Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Inside the Man of Steel: Interview with Xango Henry Pt. 1
His amazing smile shines on the big screen, the TV screen and the red carpets. I am talking about a man who is an actor, personal trainer, kick-boxer, and he has some talents that you will soon find out about in this interview. I am talking about Mr. Xango Henry. With all these skills and a hectic schedule, Xango is a proud Father of 5 children. Xango opens up in this interview and discusses his roots, shares his journey, fitness, his "Faster than a speeding bullet" acting career with over 27 feature films in over 2 years and giving back. Trust me you are going to be blown away! Life is good for the man of steel who feels with a big heart. This is the first part of one of an in depth interview in his own words.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan and moved to Atlanta,Georgia in 1996. I have been here (Los Angeles) a little over 2 years.
What is your nationality or cultural background?
I was born African American. My ancestry according to my Father's side is from Senegal, Nigeria. My great grandparents were slaves. I have a very large family in Birmingham, Alabama, many whom I have not met. I was not raised with my biological father. I began talking with him in 2005 after my Mother made her transition. He shared with me that my grandparents lived to be 123 years old and 115 years old. One had 16 children and the other had about 18 0r 19 children. They were basically breeders.
What were your emotions in learning that history?
There were pros and cons. I felt good to learn more about my ancestry. I knew very little. We were breeders. I was unhappy to know about that and the slave part. On the other hand I was happy to know where I came from and to know we had strong genes to live so long.
How did you get into acting and fitness?
I honestly believe that it was a gift that was given to me. I did not come to Los Angeles to act. I have been acting now for 2 years in November. I came here to do regular training, Body Building and security. I met Samuel L. Jackson’s wife, Tanya Richardson in Atlanta, Georgia. I met her through one of my clients, who was doctor. She gave me Billy Blanks brother's Michael Blanks number. Me and Michael talked and I was on my way to California. I had an associate/friend Daudi and his wife Israel and family also who had begun their move from Atlanta, connected with several entertainers among whom had offered them a reality T.V. deal based on their "Vegan Style food" way of life n which they wanted me on the show as the personal trainer. It was then that I decided to take some acting classes in order to be better prepared. That ultimately led to what is now my acting career. That is what sparked me to take an acting class. I was honored to take one with the great Ruben Moreno. He has done over 300 movies. After I completed Ruben’s training , he said, ”Xango, you have a future in acting.” I said, “Really” He said “Once a producer sees you; You are in” When I walked into my first audition the producer said “That is the Guy we are looking for!” That was the first project that I did. The DVD has been edited and just released this year. It is called “The Echo Game.” I have done 27 Films in 2 years.
What are your challenges as an African American Male actor? How do you overcome them?
I don’t have any challenges! I am going over what a challenge may be. I am going around it and I am going under it. If there is no other choice I am going straight through it. It is not me, it is the Most High. The Most High is directing my career, managing my career, guiding my career. My main publisher. The main movement or force behind me because I would have never thought in my 40’s that I would be an actor. The only thing that is stopping us now is ourselves.
Where did you study Martial Arts and Kickboxing?
I originally started in Detroit, Michigan. I started in the neighborhood with a coach. I was fighting everybody from the streets to the professionals. I was a black belt fighter of the street. I had to join a school to get the “official” karate training and compete in karate events. I advance very rapidly. I started as a white belt and quickly became a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree black belt. Then I obtained my Black Belt in Kung Fu. Then I decided I wanted to get into the ring and do some Kick Boxing. I fought in Detroit and Canada. It made me proud and understand our journey as a people. I wanted to bring back what I learned. As a very dark-skinned man, I grew up being the center of all the jokes. They use to call me Black, Burnt, Buckwheat and Tarbaby. I would be in tears. I remember entertaining thoughts that I wish that I wasn’t as black as I was. I had a sister and she was fair-skinned and she used to call me black. Isn’t that something that back then that was the worst thing that you could call someone. I remember crying to my mother and she said “Well, son. You are Black!” Then I began to read about our history and I was shocked like “Whoa”. We used to be Kings and Queens. We made the pyramids and Universities in Timbuktu?? That is a lot to be proud of. I began to walk in that joy and I shared that Joy. That Journey took over me wanting to be Heavy Weight Champion of the world. I wanted to box and kickbox. Muhammed Ali and Bruce Lee were my idols.
See I had a step father who paid all the bills but did not give me the “Rights of Passage”. He did all the other common basic things a father would do. But he did not teach me our history. I think everyone in America should know their history. Only by knowing what happened yesterday then we could intelligently discuss today! Because, today is built off yesterday and tomorrow will be built off today.
How long have you been a personal trainer?
I have been a personal trainer on paper for 10 years. However, I have been training and teaching people how to get and stay in condition for over 25 years.
What or who was your motivation or inspiration behind being a personal trainer?
It came from meeting those who didn’t know and wanted to know. I wanted to share and to give. Then I would take some of the children in Detroit to The University and teach them. Then, I became a teacher at Gold’s Gym. I developed a class called Jahqui which is similar to Tae Bo. Xango Fitness ties into who I am as a person as an actor, producer and director, I began to brand everything. I brand everything as Xango i.e Xango Fitness, Xango Nutrition and Xango Health. It is a very unique type of training.
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK