Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Krushing on Russell Simmons

One of the perks of working for the largest newspaper in the Carolinas is that you get to interview a lot of famous people. Meeting Russell Simmons last week during his Argyleculture menswear line launch at Belk at SouthPark mall was one of my favorite celebrity encounters. 

I interviewed him several days before his Charlotte appearance via phone while he was in his Seventh Avenue headquarters in New York City. He is incredibly smart, funny and authentic. But actually sitting next to him and talking behind-the-scenes at Belk was thrilling for me.

I find him to be one of the most fascinating people of my generation because he's such a creative, visionary thinker. That's something I admire more than his bank account or his status as a living legend in the hip-hop community. 

Going back to his Krush Groove days (what a fun movie), he's always been one step ahead of what the future was going to look like. 

Before I met him in person, I had hoped to work in two personal things that I thought he needed to know. With his interest in multiculturalism, I wanted to give him my brief "Redheads are the ultimate minority" speech. (We're all descended from Vikings, so watch out. We may only make up one percent of the world's population, but we raise half the hell). And I wanted to give him my two-minute pitch for the sequel to Krush Groove. It's brilliant, I swear. It has a message behind it that young people especially need to hear. Russell, please have your people call my people! 

I never got around to that because time was limited and it would have been unprofessional and unkind of me to start talking about myself while a line of fellow journalists were waiting for their time with him. That's what blogs are for. 

Plus, another Krush interrupted us. Russell is so nice and accommodating that he moved his chair all the way over to mine so we could have our picture taken together. While he was doing that, we heard a very loud crushing sound. Russell had left his phone by his chair and we both thought it was history, but it turned out his chair legs missed the phone but hit the base of Argyleculture backdrop he was sitting in front of. "Everyone thinks I'm a yogi but I would not have been calm if that was my phone," he said, referring to his devotion to mediation and yoga.

I'm trying to train myself to shoot videos from events I attend, so here's what I have from Russell's appearance:

I also shot pictures and Tweeted live from the event, which is my new obsession. Here are some of my favorite photos that capture the mood of his live appearance. 

I love this fan's style - who knew red plaid, a camo print and neon Nike's could look so great together.

Louis Langston of @amped4acure wears a bow tie with everything as part of his signature style. 

Teacher and model Andrea Jackson, whom I mistakenly called a mom as well in one of my Tweets (she was telling me that she's a mom to her students, not that she was a mother now). She was very gracious about my error. "I do want to be a mom one day," she said sweetly. 

Larry Cornwell looking sharp. We have exchanged emails and phone messages over the years about events he's involved in, but I had never met him in person. Terrific guy, and he and Andrea are part of the Flight 1118 Fashion Show. It's from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Nov. 18 at Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge; proceeds benefit Crisis Assistance Ministry and Metrolina Food Bank. Here's a link to the Facebook page:

Love the look of this super cool duo. Yes, he's wearing a vintage Members Only jacket. 

Russell Simmons was so attentive to this young fan, but he cracked everyone up when he checked the label on the boy's argyle sweater. That's why admire Russell so much - he's always thinking. 

Russell with the future screenwriter of his Krush Groove sequel that's destined to be a megahit.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson