To be a leader on an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) campus is to be busy and in demand all the time. Many wouldn’t be able to handle the pressure, if not for their strong internal desire to succeed and leave their HBCU better than how they found it. Successful people like Jamie Foxx and Kemp Powers mirror this drive in their own careers, but where does it come from? 

Their new project “Soul” is all about how to find and follow your gift in life, and we just had to know more. On Wednesday, December 16, we hosted an eye-opening HBCU roundtable hosted by Terrence J and invited 10 talented HBCU students to speak to these legendary men and learn what it takes to live out their dreams! 

Soul is an inspiring Disney and Pixar film that introduces Joe Gardner (voice of Jamie Foxx) – a middle-school band teacher who gets the chance of a lifetime to play at the best jazz club in town. But one small misstep takes him from the streets of New York City to The Great Before – a fantastical place where new souls get their personalities, quirks and interests before they go to Earth. Determined to return to his life, Joe teams up with a precocious soul, 22 (voiced by Tina Fey), who has never understood the appeal of the human experience. As Joe desperately tries to show 22 what’s great about living, he may just discover the answers to some of life’s most important questions.

Aside from the talent, the panel was truly filled with exceptional representations of HBCU excellence! Host Terrence J, who attended North Carolina A&T State University, kept everyone’s energy up with some good laughs. The students who were present were Victor Solomon, the 14th Mister North Carolina A&T State University; Tuskegee University junior and SGA President Daniel Ryan; Dre’Shawn Spearman of Morehouse College, who landed in our top 5 of HBCU Buzz’s 2020 Best HBCU DJs list;  and aspiring host and junior Broadcast Journalism major Ciara White-Sparks of Hampton University. Other exceptional students  on the roundtable hailed from Fisk University, Texas Southern University, Florida A&M University, Howard University, Morgan State University, and Prairie View A&M University!

There are so many gems in this roundtable! In the film, Jamie Foxx’s character follows his passion for music, even when others discourage him. This seemed to get to Howard University student Jordyn Allen, who is an Honors International Business major. 

We often see students who are interested in pursuing the arts being put down for their career choices. What would you say to the child out there that wants to pursue the arts, but is told it’s just not profitable?”

As a man from a small town who is now the first Black lead in a Pixar film, Jamie had the perfect response. 

“Forget all that man you go get it!” This is the time to go get it right now! Especially for your generation man to be honest with you, the social media thing, if I had THAT back in the day? The fact that I could just turn my camera on and anybody could see me? Listen this is the time to go pursue all the dreams…”

He went on to tell a story about his legendary house parties, which he would throw just to meet other up and coming entertainers like Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams of the Neptunes, Kanye West, and more. It was that thirst for being surrounded by and collaborating with greatness that has helped bring his career to where it is today! 

But Jamie wasn’t the only one making friends for life. Kemp Powers spoke to the students about how his experience at Howard University gave him a friend group that has found success alongside him.

“Our entire floor at Drew Hall at Howard, that’s my peer group today. My boy Douglas Kearney was down the hall, he’s a nationally recognized poet. His roommate was Young Guru, who ended up being Jay-Z’s engineer… You guys have a built-in peer group amongst your friends…”Watch our roundtable here and prepare to be motivated! Then on December 25, you can stream Soul on Disney+ and see why we were all inspired!