Terrell Owens may have just celebrated his 41st birthday last month, but the NFL star has every intention of making 2015 his best year yet. His self-described “polarizing” football career may have led to a lot of intense media over the years, but it was Owens’ self-produced The T.O. Show that gave him a chance to let us see his softer side when it debuted in 2009.
Beginning January 4th, Terrell will be competing on the new season of Donald Trump’s The Celebrity Apprentice, and it’s almost certain the appearance will shine new light onto his many business ventures amid the storm of celeb drama.
While reality TV has been a solid springboard for Owens, he has been focused on developing his acting career. Thus far he has appeared on shows like Go On, Single Ladies, and Necessary Roughness. He also appeared in the films Dysfunctional Friends and About Last Night, and has a role in the upcoming Daniel Baldwin movie Bound.
Additionally, T.O. recently took on a modeling contract with Next Modeling Agency, and entered into an agency partnership with Relativity Sports to bring new talent to the table. As his life seems to get busier each day, Owens still finds time for health endeavors, as he also represents The Rack fitness machine.
Over the years, Terrell has co-authored four books including a children’s book, and has ideas to create more motivational opportunities for youth with his What TO Do Global Campaign.
UrbLife.com found some time during the holiday season to talk with Terrell Owens about The Celebrity Apprentice, some of his upcoming projects, and perception versus reality of his sometimes controversial career.
You’ve been making the move into acting and modeling, and you look fantastic. How are you keeping up your exercise and diet through all of your traveling and new business ventures?
Terrell Owens: I’ve been able to educate myself and become very knowledgeable about health throughout the years through my personal trainer Buddy Primm who lives in Atlanta. Also throughout my years of playing Football and how nutrition is important in staying young and feeling better about yourself. I don’t train as heavy as I used to when I was playing, but I try to maintain a little level of exercise.
What makes you want to get into acting?
TO: Well, I always try to challenge myself. Earlier in my years in playing for the San Francisco 49ers, there were people who noticed my energy and how natural I was. I became a little more comfortable in front of the camera. Coming from small Chattanooga and going literally into the big leagues, it was somewhat of an adjustment. I’m the kind of person who adjusts on the fly, so I just took things as they came.
Being in front of the media, doing press, and a lot of interviews helped me be comfortable. I did a couple of personal features within and outside of the organization and people said, “Man you should consider doing some TV or something like that”. With the way that I celebrated, people felt that I was very charismatic in terms of my personality, so kinda factor all of that and figured that maybe I can do some acting if people are seeing things in myself that I didn’t see. I’m leaving myself open for the right opportunities.
As of late I’ve done My Dad’s a Soccer Mom on UP TV, I did Go On last year with Matthew Perry, and Necessary Roughness that was on USA, and a lot of independent stuff such as Dysfunctional Friends on Netflix. I’ve done a lot of commercials, small cameos, even the movie About Last Night.
With acting, as they say in Hollywood “there are a million people auditioning every day for that one role”, but obviously it takes a lot of hard work just as anything else. I try to keep myself open, and find a theatrical agent to do more acting. It’s all about who you know and finding that right role for myself, and I’m willing to do it.
How do you feel reality television differs from having a scripted role? And what are the dynamics of being your own star on your own show versus being among a lot of other celebrities on a reality show?
TO: Well scripted is something where a lot of people have taken classes, you have to prepare yourself and develop a character. I’ve done maybe a couple of things that were scripted. In terms of reality shows, depending on who you ask, it’s scripted and non-scripted. I think everyone knows where reality TV is now.
In terms of being with a cast such as Celebrity Apprentice along with a number of people, it’s like being on a team for the first time where you don’t really know everybody’s temperament or personality, unless you follow them. You’ve got to find out where you fit in, and you’ve just got to be yourself. I’ve done that no matter what the situation is, despite the environment and people I’m surrounded by.
Today Donald Trump was on The Wendy Williams Show talking about a huge catfight between two of the women [Vivica Fox and Kenya Moore]. How do you stay calm and focused when there is that kind of drama around you?
TO: When you get a lot of egos and strong personalities like that in one realm, what Donald described is inevitable. Those things are going to take place. But for myself, I’ve grown throughout the years. There has been a lot of progress to where I am now. You’ve got to live and learn from the mistakes that you’ve made, you often try to be a better person.
In that situation with the catfight, women are gonna be women. In a more positive way with maintaining my composure and being mature about the situation, I have to say it was quite entertaining. You can’t really take either one of them too serious. I think a lot of them know that what they were doing is probably going to create a lot of ratings for the show and stuff like that. It was real and intense though.
What would you saw are the most important ventures we need to look out from you next?
TO: I’m really just take advantage of the brand that I’ve established for myself. A lot of people know me through football, and they will know about who I am and what I’m about through my reality show and Celebrity Apprentice. I think people will see me in a different light, considering there so much said about who I am based upon media portrayal in the past 15 years or so.
