between the Civil Rights Movement and the apartheid in the ‘60s.
EBONY: Does that mean that we’re not to put you in a box? Will we be seeing you doing other stories that aren’t necessarily faith films in the future as well?
TDJ: Absolutely. I don’t hesitate to answer that because I’m not one-dimensional. I’m not at all a one-dimensional person. I listen to different types of music, I read different types of books, and I think one of the great mistakes that we make with people is to categorize them by how we met them rather than allowing them the elasticity to be as diverse as all human beings are. Just because we are people of faith doesn’t mean that we are no less people, not interested in culture, politics, art, music. I’m interested in everything, and what I have come to learn is that though I may be out of the box for a traditional clergymen, the constant line that exists in everything I do is communication. Whether it is books, movies, preaching, speaking, motivation, it’s just communicating with my generation and I enjoy doing that in every mode that is available in this era, whether it is Facebook, Twitter, I’m a communicator and I love to communicate with people. I love people and I love to communicate and learn from them and talk to them.
EBONY: You mentioned a really important word earlier in our conversation: “marketing.“ Every four years the Black church becomes an important place for politicians to pay attention to, and market to, if you will. Do you sense that that will be even more so this go-round?
TDJ: It’s very unpredictable and it’s anybody’s guess who is going to be our next president. What I have really tried to do, though, is encourage our parishioners to get out and vote and let their voice be heard. I think it’s very, very important that every American and particularly African Americans, exercise their right to get out and vote and to express in their vote how they see the candidates lining up against the calamities that exist in our society and who they think is best to lead us for the next four years.
EBONY: Part of your success in Hollywood is that you embrace this grass-roots strategy. Do you do the same with regards to politics in your community?
TDJ: We’ve done several things right at our church in terms of get out the vote and we’ve historically done several things like that and we’re looking at doing it again to really encourage people to get out and vote and reminding them from the pulpit how important it is so their voices continue to be heard. And we have a lot of ways when we do things like that, to market that. Whether it’s Facebook, twitter or an e-blast … as well as just announcing over the pulpit when we are going to do a get out the vote initiative. I know that the NAACP is currently heading one. But we have done them in the past and I’ve found them to be very effective at getting people out to vote. My big fear for this coming election is that I’m concerned that there might be some apathy in some sections of our community about getting out to vote because at times so many people are preoccupied with their own problems, or are disillusioned by the process we go through. I think it’s very, very important that we overcome that disillusion and get out and let our voice be heard and understand that our voice does count.
EBONY: Those of us who aren’t clergymen, we have a reaction when all of a sudden our churches get flooded with political speakers. But that has to say to you guys that the Black church still has some importance in the political process, right?
TDJ: I think that it does, and evidently the politicians do too, because they often frequent the churches and invite the various pastors to various events, including the White House. I think that the church is still relevant, but one of the things that we have to…when we have these conversations about the political relevance of the church, we have to realize that comparing the church in the ‘60s to the church in the 21st century is like comparing a cell phone to a party line that we had in the ‘60s. It’s a different day and it’s a different day because we have strong institutions, strong Black political figures in Congress in a way that we did not have before. We have various entities through which to communicate with the Black audience beyond the church, including the development of the media that we did not have at that time. I think that the church continues to stand by the community