"Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." - Proverbs 22:6
There's something about having a big homie. A big homie is a teacher. He or she can be a leader. He or she can be the person we look up to. Often times, he or she can act like a parent-like figure. That is a figure that every young person needs in his or her life.
It was 2002 when I met Corey Anderson. I was a freshman in high school and he was a senior. I always saw him around, but he was different. He was not intimidating like most seniors. He was mild-mannered. We had the same lunch period. But once again, he was a senior. I was freshman. So you know I'm not sitting at that table! However, it was not until baseball season when I really got to know Corey. As an athlete, we're competitors. Yet, as a young athlete we can be unsure of ourselves from time to time. Corey was a pitcher. I was a pitcher. He was on varsity. I was on the freshman team. During a Saturday practice, we played a game called "Strikeout". Now, there was a senior talking big noise during practice towards me. So, our coach called us to the carpet.
"(Player who will remain anonymous) will hit. Sam, you'll pitch."
I'm a FRESHMAN GOING AGAINST A SENIOR! I'm nervous.
Then, this deep voice comes from behind me and says "You got this", and walks away.
The batter steps up the plate. I head to the mound.
The first pitch is a fastball. Strike!
The second pitch is fastball. Strike two!
Now, the whole gym is looking!
Here comes the third fastball! It's a swing and a miss! It was a fastball up and in!
There is a reason for this story. That was the day that I realized that I could compete against anybody. Those words of encouragement helped me get through the rest of my playing years. That was Corey Anderson as an eighteen year old high school baseball player. At that stage in life, you don't know what a simple gestures like that can do for one's confidence. I know how it affected it me.
"He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly."- Acts 10:2
Wife, Starsheena Anderson and son, Landyn
At the young age of 34, Corey is a husband and father, first. However, he made it perfectly clear that he is a man of God. Aside from the married life, he has found himself in the world of acting and modeling with Christ as his compass.
"Corey Anderson is a God-fearing, hard-working, and family oriented man," he says. "I love to spend time with my family. I love the gym. Fitness is my passion. And I love helping our youth grow into productive members of society. Mentoring is essential for a better world"
Mentoring Chicago's youth is his passion. He is a mentor with Champs, which is a Chicago-based mentor group focused on working with young men between the ages of 13-18. Over the years, several of their young men have gone off to college. Some have even come back to become mentors themselves.
"I mentor through acting and modeling. I have several young men and women that want to get into the entertainment world, but they do not have the understanding of the BUSINESS side of the game. I try to teach the importance of not just working your talent, but the business side to ensure they're successful in this industry."
In 2014, Anderson got his first break. It started with a casting call. He was introduced to the world of modeling by runway modeling producer, Blake Martin. He was one of sixty-four models chosen to rip the runway, and as he would say "the rest was history".
"I specialize in runway, which lead to editorial and print work which is commercials, ads, and so on. Through my relationships built over the last five years, I've been able to work with several big companies and it's been a great ride! All glory to God."
Currently, he works with the likes of Nike, Starbucks, and Bulletproof Coffee as a brand model.
However, aligned with success is a bit of hardship. According to Anderson, there is a struggle between social media and the business side.
"Everyone says that they're a model or an actor on Instagram, and it damages the game in my opinion. Everyone isn't a professional! There is nothing wrong with the word aspiring. Other hardships is knowing that you're not going to make a ton of money in modeling. There's a slim chance you'll be the next Tyson Beckford. So you must know the business side of the game before entering it."
However, the biggest struggle he says is being away from his wife and son.
"I have a successful brand and with success requires time away from family to ensure your relevance."
None the less, he attributes his handling of those hardships to a marriage built on faith and prayer. On the high end, though, modeling has allowed him to network with other professionals and learn more about his craft.
His advice is to not isolate yourself and to be a sponge.
Aside from a strong modeling career, he's ingratiated himself in the world of acting. Retreat back to my story and revert back to my line about his voice. That same voice landed him an audition, and he never looked back.
"I started doing commercials which lead to being an extra on big productions in Chicago such as Chicago PD, Chicago Fire, and others. I have also done featured work on these shows and it raises my confidence to want to pursue acting further. Since then, I have done a few commercials, one stage play, and a few independent films. I also had an appearance on Widows, which featured Viola Davis as a reporter."
One of the downsides to acting he says is understanding whether or not you have a passion for acting. Better yet, are doing it for the money?
"You must love and work on your craft before you can make money in it", he adds.
He did mention that the biggest reward is seeing your name in the credits.
"You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." -Colossians 3:12
In the journey of life and our respective careers, we are not short on those who push us to be the best version of ourselves. Corey Anderson is no different.
The list goes a little something like this:
"My wife, Starsheena Anderson (CEO of Cutting Edge Models);
my dad, Ernest Anderson; my mom, Georgia Anderson; my grandfather (deceased) Ernest Anderson; my mentor, Vondale Singleton, and my brothers at Champs; my manager, Karren Pratt; my agency, Gill Talent; and the many actors, actresses, and models that I cannot name; and my church Greater Grace Through Faith Ministries."
But why does he do all of these amazing things? What exactly was his reason?
"My why is simply why not me? Why not live my dream and push the culture forward for the youth, my family, and my community. Why not leave a legacy for my child and wife? Why not be the best version of me? My why is to be an example for the youth and others that want to live their dreams. If God put it on your heart to do it, DO IT!"
"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them." -Isaiah 11:6