BE Modern Man is an integrative program that honors the essence, image, and accomplishments of today’s man of color. With features of today’s leaders, executives, creatives, students, politicians, entrepreneurs, professionals, and agents of change—these men share the common thread of creating a new normal while setting the bar in tech, art, philanthropy, business, and beyond. The BE Modern Man is making a positive impact, his way, and has a story to tell.
BE MODERN MAN CICERO LEAK
Profession: Talent Agent, Co-Founder/CEO of TLS Talent Agency
One Word That Describes You: Believer
What does being one of the BE Modern Man 100 Honorees mean to you?
It is such an honor to be chosen. I would tell my friends in high school I wanted to be successful and to one day be on the cover of Black Enterprise magazine. I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I did know I wanted to be on the cover because to me that meant you made it. So now being one of the BE Modern Man 100 Honorees is like a dream come true
What is your “Extraordinary Impact?”
Deciding to start a talent agency in 2009 was a big step for me. There weren’t many African American talent agents and not being located in Los Angeles or New York was going to be an even bigger challenge. But I was determined to not let that stop me. So instead of sitting down trying to come up with a strategic plan, I decided to throw myself out to the wolves and just hit the ground running. My first clients were Kid ‘n Play and that opened up the door for me to meet people in the entertainment industry and sign on other talent.
What are you doing as a BEMM to help support black male achievement now or in the future?
As a BEMM, my goal is to help others believe they can achieve anything if they put their mind to it. It’s important to me to help those who think you have to have certain things in order to make their dreams a reality when all you have to do is get started and don’t worry about all the challenges that are ahead, just keep going. Don’t be afraid to take that leap of faith and believe in yourself.
(Photo Credit: Courtesy of Cicero Leak)
What are some examples of how you have turned struggle into success?
When I started my agency, I didn’t know anyone in Hollywood, no clients, and no money. I felt like I was taking a road less traveled living in North Carolina. I had a wife and three kids to take care of but that didn’t stop me from hitting the ground running. I was so confident in my ability to make things happen I didn’t let the things that would stop most people from taking that big step deter me from achieving my goals.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
We have clients on several different shows on network television, touring, and creating new projects but our focus right now is growing the agency. Build the first black-owned agency that is on the level of the majors: WME, CAA, ICM, etc., and help other African Americans that want to be an agent get into the business. Our goal is to venture into sports and build the agency to help clients achieve their goals in all areas of entertainment and sports
What is the best advice you have ever received?
The best advice I received was from my stepfather, NC State Representative “Mickey” Michaux. He is someone I look up to for all he has done to help others. He always would say don’t compromise who you are and your integrity for success and to always do the right thing no matter what. Also, a quote from Oprah Winfrey has stuck with me over the years: “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.”
What advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
The best advice I can give to other men who want to make a difference is to always believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to fail. If you are failing that means you are trying and if you keep pushing forward that day will come when things turnaround. Also, nothing happens overnight. You have to have patience and when you achieve your goals allow yourself to feel the fullness of your success.
It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow @BEModernMan and join the conversation using #BEModernMan.
Come celebrate the BE Modern Man 100 Men of Distinction at the 2nd Annual Black Men XCEL, Aug. 29–Sept. 2, 2018, at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.