Interview by Uriah Young
QFTD: Tell us about yourself. Who is Tim Lee?
Tim: I am multifaceted and have multiple personalities. Tim Lee is part star, entertainer, leader, motivator, and inspirational speaker. I love to act and speak. I am also an actor. I write poetry and produce events. I bring concepts to reality. I have always been kind of a HAM... I was nervous in the beginning, but then I got used to it. I was brought up in the church and learned to put others before myself. I learned to give to others. I am a person who tries to put my money where my mouth is and let my actions speak for themselves. Being the son of a preacher probably contributed to who I am today.
QFTD: You have dedicated so much of your time helping others and giving back to your community. Where does that motivation come from?
Tim: I always had great mentors who were close in age to me. I have tried to be the same for others. There have been a few threads that ran throughout my life...the spiritual thread, there’s the black elevation thread, the self-help and the law-of-attraction thread. I figured that, as African-Americans, if there is a problem that we are in, I think we should be actively part of the solution. The hope is to plant a seed and water that seed, so that when the time is right, it will sprout and grow. The passion comes from wanting to make a difference, starting with myself, my people, and my community. Children are more impressionable than adults. We have to make them believe they can change the world.
QFTD: Your organization, One Black Man, has done some very special things for the young black males in the Chicago area. Where did the idea to start this leadership program originate? Please elaborate.
Tim: When I was in seminary, I had an independent study and I had to create a curriculum. It focused on SELF-KNOWLEDGE, AWARENESS, and RESPONSIBILITY. A quote I made up came from those three virtues. KNOW WHO I AM; THEREFORE I CAN, and SO I WILL, BECAUSE I MUST. Around that time, my roommate and I started mentoring middle school kids. We'd buy pizza, take the kids out in the yard, and have a lunch bunch. It was very fulfilling mentoring the kids. Then, one day, because I was new to Chicago and didn't know anyone, I sat in my living room and imagined what I wanted. I came up with the idea of creating an organization that impacts the community through the teaching of history and touches on leadership. I tapped into the elements that began in college. I was seen as a leader, and I had to re-step back into that role. If expectation of leadership can do that for me, maybe it could do the same for the misguided youth of Chicago.
QFTD: What are the long term goals for One Black Man (OBM)? What is your vision for this worthy cause?
Tim: It is in process. It is still maturing. I seek to develop a team that will help OBM gain traction and exposure to fulfill its goals. It’s tough to raise money these days. What I am doing makes me think of John Legend and Alicia Keys... they both have very serious nonprofits and use their celebrity/talent to fund their philanthropic projects. So, I have shifted focus of developing on the ground, and try to move into a status where we can attract sponsors through performances in the arts field.
QFTD: You play a huge role in an event called "An Evening With Tim Lee". What's it all about, and why are you a part of it?
Tim: My experience with youth is that they possess so much talent. The event you mentioned gives them a stage to display that tremendous talent. First of all, they have a desire and interest. Then, practice gives them a chance to be productive. Overall, it gives them an outlet to express themselves. It provides a place to feel safe, as opposed to being out on the streets getting into trouble. Some funds are going to go to the church where I serve as the youth minister.
QFTD: The last show like this was held during Christmas. What will make this event different from the last?
Tim: One thing I am proud of for this event is the level of talent. Expectations are high because of the previous event's success. There are more acts providing variety for the audience. Opera. Tap dancing. So much! The level of talent has also increased. Since the last event created such a buzz, more people want to be a part of it. People were still trying to be part of the program up to the last week. The theme for this is a message to the youth. We hope it addresses the city’s violence problem and also to let the youth know that you should always believe yourself.
QFTD: What else is coming down the road for you, Tim? Any other grand projects we can expect to see?
Tim: I am continuing to build OBM. I expect to grow, personally. I hope to work on a book or a play in the future, combining various talents - if I can dream big, I will try to be a combination of Oprah and Tyler Perry.
To see more from Tim Lee, click below.