EFOC 2024: The HBCU To Hollywood Discussion Highlighter The Power Of Connection – Essence


NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – JULY 06: (L-R) Terrence J, Lance Gross, Luke Lawal and Jahliel Thurman attend the 2024 ESSENCE Festival Of Culture™ Presented By Coca-Cola® at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 06, 2024 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Robin L Marshall/Getty Images for ESSENCE)

In recent years, Historically Black Colleges and Universities have had a bit of a resurgence in popular culture, with many notable figures being graduates of an HBCU. On the second day of the Suede Men’s Experience at the ESSENCE Festival of Culture, Lance Gross, Terrence J, and Luke Lawal sat down with Jahliel Thurman to discuss in-depth the impact of their college journeys, and its effect thereafter.

As critical drivers of economic empowerment, community connections and social development, HBCUs continue to mold its students into the world’s future leaders. During this conversation, the panelists spoke about how they were able to build successful careers in Hollywood through their school connections and relationships.

EFOC 2024: The HBCU To Hollywood Discussion Highlighter The Power Of Connection
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – JULY 06: (L-R) Jahliel Thurman, Luke Lawal, Lance Gross and Terrence J attend the 2024 ESSENCE Festival Of Culture™ Presented By Coca-Cola® at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 06, 2024 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE)

Each of the men on the panel were fraternity men–Gross, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and the other three being members of Omega Psi Phi–and all of them stressed how important brotherhood has been in their lives.“Every time I walk into a room, there’s always an Omega Man that’s watching over my back,” Terrence J said. “I know we talk, and we joke and it’s all fun and games, but when it really comes down to it, it’s all about that support.”

Also, the three also touched on how the HBCU connection was able to help them achieve success in their careers through networking with fellow alumni in high positions. Lawal also iterated the power of persistence in whatever field that you occupy. “Being at an HBCU, it taught me that there is no ‘no,’ it’s just a consistent hill until you get to your ‘yes,’” the creator of HBCU Buzz said. “When I hear someone tell me no, I always think ‘he didn’t really mean no, there’s just someone else I can talk to–there’s always a way.”

He concluded with, “our students are so diverse and so talented, you just have to get past the no’s and remind ourselves that there’s a ‘yes’ at the end of the road.”



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