The Professor of Pop Culture: Roi Boyd

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( ENSPIRE Man Code 101 ) From a Young Boy with a Big Dream to a Powerhouse in the Entertainment Industry

ENSPIRE Contributor: Janelle Harris

As a professor, artist, actor, musician, filmmaker, entrepreneur, and fashion model, Roi Boyd wears many hats, but his favorite to wear is that of mentor and advisor. Roi knew he wanted to become an artist at the age of five and happily let his career unfold as it emerged into an exquisite tapestry marked by his passion for the performing arts. Now an accomplished artist, Roi hasn’t forgotten his humble beginnings nor the little boy with the big dream. 

That’s why he takes great pride in his role as the “Professor of Pop Culture” and the opportunity he has to mentor and teach his students the power of pursuing their dreams. Let’s take a closer look at Roi’s career and how he’s positively impacting lives in this ENSPIRE exclusive with the Professor of Pop Culture himself.

What is the art of fashion? 

A: To me, the art of fashion is the expression of two entities—the designer and the individual wearing the clothes. With a designer, their work is no different from a visual artist. What is just as important is the subject wearing the work. I often tell people who lament over the finances of designer clothes that it is not what you wear but how you wear it. An individual can bring attitude and creativity in how they put different parts of an outfit together—accessories, jewelry, etc. The individual can be creative in creating his or her aesthetic in collaboration with the designer whether it is Gucci or George (Walmart). 

What are Cultural Libations? 

A: Cultural Libations is a multidisciplinary arts and humanities company that I formed with my life partner, Yemaa Jubilee, seven years ago. Our mission is to support and provide a creative venue to express the human condition in our original work through the literary, visual, media, and performing arts. We also work with emerging artists in developing and showcasing their talents. 

What advice can you give to first-time entrepreneurs who are venturing into business amid this pandemic? 

A: Do not lose sight of your vision. Keep your eyes on the prize. The thing about starting a business is that there will be plenty of challenges, and the pandemic may be only the first. This is a time for all of us to understand that, considering the circumstances around us, we may have to invent our jobs. Be open, be creative, use technology to the fullest, and find alternative ways to reach people because of how we have adapted in this new virtual world that is here to stay. Prepare and adapt to serve the public both in the personal and virtual realms. Stay positive because, despite everything, this is a great time to start. 

What is the truth of your authenticity? 

A: I love the William Shakespeare’s quote, “To thine own self be true.” You know who you are; stay to that truth. People are always trying to change you and make you into who they want, but you must maintain your identity and your integrity—stay true to your values and learn to love yourself. If you struggle with loving yourself, do not be afraid to dive deeper and learn who you are at your core. We are all works in progress. 

What are your thoughts about what’s going on in the world right now? 

A: I believe that we are in an era of great change. For those of us who are products of the last generation, we are witnessing the true beginning of the 21st century. My truth in the first 20 years was to shed the skin of the last century. For me, 2020 is a year of clarity. I see a period of bumps and bruises—the pandemic and racial reckoning—before we see the outcome. I believe we are on our way to becoming a stronger, wiser, and transformed nation, but we must endure the bumps and bruises before we reach that destination. 

What advice would you share with someone who wants to mirror your success? 

A: With anything, the first thing I always emphasize is that you must love it! If you aren’t earning a lot of money in the beginning, you may have to invest in yourself for the love of it. Why? Because the money will come. I also believe that you must ask yourself, “Is this bigger than me and will it make a difference in the lives of others in the long run?” Don’t be afraid to diversify yourself. I love the arts and I attempt to make a mark in all of them. Learn all you can, study the masters and, let me repeat, study, study, study. I think one of the greatest ways to learn is by watching others work. You can always learn something by watching someone else and then when you apply it to yourself, you’ll see why it worked for them or why it might not work for you. It’s all about observing and attempting. Love it and go for it! 

What sense of purpose have you drawn from your community? 

A: Embarking wisdom to young black men is the purpose I’ve drawn from my community. I am the campus advisor for the Gamma chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. at Virginia Union University. Through this role, I give young men an example of what it means to be a black man. I also support the fraternity brothers and all other young men who are eager to receive the lessons and wisdom that I have to offer. 

What’s your experience working with students? 

A: It is tied to the sense of purpose we discussed earlier. I am a professor, but I am also a mentor and supporter. My students feed me energy and excitement. I believe that I learn from them just as much as they learn from me. Working with my students, for me, is a lesson in social dynamics. With the students, I’ve done a lot of community service with fraternity members and others. I’ve taken the students to visit senior citizen centers where we’ve talked with residents and gained from their wisdom and experience. I’ve worked with my fraternity in feeding the homeless and contributing to the shelter during the winter. Yemaja and I have given the brothers opportunities to serve as male concierges during Yemaja’s women’s conferences. For those wanting a boost in their career, we also cast them in our productions and give them other jobs with artists in our network. I’m always there to provide a helping hand, lend an ear to listen, or offer advice. 

How do you define pop culture? 

A: The human condition expressed in post-war visual art, literature, music, film, theatre, fashion—anything of expression through the transmission and dissemination of the electronic media of television, radio, advertising, film, etc. Its audience? Mass culture, not necessarily a younger audience. 

Leave us with some encouraging words. 

A: Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

Roi Boyd’s childhood dreams have come true in every aspect of his career, from his work as an artist, actor, musician, filmmaker, and fashion model, to his reputation as the Professor of Pop Culture. Fortunately, Roi is happy to share his good fortune and his many blessings with his students, community, and the world as he inspires and empowers everyone to pursue their dreams even when the odds are against them. To learn more about Roi’s work or to reach out to Roi for inspiration and guidance, you can reach him via email at l.roiboyd@gmail.com or follow him on Facebook @professorpopculture and @boydleroi.

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