I'm a big guy: I look like a linebacker, you know? But no one cares, really, that I'm educated. I have a copy of 'Fire Next Time' by James Baldwin in my bag. I have an Ibsen play in there, too. I have to walk through this world with that duality all the time, that I live in two different worlds.
You can't share your magic with everyone. Your job is to live within your magic. And if other magical people find you, then let's go and make a brew.
In my household growing up in Fayetteville, N.C., music was the great communicator between my parents and me.
Hip-hop is not about pretense. You can be missing an eye; you can have an ice-cream cone in your face; you can run around with Bantu knots; you can decide to wear gold, all everything. It's not about how you look - it's about what you say. It's about what message you're getting across.
My father was retired military, and my mother was an educator. She was incredibly creative. I used to love going to her school during the summer and helping her decorate her classroom. I would draw Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck. She was a sixth grade teacher. She and my father are the ones that got me into my love of music.
Acting, for me, was kind of a way of survival, honestly. I'm the baby boy out of four different sisters, and I grew up in a house with so many different personalities that acting was the only way to not go to therapy.
Perceptions really do define what our realities are. What we're hoping to do with 'Atlanta' is to really shatter that. To shatter it completely wide open. To go from the furthest lane of absurdity to the furthest lane of reality and make them blend.
This is the city that kind of formulated who I am. And, not only that, but to be black in Atlanta is one of the greatest things because you can go anywhere and feel familiar with anyone who's right next to you, from Bankhead to Buckhead.
Atlanta's the hub of black culture, and it's OK to be you there - it's the city that really shaped me to be who I am.
'Atlanta' is really trying to put that out there: these are just the lives of these people in this city, and this city is its own breathing, living thing, too. So how do you navigate through life, especially with dreams and aspirations in a world that tells you that you don't deserve to have them.
My school had the dopest arts program - the dopest show choir, the dopest marching band. I couldn't sing or play an instrument a lick, but I was just going to fake it till I make it.
I was working with the likes of Steve McQueen, Matthew McConaughey, Viola Davis, just running the gamut.
People like to use the word 'naivete' as a negative, but not for me.
Aja Naomi is one of my good friends.
I've discovered people in my lifetime who are like, 'I always wanted to sing but... ' It's like, 'Well then, did you try?' My thing was always not caring about failure.
When I was three years old, one of the first albums I ever heard was Michael Jackson's 'Off the Wall.'
I usually get approached by older white ladies of a certain class, with their pearls and, you know, their Talbots on and everything, and they're like, 'We just have to say, we know we're not your demographic, but we love Paper Boi; we really love this show, and we love what you're doing.' It's totally cool.
TV can be a thread between all of us, and it can be a powerful tool to examine life and love and what we all have in common as humans.
The great thing about James Baldwin and his writing is that it's still fresh every time you pick it up. That's also the sad thing about his writing sometimes, too.
My mother had a gorgeous singing voice, and she'd play these amazing vinyls. My favorite was 'But Not for Me,' on the 1954 album 'Chet Baker Sings.'