Until we admit that black people, brown people, and minorities were wronged and are not seen properly the way they should be seen, then we’re going to continue to have this issue and this divide.

 
We’re supposed to be the most enlightened country in the world. You can check out my episode, The 8:46 Interview: Stories of Black America. Anybody that’s tuning in that hasn’t tuned into that, do that. We did an 8:46 with Les Brown too. What he had to say about racism and the reckoning that is going on is fascinating and deep. It will cause you to pause and think. I didn’t mean to go down that rabbit hole with you, but I always think it’s so important. God puts in our hearts what we should be talking about in this episode. Maybe somebody heard you speak and some better things were going to happen.

I’m glad you did. I remember a movie, A Time to Kill, when Matthew McConaughey at the end gave his speech. His very last thing was, “Imagine, she was White,” and everybody’s eyes got big. I remember I did a Short called Split Decision. I was in a store in Indiana and I was walking through the store. While I was walking through the store, me and this guy kept passing each other but we didn’t know each other. We kept passing.

Finally, we come down the aisle together. He got this Nazi symbol tatted right on his neck. It’s this symbol of hate. He got it showing. He’s branding it like a badge of honor. I’m like, “This is different.” I looked at him and he looked at me and we were staring at each other. This is like a stare-off. I looked at him and I was like, “What’s up?” He looked at me and said, “What’s up?” We did a Short on it. It’s on YouTube. It’s called Split Decision, and so much was going through me. Emmett Till, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and the Holocaust. There’s so much pain that that symbol represents. He was branding it like a badge of honor.

I looked at him and he looked at me. He balled his fists and I balled my fists and I’m looking at him dead in his eyes. I say, “It’s a free hug day.” Before he can react, I go in and hug him. I stop and I walk off. We did a short on it. The reason I did that is because he’s branding that. He was broadcasting that brand like a badge of honor. He probably got in so many fights over it. In my mind, I said, “What can I do differently to impact this man? I can either give him the same reaction he’s been given, or I can give him something different.” At that moment, I made a split decision to give him something different.

You gave him a hug and then he had no idea what the hell hit him.

I walked away and he was standing there like, “What just happened?”

Did anybody see that? Was there a video?

It blew my mind. This happened years ago. That’s why we did the short film. As soon as it happened, I wrote it and I put it on Facebook. My friend Mike called me. They pulled it up and he called me and said, “We need to do this.” I went back home to Toronto to film this.

How long is the film?

It’s only three minutes.

I’ll be dog gone. My crack producer, not my crackhead producer, but Jason, he always knows how to dial stuff up, which is good. Let’s talk about Ohio State if it’s okay. You’re in Toronto, you’re a superstar, and you get a full ride to Ohio State. Is that correct, or were you walked on? What happened there?

What happened is I was recruited at Ohio State for basketball and track. I couldn’t take a track scholarship because it’s a minor sport. If I took track, I couldn’t do basketball, but I can take basketball and still do track. They had brought in Derek Anderson on the last scholarship. I turned lemons into lemonade. I remember even when I got to Ohio State, my high school coach called me up. I go up there and the news camera was there and he says, “You’re going to Ohio State.” I’m like, “Wait. I haven’t discussed this with anybody yet.” Now it’s out there in the paper. I’m like, “I got to do it.”

I ended up being a walk-on that wasn’t a walk-on if that makes sense. I was on the team and they recruited me, but they didn’t have scholarships available. After the first year, that’s when I was able to do training tables and all that stuff. I get there and it was some of the hardest years of my life because of what I was going through with basketball, me and Coach Hayes. I wanted to go to Ohio State because I’ve never been coached by a Black coach. He was my first Black coach and he put me through the wringer mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I couldn’t figure it out. I felt like he didn’t like me at one point. I remember I even thought about transferring.

This is when my dad came home and it was my freshman year. I came home for Christmas and I told my mom I’m not going back because it was so hard. My dad was upstairs and he told my mom, “I want Otis to come upstairs and talk to me.” I come upstairs to talk to my dad. This was the best advice my dad ever gave me. He was like, “I heard that you’re not trying to go back.” I’m still mad at my dad at this time. I said, “No, I’m not going back.” He said, “I get it. You’re angry and mad.” I was like, “Whatever.”