A lot of people don’t know me on a personal level. They say that perception is reality, but in my case you have to diffuse some of those things, because I think my personality from what people know of me is not good. I think a lot of people think of me in a negative light because of media reports about my so called “locker room behavior”.
I’m just trying to branch off and do some things to really give back to the community and to the kids. I really feel that there are a lot of kids who are probably at the crossroads of trying to figure out what they want to do in terms of their career. Early on a lot of kids have dreams, a lot of them have ambitions that are lofty and there’s nothing wrong with that.
I think for someone like myself [who started with]not necessarily the dream of playing football, I took advantage of an opportunity. If I could give back in terms of knowledge and what it’s taken for me to get where I am, if I can give that to a kid with a dream on top of an opportunity that may be given, the sky is the limit.
My “What TO Do” campaign is me trying to give kids a blueprint of what it takes to get to that next level depending on the age group and level of that kid. If you’re fortunate enough to be given the information or opportunity, and have a God-given gift and talent on top of your dreams of becoming a professional football player, you can obviously make it for the ones fortunate enough to make it to the pros. You put yourself in a great situation, moreso than not if you didn’t have someone like me giving that kid the motivation and inspiration to reach for their dreams.
What are your goals for the NFL going forward?
TO: In terms of my NFL career, I think it kind of speaks for itself. I don’t see myself going into any type of coaching or anything like that. I think what I’m trying to do off the field with myself as far as branding is really trying to create a platform where kids that are research happy and knowledgeable about what I’ve done.
I wasn’t a Top Ten draft pick in the first round. I was a kid who was raw and green, looked at like a kid who had potential. Every kid has potential, but that doesn’t mean that they are going to make it. I think with potential, genetics from their parents, and all the right attributes and measurables in terms of height and stuff like that looks good on paper, but it comes from within.
In terms of the NFL, I don’t have anything brewing there, but have made myself available in case for some off reason a team needed a receiver. I’ve just been keeping myself in shape just case. At the end of the day, if it happens it happens, if it doesn’t it’s not the end of the world.
I think what I’ve done with my years of playing in the NFL, I’ve been able to create a brand for myself and not tarnish my brand for that matter. My integrity along with what I’ve done on the field is something no one can ever take from me. I think that speaks louder than anything.
I’m venturing out trying to do other business endeavors and stuff in the fitness space. I have an infomercial running soon for this equipment piece called The Rack. That, including The Celebrity Apprentice will be on the way. I just shot a Superbowl commercial that will be running in the fourth quarter of the Superbowl, so look out for that. Myself, Franko Harris, Bret Favre, and Emmitt Smith are in that commercial along with one more person, and it will be funny.
I just try to use my creative mind and I think what a lot of people don’t know about me outside of football will unfold in the next few years and they will see more to me. I may start up a clothing line. I met with some people and they are very interested in my design eye, and I think I get a lot of that from my mom. I think it’s in my DNA. When I say that I mean I’m a guy that likes fashion, I like home décor, there’s some things I’m trying to do in that space as well.
I know it may seem odd, but if I wasn’t playing football, there’s no telling where my career path would have taken me. Those are some of the things that I’ve had a great interest in throughout my years; and it’s just like doing a personality piece on someone and you would never really know what they are interested in unless you saw it. For the most part, I think my football career has been polarizing, and really stood out more than my hobbies and interests. Don’t be surprised to see something T.O. inspired, or my name attached to it.
What would you like people to know about you at this stage of your life?
TO: Number one, I’m not the person that they perceive me to be in regards to media portrayal. It’s refreshing to run into people now and they actually spend more than five to ten minutes with me versus reading a publication or hearing some media about how bad of a person I am. Once they are around me they find out how down to earth and how human I am.
I know on the football field I gave that impression that I was almost like a super-hero type of athlete, so to speak. I think for anyone that has idols and athletes that they look up to, we all think they are invincible and don’t do any wrong. I think being around someone and spending that personal time, you get a feel of what that person is all about.
I’m human, and sometimes I have to sit back and reflect on some of the good things in my career, because I didn’t realize what I was doing as I was playing. I became a household name, it seems like overnight, but it really as was couple of years. I went from Terrell Owens from Alexander City, Alabama to T.O.
All that, created by the grace of God, the ability to stay healthy and play for the National Football League, it didn’t happen easy – it was a lot of hard work put into that. There were a lot of people that helped me along the way, even in the last year or so – especially in the last six to eight months. You think about Alvina [Alston], who has been very instrumental in some of the growth and things I’ve done off the field. I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of great people and establish relationships because of her. When you surround yourself with the right people and it seems like the universe has aligned to put things together, a lot of great things happen.
Find out more about Terrell Owens’ work and new projects at TerrellOwens.com