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TRANSCEND

TRANSCEND: KURT JONES

Kurt Jones, Director, Executive Producer and award-winning filmmaker, sits down with Gracie to talk about his newest LGBTQIA+ late night talk show, The House.

the following is a transcript of Gracie’s conversation with Kurt Jones

GRACIE

From director to award-winning filmmaker, next. Welcome back to “Transcend”. My guest today has been working professionally in the film industry for over 20 years as a director, editor, and Emmy-award-winning producer. He has also won best short film at Festival des Cons, ooh la la, working on shows like “Dr. Oz”, “Live with Kelly and Michael”, “America’s Next Top Model”, and “Biggest loser”, just to name a few. While lending his talents to major networks, please welcome to “Transcend”, it is Kurt T. Jones, also known as Kujo Film.

KURT

Thank you, Gracie. Thank you for having me. How you doing, baby?

GRACIE

I’m blessed and highly favored, cannot complain.

KURT

Yes, you are!

GRACIE

Thank you for being here. You know, me and Kurt, we got connected during pandemic. It was a crazy time going on, and you know, through a mutual friend, Kurt had reached out about an opportunity that he had, and I was very intrigued, and I was very honored and blessed that he thought of moi, so let’s just get right into it. Your latest project is the new black LGBTQIA+ late night talk show, “The House”, debuting on Fox Soul this month, which you’re not only directing, but also serving as the executive producer. Well, excuse-moi, what can you share with us about this highly-anticipated show?

KURT

Well, thank you. That’s a awesome intro. I greatly appreciate it. This is a show that wasn’t necessarily something I planned on doing. It kind of came about because two of the other hosts that you met, Cheryl and Aaron, were working on this prior to, and we just kind of softly had been speaking, like, you know, here’s an idea, kind of kicking around, and Aaron came up with this idea, and I connected to Aaron through Cheryl, and, in that process, it was kinda like, well, you know, we could do a show, but what’s gonna make it, not only unique, but actually have that meaning, that heart, that soul, the actual, like, you know, that’s gonna make it what “The House” is? It’s gonna have something to say. I feel like, a lot of times, we get the opportunities to be on TV or to speak or have that platform or have that audience, and we forget that, when you get there, we fight so hard to get there, but we forgot to have something to say once you get there, and this is that place for us to actually be able to not have to do what’s necessary to appeal to a mass audience, but rather to have real talk and have something to say, to have us as people of color, us in the LGBTQIA+ rainbow family, you know, be able to say this is what really goes on and you community, and you viewers, and you allies, and you mom, and you dad, this is what we’re going through. This is what means to be black and gay in America in 2021, 2022, 2023. This is what it means to have this struggle, and not everybody struggles the same. We are similar, but we’re not the same ’cause I don’t get everything that it is to be a trans woman right now, in 2021. But as my sister, I know exactly where I need to be as far as supporting you. You, on the other hand, have gone through what I’ve gone through, before your transition, and understand what it means to be, you know, a gay man, but now you also have a greater perspective than I do of that you see the world even larger than me, and when you get this platform, just like you’re doing right now with “Transcend”, it’s not only you having something to say, but you making a platform for other people to actually speak and be heard. So for me, “The House” is this place where everybody gets a seat at the table, everybody gets something to feed their belly, feed their mind, but also a voice, whether you’re gay, whether you’re straight, whether you’re transgender, bi, going through the transition, starting to think about it, you know, still in the closet, DL, full on, you know, drag queen, whatever. Wherever you fall in our merry little family, you have a place at the table at “The House”, and when you come to “The House”, you’re family.

GRACIE

A rainbow of perspectives, I love that. Who would you like to see come on as a guest?

KURT

You know, there’s the big, I would love to get like, Janet Mock and Laverne Cox and Billy Porter. Those are great for like, the celebrity recognition, you know? But, to be perfectly honest, I really enjoy having the names that are smaller, to having folks that you don’t really hear about, the community leaders, the representatives, the people that are actually doing the work in the streets that, you know, who’s the person here in LA, Jewel owns, there’s a club called The Catch One, and it’s an institution. It’s been here for years, and years, and years, and it’s an old black club, and it’s kind of shrinking because we always want the new. I would just like to be able to get people to understand that our history with someone like Jewel who made a place, a safe space for us and a safe place to be when no one else was allowing us to be anywhere, those are the kinds of people that we need to know, lift them up, and let them know in the community, that, Hey, you’re here. You have something of value that you’re giving, not just to the gays, not just to the blacks, but to the community as a whole, and so much of it is to let people know what that struggle is, what it still remains, and what we can do to fight it, to make it better for the next generation.