He’s like, “Why don’t you want to go back?” I was like, “I don’t want to go back because you see what’s going on.” Long story short, he looked at me and he says, “Son, I’m going to tell you something. If you quit now and run, you’ll be running for the rest of your life. Never let anyone see you sweat or never allow anyone to make you quit.” I went back and I said, “I don’t care what this man says.” He didn’t know I heard this, but I remember walking in and he said, “Otis Winston will never play at Ohio State.” I remember hearing him say that to the coach.

If you quit now and run, you’ll be running for the rest of your life. Never let anyone see you sweat or make you quit. Share on X

In my junior year, I started. In my senior year, I registered because I qualified for the Olympic trials in ‘96 down in Atlanta. When I qualified for the Olympic trials, I registered for basketball. I didn’t get one invite to a game. I wasn’t even allowed to sit on the bench with the team. The only way I could get to the game is Coach Russ Rogers got me tickets. I would sit in the stands to watch half the guys who I helped recruit play. When I came back my senior year, I didn’t even have a jersey.

Were you elected captains by your teammates and Coach Hayes? He was there the whole time. Two things. 1) When you think about your time at Ohio State, what teammate possessed an attitude that inspired you that maybe taught you something? 2) Who was the best player you ever saw play when you were playing?

I got both of those answers. The one who inspired me the most was Ricky Dudley. He was my big brother, and still my big brother. He was slick and amazing. He was a two-sport athlete as well. He ended up going to football after his sophomore year. He did football in his junior and senior years. Slick was the one who started saying, “Don’t let nobody take your confidence.” That’s when my momentum and my attitude shifted because I always did great with track. I was an All-American in my freshman year in track. Basketball was my struggle because I knew how good I was and I felt I wasn’t given the opportunity. Ricky Dudley’s mentorship helped me the most.

You balled out. You’re fifth-year or senior year. Who is it where you were like, “This guy is working me hard.” Do you remember?

The best player I saw wasn’t even in my senior year. It was Lynn Robinson. He’s a big dog from Purdue. He dropped 41 on us. It was like, “What is this dude doing? He’s ridiculous.”

He was so good.

It was almost two of them. It was him and Albert Cheney. Those two were phenomenal to me.

Did you ever get to know them or ever reach out to them or anything?

No. You want to know who I got to know better than anyone. It was Bobby Knight.

You did get to know Coach Knight.

Coach Knight was the only coach after I graduated that helped me continue to go on.

No kidding. How did that happen?

He knew my high school teacher, Frank Wilson. Coach Knight knew about me because he heard about me in high school and I ended up going to Ohio State. We talked a lot. After I graduated, I reached out to him and he got right back to me and we formed a friendship. He was Coach Knight. I don’t care what anybody says. He does antics and has a bad rap, but behind closed doors, he’s the most solid person you will ever meet in your life.

Isn’t that cool? Did you like playing at IU or was that tough?

I loved playing at Assembly Hall. I love playing on the road. To me, this is what you’re built for and strive to do. That’s what I worked for those moments and those times like that.

Were you an Olympian? Did you end up participating in the Atlanta Olympics?

I didn’t make it to the Olympics. I made it to the Olympic trials. It was so frustrating because we were supposed to jump at 7:00. I was a rookie. It was my first time there. By 6:50, we’re ready. Everyone is loose and we were ready to jump, and then we didn’t even jump until 9:00. The only ones who were ready were the veterans. They were the ones who were like, “Let the young boys wear themselves out. We’re going to sit back because we know this thing is going to take another 2 to 3 hours.” We didn’t know about it. It was a bad experience. It was the first time I’d ever jumped without playing basketball. I shouldn’t have done that because that was my routine. Successful people have routines. I deviated from my routine because I listened to what everybody else told me I needed to do.

GAP Otis Winston | Choosing Our Attitude
Choosing Our Attitude: Successful people have routines.

 
Were you a triple jumper or high jumper

I was a high jumper.

How tall?

7 feet and 4.5 inches. I went 7 feet in high school.

Was that in the Big Ten?

I was a 5-time Big Ten champ and 2-time All-American.

You were around some elite athletes. Basketball players are awesome, but so are track. Who in that arena of track had an attitude that influenced you, and who was the most outstanding track athlete you got to see firsthand?

