Personal matters aside, Nick Cannon is one of the hardest working businessmen in the entertainment industry today. The actor, producer, musician and television show host has long expressed his desire to build a media empire and with each calculated move he makes, he only pushes himself closer to that goal. 

Chipping away brick-by-brick, the California native recently dropped the first season of his new docuseries, Nick Cannon Presents: Future Superstars, which airs on Vh1. In the show, viewers are able to follow the personal— and often candid— journeys of nine up-and-coming musicians, whom Cannon feels have the “it” factor, as they work to become the next big thing. The entertainer also guides and mentors them along the way, which he says is his main focus in this current chapter of life.

“As an executive having a record label and production company, I miss the days when artists truly had to develop first. It’s really a page out of the great Barry Gordy’s book, when he would put artists like Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross on a bus around the country, and that’s how people were introduced to superstars during that time,” Nick Cannon tells EBONY. “Those days really aren’t around anymore, and I’m hoping this show brings back that same energy, and that we get to be a conduit of curation.”

We sat down to chat further with Cannon over Zoom from his studio, where he shared more about the series, what’s needed for him to reach that level of empire status, as well as how he manages his work-life balance while dealing with lupus. 

EBONY: Was there a key piece of advice you gave to the artists on the series that you would in turn give to any other aspiring artist or entertainer of today?

Nick Cannon: I honestly don’t like giving out advice, but rather I try to lead by example. From being on time, being professional and conducting yourself with grace and gratitude. Luckily, a lot of these young people were already in that wave, so I didn’t have to do much there. I also remind them to remember to never lose the drive for what it is that made you an artist. 

There have been times in past interviews where you’ve mentioned that sometimes your hard work in the industry is overshadowed by personal issues. In working with these young artists on the show, how did you advise them as far as feeling like they aren’t being seen when it comes to their craft? 

We all feel that way, even me at times. You feel like, ‘am I doing all of this for no reason?’ But if you really love it and have a passion for it, it shouldn’t be for the admiration of others, but for the love within yourself. That's ultimately why I do it. Sure, it would be nice for others to recognize the effort and hard work, but if you’re doing it for the right reasons, the recognition will come when it’s supposed to.

You’ve always expressed your desire to build a media empire, and this is simply a stepping stone toward that. What’s next for you, and do you feel like you are close to achieving that goal?

In my eyes, I’m still going and there’s so much left to do. I feel like I’m in a space now in my career where it’s all about giving others opportunities and building platforms for the next generation to thrive— which is also a part of building an empire. It can’t be all about self. I have so many more passion projects, including diving more into the film space. But, right now I’m in my executive bag more than anything, and giving others opportunities along the way.

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Nick Cannon. Image: VH1/ Nick Cannon Presents: Future Superstars.

Speaking of building that empire, you’re a busy man. You’re an author, you host, act and so much more. How do you balance it all, especially battling lupus in the process?

With grace and gratitude more than anything. I’m just grateful to wake up healthy every day and try to make the most out of it, knowing that each day won’t be perfect, and some days will be harder than others. But, really looking at it as a privilege and an opportunity no matter how hard it is, because it could be much more difficult, or I could not have any of this at all. So, each day that I can wake up and jump out of bed, I’m ready to attack all the tasks head on. That’s how I’ve always viewed it, conditions aside. I can’t believe I get the opportunity to be a part of this world and affect it in a major way.

You’ve already checked off so many of the boxes, but are there plans to add other means of media to your already growing roster? Or will you jump back into some of those older spaces that we first came to know you for?

Absolutely! Acting is one of my first and consistent loves. So, you’ll definitely see more films. As far as music, this is my current exploration as far as “Future Superstars” goes. It allows me to be a producer and executive in the space. Me as an artist, I feel like I’ve outgrown that space. But, you never know. The artist in me is always going to be able to sit down at a piano and write a song. I think that will always be there, but me out there as an artist, I will leave that to the future superstars.