GRACIE

Honey, I twirl many nights up in Catch 21, the legendary Catch 21 with my Rhonda family, so I see you. And I also love that you said that it’s not just about celebrity, but it’s also about just like, other people, because, I do, I feel like, sometimes, we’re miss-unrepresented in terms of not everyone has a desire and the goals to want to be in the industry as a celebrity, and I think that it’s more relatable when we can speak to an audience that understands the everyday struggle, so I love that you said that. How far would you say that we have come when it comes to hearing stories from all walks of life?

KURT

I think we’ve made tremendous strides. Being able to see where we are today, Honestly, it’s impressive, it’s dynamic. I look at when I was a kid, and if I really think hard about what was the gay representation, there wasn’t any, and you know, you and I are early nineties babies , with a couple xs,

GRACIE

Honey, ain’t no shame in my game, honey. Ain’t no shame in my game. I’m a seventies baby. Proud to say it. Carry on. We might’ve been schoolmates sometime, but no, at that time, growing up, like I remember, the first thought that pops in my head right now is “Men on Film” that was on “In Living Color”, and I love “In Living Color” ’cause it was, wow, it’s a black comedy TV show, but when I’m still dealing with this little piece of myself that I hadn’t really figured out, that I didn’t even know was there, but I knew something was going on and I didn’t even know how to address inside myself, the only perspective I had and the only voice I had and only visual I had with “Men on Film”, and I don’t knock them, but from that point of us, we, as gays, always being the butt of the joke, us always being what’s comical, it’s “Oh, look! Here’s another funny man in drag. Oh, here’s another funny man in a dress. Oh, you know,” I remember being at a time where I was like, you know, two snaps, a twist, and a kiss. Yes, honey! And everybody laughed. And this part of it, yes, it is part of our culture, and it is hilarious because we are funny. We have to laugh to keep from crying, but at no point did we see ourselves represented as deep, three-dimensional real people that have real-world struggles. No one saw us as real humans, someone that actually has a heart, a soul, a love, a life, a goal, an ambition, a dream, and striving so hard to just make those dreams come true, no matter what that might be, there was no visual representation of that anywhere on TV, and, at that time it was network TV, was three stations. I think Fox, Well, four stations with Fox, and then cable was probably 50, so we weren’t there, and to go from that to now, we have “Pose”, we have “Legendary”, we have you with “Transcend”. I’m even proud to say we have “The House”, we’ve come a phenomenally long way, but we haven’t even started, we haven’t even begun. We just got our baby toe near the water of starting to be seen.

KURT

And, with that being said, and knowing that getting into the industry can be tough, what’s your best piece of advice to someone breaking into Hollywood?

KURT

I would say to someone young that’s getting in and wants to break into Hollywood, first and foremost, understand that Hollywood is not a place. It’s a feeling, it’s a vibe, it’s something that you have inside you that knows how to communicate and speak to other peoples and move them. Know that what you’re coming for, and I don’t mean coming here, physically, to Los Angeles or coming to this building or coming to a recording, but know what you’re coming to when I say out is to come out and say something. Figure that out first. As soon as you have that figured out, use any means to get your voice out. Your phone is a camera and a studio today. You can build an audience, and I’m trying to minimize it, but you can build an audience on YouTube, you can build an audience on Instagram, you can build an audience on TikTok, and that audience is more loyal to you than having a big show on a major network, because they are interested in you and your authentic voice and your authentic truth, and you’re not speaking what somebody else is telling you to say, you’re actually speaking from your heart, from your soul, from what means and resonates to you, to your audience directly. For those that want to go bigger, it’s just create. Create, create, create. Don’t stop creating. As soon as you think you tired, you have just started to do it. You gotta create. It takes a thousand hours to become proficient in anything. I can give you the same paint that I gave Michelangelo and you know I will paint the Sistine Chapel, but if you stick with it, and you keep painting, and you keep going, and you keep working at it, you will get there. You’re gonna build your tribe, build your tribe, surround yourself with people that believe in you, that hear your voice, that hear your message, that believe in what you have to say, surround yourself with people that aren’t just gonna say yes, people that are going to say no and tell you when you’re wrong, but help you grow. Be open to hearing those messages when they say that’s not right and this is what we should do, because we’ve gotta understand that all of our talents aren’t here for us. My talent, as blessed and gifted and talented as I am, took me a long time to realize my talents are not for me. my talents are to serve. I grow and I get better, I move faster, I get bigger, I get more progress and more prosperity every time I give them away, and I don’t mean give them way from a financial standpoint, but just give my talents, lend my talents to other people, to use their talents to be a bigger voice.

GRACIE

Thank you for your service. Thank you, Kurt, for your time in joining us today. Congratulations with the show, wishing you all the best, and I hope to see you again soon, back with “The House”. To watch this episode again or for more stories like these, check out our website at Pluslikemedia.com, and make sure to follow us at PlusLikeMedia. Until next time, welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream?

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