The most outstanding track athlete I think that I’ve ever seen, especially the best high school track athlete that ever come out of Ohio was Chris Nelloms. He went 45 in high school. I remember when he got shot and came back after he got shot. He did what he needed to do. Chris Nelloms was amazing. He was phenomenal.

Did he go to Ohio State?

He went to Ohio State. We took seven athletes down to the NCAA and came second. We lost first I think by two points.

Chris’s gun incident, was it random? Was it the wrong place at the right time?

I have no idea. I never talked to him about it. He got shot and he came back with a fury, and still was able to run as fast as he was able to run. I got to see him but I also got to see Michael Johnson when I was down in Atlanta. That was a sight to see as well. The ones who influenced me would be my entire track team, Chris Nellom, Chris Sanders, Butler By’not’e, Richard Jones, Aaron Payne, Todd Tremble, Jordan Gray, and Robert Gary. Those were my boys. I got the best of both worlds. When I went to basketball, I had Lawrence Funderburke, Jamie Skelton, Rickey Dudley, Greg Simpson, Derrick Anderson, Charles Mackins, Antonio Watson, Jimmy Ratliff, and Tom Brandewies. There were so many people who impacted me.

Ultimately, Ohio State is maybe some of the most tormented times in your life, but just like anything, on the other side of adversity is the biggest blessing you could ever imagine.

It made me into the man I am. Someone said, “What would you say if you saw Coach Hayes today?” I said, “I would say thank you. You made me who I am today. You made me know that one man’s no doesn’t stop you. That’s his no.” You can change a person’s mind because it’s how you see yourself, not how they see you. One time, how he saw me affected how I saw myself. It wasn’t until I looked in the mirror and said, “I don’t care how he sees me. I’m going to see myself differently.”

Don’t let one man’s “no” stop you. Share on X

That’s a message that every GAPer needs to know. If you are sitting here tuning into this interview, it’s time to stop letting other people define you and judge you. It’s time you look in the mirror, have a talk with yourself, and say, “It’s time for me to see myself,” which is great. Thanks for indulging us in all the athletic stuff because I’m a former Jack myself. Let’s talk about your career as an actor now. How did you break in? What was the story? What was your plan? What was your strategy to get to where you are now with acting?

At first, I didn’t have a strategy. I tell this story because it’s pivotal. I remember March 2nd, 2010, I got laid off from my job. I was a software computer engineer. I was working as a computer consultant and working at National City at that time before they became PNC. I got laid off and I was making great money. Two days later, at the same job, my ex-wife now sent me divorce papers to my job. I lost my job and I got served divorce papers all in the same week. I remember I met a friend by the name of Robi Reed. She was a casting director and still is.

She’s a casting director for BET now. I met her and she’s like, “Why don’t you come out to LA and clear your head?” I went out to LA to visit. She asked me to meet her at an event she was working at. When I was walking into the place, the director of the show was walking out. The director looked at me and said, “Are you the guest actor?” I said, “No ma’am. I’m here to see somebody.” She said, “Are you sure?” I said, “I’m positive. I’ve never acted the day before in my life.” She said, “Okay.” Unbeknownst to me, the guest actor never showed up. The director asked Robi if she think I would do it.

She’s like, “You need to adlib and stuff like that.” I’m like, “I don’t know anything.” She said, “Go out there and adlib.” We went back and forth and she said, “Just do it.” At the end of the day, I ended up doing it. The scene that we ended up doing was from Jerry McGuire. No one knew Jerry McGuire was my favorite movie at the time. I knew that movie verbatim, word to word. Here I am, doing my favorite scene from my favorite movie in front of these directors and producers.

It’s got to be the “Show me the money” scene. Is that right?

It’s exactly what the scene was. I ended up doing it. When we got done, Robi and Tasha Smith walked up to me. They were like, “I know you like writing, but I think you need to be in front of the camera first. That will open up the doors for you behind the cameras.” I ended up coming home and on the day of my divorce, I was walking out of the courtroom. I get a phone call from Robi. I had booked my first speaking role on the TV show called The Game. The day my divorce was final, I booked my first acting gig. They flew me to Atlanta and I did it. I ended up doing an extra gig on a movie called Oz The Great and Powerful.

