In the entertainment industry, Terry Crews has been an anomaly. Maybe you know him from his 130 episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Or as an action hero from The Expendables. Or as a host on America’s Got Talent. There’s a lot of multi-hyphenates in showbiz, but it’s unusual for one man to have so many. Terry Crews has evolved into a veritable brand — one that might be more recognizable now than Old Spice, the one that really put him on the map.
NBC’s LIVE! A Very Terry Christmas: Cozy 24-Hour Painting Sesh With Terry Crews, 2018
Long before Terry Crews became recognized as Terry Crews, he was a young artist honing his craft as an illustrator and painter. Hailing from a religious household, he wasn’t allowed to do much except hang out at home. No movies. No playing. Just solitude with nothing but his imagination. At some point, he learned to play the flute.
“I used to spend hours just on my own, drawing,” Crews explains to L.A. Weekly. “I would draw the movies that I wasn’t allowed to see. I learned to go into this creative space in my head. I’m left handed but right-brained, so art just took.”
He carried the craft into adulthood, where the only time he didn’t draw was in game season during his career as an NFL player (add it to the list of hyphens), because he was always nursing broken fingers. After he was cut from his team, he kept his family afloat by painting commissioned portraits of other players, which looked so realistic that people wouldn’t even compliment his craft — they thought they were looking at photos.
furniture line for Bernhardt Design. There’s the Come Find Me children’s book he illustrated (and turned into an AR experience). There’s the cover he illustrated for Ad Age. There’s the Bob Ross–style Christmas painting special he did for NBC. Currently, he’s working on his first graphic novel.
There are full-time artists who don’t accomplish half of what Terry does as a creative, and he attributes his success to the discipline and regimentation he learned from sports training and time in the gym. Without a doubt, Terry Crews is a modern day Renaissance man (Google it), but mostly, he’s just Terry Crews.
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