Bishop T. D. Jakes is on a mission. A mission to empower, inspire and uplift the Black community. And, mission accomplished. Appropriately named America’s Best Preacher by Time magazine, Bishop Jakes is a spiritual leader and media mogul spreading his positive messages of faith to the masses. From TV, music, magazines, New York Times-bestselling books and conferences, Jakes has become a beacon of light serving the African-American community through his faith-based messages.
And Jakes definitely keeps himself busy. He’ll finally bring his popular MegaFest to his homebase of Dallas, Texas, its first time in the United States since 2006. Never been? MegaFest (running August 29-31) is a family-centered empowerment festival that comprises Jakes’s most popular conferences: ManPower, Woman Thou Art Loosed, MegaYouth and MegaKidz. The festival is so “mega,” it’s has attracted the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Hudson and Kerry Washington.
Did we forget to mention his new show, Mind, Body, and Soul, debuting this fall on BET? Let’s hear him tell it. EBONY.com catches up with Bishop T.D. Jakes, discussing MegaFest, his BET series, and the plights facing the Black community.
EBONY: How does it feel to finally host MegaFest in your homebase?
T. D. Jakes: It’s incredibly exciting. It will be my first time having it in Dallas, on my own turf where my base is as it relates to my membership, in addition to my peripheral staff. To be able to draw people back into my base, back into my city where I have relationships with the mayor and the governor, gives us a sense of stability as we host a meeting of this magnitude.
EBONY: Why was it important for you to incorporate a Faith and Family Film Festival into MegaFest?
TDJ: We’ve been dibbling and dabbling in entertainment for quite some time now, and there’s not a lot of film festivals focused on faith and family based films. And yet when we get in the trenches, we see a lot of people that are interested. This festival creates an opportunity for scriptwriters, actors [and] artists to have an opportunity to meet people who do this on a daily basis. You’re going to have agents from William Morris, representatives from Sony, people who are currently making movies and on television, to be on panels, as well as marketing experts who can talk about marketing to the faith-based community.
Hollywood has a very narrow perspective as to what they think will be amenable to the African-American community, and that is primarily limited down to comedies. And why comedy certainly has a welcomed audience for minorities, I think there are other things that can be done in film as it relates to drama, suspense, action, etc., if they are done correctly. If there are proper budgets allocated in order to be competitive, I think you can produce a film that will attract minorities as well as the general populace. I would like to see that evolution begin to occur in the conversations in Hollywood.
EBONY: You have a new talk show, T. D. Jakes Presents: Mind, Body, and Soul, coming to BET this fall. How did the partnership arise?
TDJ: I thought that BET was good business partners for us. We have a shared base of followers between BET and T. D. Jakes Enterprises followers. I see the partnership with BET as more than an introduction of a talk show, but a partnership between brands where we can do future projects together down the road. I see this more than a one-off opportunity, but a birthing of a relationship between two bigger enterprises.
EBONY: Do you think the audience will be receptive to it?
TDJ: I really don’t know. I think that there is a market for it. I think there is an audience for it. I think that our show will be provocative and entertaining. But the public today is going through a major transition of what they are interested in. So we’re going to put it out there and see. I’m interested in it, and the people [who] have attended have loved it. I think it’s a great show, and we’ll see in the fall. I’ve interviewed LL Cool J, Steve Harvey, etc.
EBONY: How do you feel about shows like Preachers of L.A. or reality shows for the faith-based community?
TDJ: I think we are a spiritual people by nature. I think there’s a wide range of people within the African-American community that may not go to church, or related to somebody that does, and had some experience within the church, and they find it fascinating. It is perhaps the final frontier for entertainment. Some of the shows, I think, can be positive and some are not positive. As it relates to Preachers of L.A., I can’t comment on it because I haven’t seen it yet.
I hope we don’t entertain ultimately at the expense of ignoring the many actors and actresses who have given