People were stunned. They were like, “You had a speaking role. Why do you want to be an extra?” I just wanted to be around it. I would stay late and I would help people learn how to march because I didn’t know tall people didn’t have rhythm. I’m 6’ 6” and I have rhythm. Everybody was 6’ 5” and taller and no one could march. I would stay late only making $100 a day as an extra helping the other tall guys learn how to march.

One day, a guy was there watching and I’m like, “Am I in trouble?” The guy said, “Can you come here for a second?” I said, “Yes, sir.” I walked over and he said, “What are you doing?” I said, “I’m teaching him how to march.” He said, “Why?” I said, “Because if we don’t get it right, we’re going to spend a lot more time and waste money on this film.” He looked at me and he walked away. I come in to work the next day and the same guy says, “Otis, come here.” I walk over and he says, “My name is KC Hodenfield.” KC was the first AD. He ended up bumping me. I made more in the next two weeks than I made in the entire three months of the film.

At the end of the film, KC was like, “Take my number down. We never would’ve been able to do this movie without you. Keep in touch with me.” KC and I kept in touch. Here we are, eight films later. I’m doing a movie with him right now down in Atlanta with Pierce Brosnan called The Out-Laws. I got done doing Shazam! 2 with him in Atlanta. I did Venom and Venom 2 with him. It all happened because I was helping others do something.

Proximity doesn’t hurt either. That’s another success tip. You put yourself right in the middle of it and then look what happened. God’s grace sometimes shows in funny ways and on funny days. We are with Otis Winston. He is a Hollywood actor. He is a keynote speaker, an entrepreneur, a director, and a writer. He’s been in Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Games People Play, Shazam!, Shazam! 2, and Greenland. That was fun. Did you get to meet Shaq in Shazam?

Shazam is a DC film. Everyone can think about Shaq because they think it’s Kazaam. Shazam is the superhero.

Good for you. You probably love doing that. I want to respect your time. I’m going to wrap up our interview. Did you have fun with us?

I had an amazing time. Thank you.

I appreciate it. What we’re going to do now is how I end all of our interviews. It’s called Knowledge Through the Decades. We’re going to walk through your life and you’re going to tell me the attitude lesson you learned throughout each decade of your life. We’re going to start with childbirth. What do you believe the attitude lesson of childbirth is? Since you got so many kids and grandkids, you probably can come up with something.

During childbirth, what I learned is God is amazing. I learned how to be a man by watching my son being a young boy.

That’s so good. We haven’t gotten that answer before. That is right on time, prime time. That’s going to be in the square. I promise you. I want you to think back to being ten years old now in the projects. I want to know if you remember your third-grade teacher and what her name was. What happened to you at 10 or 11 that gave you an attitude lesson? Do you remember what that might be?

It was when I got in trouble for sticking up for my cousin. I got in trouble because I stood up to a bully. At that time, bullying wasn’t big and I looked like the bully because I beat up the bully but I got in trouble for doing the right thing. What I learned is that even sometimes doing the right thing can get you in trouble, especially if people don’t understand why you did the right thing.

GAP Otis Winston | Choosing Our Attitude
Choosing Our Attitude: Sometimes doing the right thing can get you in trouble, especially if people don’t understand why you did it.

 
Tough lesson. Ten-year-old bullying lessons are not easy. Was that in school or on a playground? Where was that?

It was on a playground. It was crazy because I’ve always been one of those “fight-first, ask questions later” types of kid. My cousin came up to me and he was like, “Such and such is picking with me.” This person always picked everybody. I was fed up. My cousin was older than me but I was the fighter. I walked up.

Do you remember that guy’s name? Have you ever talked to him in the past twenty years?

No, I haven’t spoken to him. Unfortunately, half the people who I grew up with in Youngstown, it was probably 19 of us, and only 3 of us are still alive.

Everybody else is dead.

I haven’t had the chance to talk to him.

He’s probably one of them then.

Yes. His name is Kumel. He was a good guy.

That’s crazy. Now you’re twenty. You’re at Ohio State and from Toronto. I can only imagine how much fun you were having at twenty years old. What was the attitude lesson at twenty?

