Terrence Jenkins, known commonly as Terrence J, spoke to NCCU students at the Rock the Mic Lecture on Sep. 14 at B.N. Duke Auditorium. Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Terrence J talks HBCUs, showbiz success at Rock the Mic

September 28, 2016

Nearly 900 people filled the North Carolina Central University B.N. Duke Auditorium on Sept. 14 to hear from actor and TV personality Terrence Jenkins, better known as Terrence J.

The lecture kicked off NCCU’s second annual Rock the Mic Lecture Series.

The crowd roared with excitement when it got its first glimpse of Jenkins as he unexpectedly walked on stage during the video introduction.

He thanked those involved in creating the video and said it was the best video about him he had ever seen.

“I love this campus,” Jenkins said. “In undergrad, I spent so much time on this campus. I was born in New York, but I grew up in Raleigh as well, and my mom rented a house out in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. So I remember driving to Durham.”

Jenkins emphasized the importance of historically black colleges and universities. North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University was the only school that took a chance on him and helped mold him, Jenkins said.

He proudly told the audience that he graduated from NC A&T as student body president with a 3.6 grade point average after facing academic probation his first year.

Jenkins went on to share personal story of perseverance.

After being rejected at a New York City audition for a Black Entertainment Television show, Jenkins and two friends drove to Atlanta to audition a second time the very next day.

He overcame several obstacles, pushing through the rejection and earned the BET job as a co-host on “106 & Park.”

“Several things occurred on that drive from New York to Atlanta,” Jenkins said. “One was that I was prepared. I knew exactly what was going to happen in the room because I had already gone through it. Two was that I had already accepted that ‘L.’ I already took a loss, and once you get over the fear of taking an ‘L,’ once you get over the fear being told ‘no,’ once you get over the fear of being rejected, there’s nothing else anyone can do to you. You can’t be rejected any more than you already have been.”

Struggles like that are a part of life and happen to everyone, Jenkins said. How people are able to respond and adjust to the obstacle determines what someone is able to accomplish.

Jenkins mother didn’t attend college, and his family didn’t have a lot of money, he said. Despite these challenges, he went on to become the first black E! News host.

Terrance J told students about his childhood, education, and experience with show business. Photo courtesy of IMDB.com
Terrance J told students about his childhood, education, and experience with show business Sept. 14. Photo courtesy of IMDB.com

Jenkins has appeared in several television shows and movies, including “The Game” on BET, “Stomp the Yard 2: Homecoming,” “Burlesque,” “Think Like a Man,” “Battle of The Year” and “Baggage Claim.” He also produced the film “The Perfect Match.”

Jenkins said his greatest accomplishment was being asked to come back and give a lecture at a school designed to aid in the success of African Americans.

“When I get calls to come back to HBCUs and see the future leaders, and the future generations, and the future that’s going to take over, there is absolutely nothing more exciting than that,” Jenkins said. “So I’m way happier to see you guys than you are to see me.”

The next Rock the Mic lecture features author and life coach Iyanla Vanzant Nov. 9 at B.N. Duke Auditorium.

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