( ENSPIRE Man Code 101 ) Jeremy J. Johnson Talks About Applaud You Talent Group, LLC and “Intimacy From His View—What Black Men Have to Say About Intimacy”
ENSPIRE Contributor: Janelle Harris
Jeremy J. Johnson, affectionately known by his many fans from around the world as J’Da Prynce, wears many hats. One moment he provides a five-star dining experience at Louisiana Bistreaux, where he is a server. Then he brought an animated crowd to their feet as he renders a high energy performance in true no holds barred fashion. Johnson recently resigned as a middle school English teacher for Atlanta Public Schools. He is on a mission to let his voice and message ring loudly, clearly, and unfiltered, quite the opposite of what he feels he was able to do as a teacher at a Title I school. With a new book titled, “Intimacy From His View—What Black Men Have to Say About Intimacy,” and a burgeoning boutique talent agency, the young entrepreneur had his sights of becoming an example of what can happen when stepping on faith and following dreams. A server by day and a life coach by evening, Johnson is anything but passionless. ENSPIRE had the opportunity to interview Johnson to learn more about the fierce leader becoming a household name.
Johnson is a multitude of things to a variety of different people. He is the son of Earline S. Mitchum and Zander Johnson, Sr. Johnson’s siblings are Zandrena, Zander Jr., Zaphenia, Zonya, and Zaron, otherwise known as the Z-clan. He is a friend, an educator, a singer and songwriter, a storyteller, a recording and performance artist, an author, entrepreneur, and the visionary behind Applaud You Talent Group, LLC.
What is Applaud You Talent Group, LLC?
Applaud You Talent Group, LLC (AYTG) is a boutique talent agency, of which I am the founder, committed to honing and nurturing the very best artistic talent. Our services include artist and project development, life and artist coaching, talent marketing and promotions, artist branding, and style consulting.
What is important to you?
Most important to me is that I live a life with no regrets. I believe it is very important to make the most of each moment given to me. Leaving a legacy that my family can be proud of is also important to me. I would say at the very top of my list of priorities is that I live, laugh, and love and inspire others to do so each and every single day. If I do these things, I am able to rest my head on my pillow nightly with a sense of peace, gratitude, and contentment.
Tell us about your new book and what inspired you to write it?
My new book is titled “Intimacy From His View—What Black Men Have to Say About Intimacy.” I must say that I feel it is one of my greatest accomplishments to date. This book is the representative voice of diverse black men who openly, boldly and I believe unreservedly speak about the topic of intimacy, a subject that I feel for too long has been off-limits to black men. It is my personal conviction that this book was completely divinely inspired, just like the Bible, only there are no words written in red. Hallejuyer.
How did you come up with that title, “Intimacy From His View?“
Honestly, I didn’t. And, while it is not my intention to sound all ethereal and spooky, I simply cannot take the credit for what truly is Divine inspiration. I recall being in my apartment, which at the time was in Lindbergh Station, in Atlanta, Ga., and hearing a voice speak very plainly to me. In a nutshell, the voice said that I was to write a book, by the given title, and that I would be given the instructions to follow, as well as all of the tools necessary to complete the task. Well, a little less than a year later, lots of coaching (Thank you, Wanda D. Hollis, Leslie Cunningham, and Audrey and Brian Behaire-McGee) some great interviews with an array of dedicated, beautiful, intelligent black men, calls to my dad for reassurance, persistence, and determination, here we are.
So, what do black men have to say about intimacy?
Black men have a lot to say about intimacy. And while I’m not about to give it all away, let it suffice to say that, no two black men view intimacy the exact same way. Black men greatly desire intimacy, believe it or not. While we are often portrayed in various news and entertainment outlets as callous, insensitive thugs, black men are so much more than this. Black men want to love and be loved. Black men have a desire to learn how to be intimate as many of us were not afforded this opportunity as children. That’s all I will give for free. But, I strongly encourage everyone to get their hands on a copy of the book to learn more about what black men have to say.
What sense of purpose have you drawn from your culture and community?
I think this is a very interesting question. I would have to say that from my culture and community, I have come to know that I have a GREAT responsibility to my community. I have a responsibility to my brothers and sisters. While much of my younger years were spent “doing me,” and don’t get me wrong, I still do me to some extent, I understand the importance of being an educator, a leader, and an advocate for those with little to no voice. I believe too often we look up in the sky for a savior. We look to the government and various other entities to save us. My cultural upbringing has reaffirmed within me that my purpose is to do my part in creating the next generation of bold, independent thinkers whose mission is to pick up the mantle and continue the fight for true justice and equality; just as so many leaders before me dedicated their lives to doing so.
You mention justice and equality. Do you believe economic empowerment is also necessary?
Absolutely! I recently read that blacks account for 90 percent of the overall spending in the beauty supply industry. I mean, I know we like to look sexy, but damn. But, my issue isn’t really how much we spend. My issue has more to do with, with whom do we spend this exorbitant amount of money, and what return do we see on our investments as a whole? Basically, we need to do more to economically empower ourselves. We cannot wait to be taught this in school. We cannot expect the government to say, “We’re gonna start helping blacks help themselves.” We have to economically empower ourselves, and you best believe we have the means to do so. We have a lot of unlearning and relearning to do, as we have been purposefully and deliberately put at a disadvantage dating as far back as slavery. However, I am a firm believer we must look to the past to learn the lessons we need to provide a better future for ourselves. What we cannot afford to do, is keep waiting on an invisible savior to make it better. We ourselves have to take responsibility for improving our economic situation. We have the power.
How has the pandemic impacted your career?
Well, to be honest, I am very grateful for this pandemic. As I shared earlier, I believe in making every moment count. This pandemic has simply provided me with the space and opportunity to go inside of myself and tap into gifts and talents that I was otherwise too busy, too distracted, or just too unconcerned to nurture. I have been blessed to read more, write more, create more, plan more, and inspire a few people to live, laugh, and love. How’s that for impact?
Where can we find your new book?
You can find paperback copies of my book as well as digital copies by going to my website, JeremyJJohnson.com, as well as on Amazon starting Sept. 29th, 2020.
Leave us with some encouraging words.
Encouraging words. Hmmm. I’d like to start out by borrowing words from the Motivational Queen, Wanda D. Hollis, herself, and simply remind everyone that “You Are Enough.” Despite what others may think of you, say to you, or say about you, you are enough. There is beauty inside each of us. Never forget that we are fearfully and wonderfully made and that the Divine has a purpose for each of our lives. Your journey is yours and yours alone and it is not mandatory nor advisable that you compare your journey with another’s journey. Beyoncé said it best, the best revenge is your paper, and always, always remember to “Live, Laugh and Love” because all we got is right now, so let’s live out loud, and don’t forget to enjoy intimacy with yourself and others.