The attitude lesson at twenty is never to give anybody your confidence. Never throw your confidence away no matter how hard it is to get on the court or to get seen. Never ever give anybody your confidence. People can’t take your confidence. You give it to them. They can’t take it. I gave it to my coach.

Never give anyone your confidence. Never throw your confidence away, no matter how hard it is to get on the court or to get seen. Share on X

That’s something every college kid should know. That’s brilliant. Holly, make sure you mark that and put it on the square. Let’s talk about age 30. Do you remember turning 30? Did you have a party? What was your attitude lesson at 30?

I didn’t have my first party until I was 41. My attitude lesson at 30 was how am I going to show these kids that their dad is worth smiling about when they talk about me?

What do you believe are the 1 or 2 answers to that question?

By being there. Being present. Not presents, but present. A lot of people want to shower their kids with presents and all their kids want them to do is be present. My son, I remember he did a speech in sixth grade. I was his hero. By the end of his speech, there was no dry eye in the place because I showed him that even if I had to go to Chicago and film, I would drive back the same day to catch his basketball games. I have to be present and I’ve been present in my children’s life.

That’s beautiful. You’re crushing this exercise by the way. This is so good. Are you 50 yet?

No. I’m 48.

This is going to be our last one then. Tell me about when you turned 40. What was your attitude lesson?

It’s okay to start over.

Tell us a little bit about that.

I was in Corporate America with a great job, making good money, having a nice house, and then everything went away. I went from a 4,600-square-foot home to a 700-square-foot apartment. I went from making $130,000 a year to making nothing. All I had was God, my children, and my dream. That’s all I had and his promise to me. I stuck to his promise. No matter what anybody said or how hard it got, I knew he promised.

My children’s names are Promised Star Winston and Reign Dawan Winston. If you put their names together, that’s what God promised. You get promised reign. That’s why I named my children what I named them. If I suffer with him, I will one day reign with him. He promised reign. No matter how much I went through, no matter what I went through, I will reign on this earth as well as in heaven with him.

You then started this acting thing at 41?

I got my first gig at 37 and then I went through a whole dry season. I got my first prominent speaking role at 46. I’m off to the races like Samuel Jackson.

I am not mad at you. We are with the future Oscar and Emmy Award-winning Otis Winston. He is dropping bombs on the show. You’ve been so giving, so good, so inspirational, and so hopeful. Your real-life account of what you were doing is going to help those people that are tuning in. We always like to end our show Otis with you giving us a message of hope and giving our GAPer something to think about, and feeling if you want to teach them. What it takes to bridge the gap from who you are to who you want to become, what is it? Basically, it’s just a message of hope. It’s your time to talk to each person that’s tuning into this individually to give them your pep talk.

What I always tell people is the thing on my shirt says F’o’CUSED. I remember when I first came up with this, it was f’O’cused. One day, I was in prayer and God said, “Are you bigger than your vision?” I said, “No.” He says, “Make the O small because that’s me and you. Make the O small and everything else around it bigger because your vision will always be bigger than yours. If you learn how to focus on me, I’ll teach you how to focus on your vision and bring it to pass.” That’s where F’o’CUSED came from.

Every day I wake up, I’m focused on my vision. Every day, you should wake up and be focused on what it is you want in life because people don’t understand what you want in life, you can accomplish and you can achieve. The last thing that I would say is this. I always have this saying. It’s on the back of all my shirts. It’s, “Never allow your talent to take you where your character can’t keep you.” Talent can get you in the door but character keeps you in the door.

GAP Otis Winston | Choosing Our Attitude
Choosing Our Attitude: Never allow your talent to take you where your character can’t keep you. Talent can get you in the door, but character keeps you in.

 
Character is what you have. At the end of the day, on my deathbed, when I die, when people come to my funeral and they walk up to my children, I want them to be able to say, “Your dad was a good man.” I want my kids to say, “No. My dad wasn’t a good man. He was a great man.” The only way they can say that is if I have a great character.

I love that. Otis, you have given us some character. You’ve built our character through this episode. We are so blessed and thankful for your words of wisdom. Please check out Otis Winston on all the social media sites and we’ll be finding Otis I’m sure collecting a trophy here very soon on national TV. God bless and namaste.

Bless you.
 

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