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FunTimes Magazine

Kyle “JR” Morris

Kyle “JR” Morris quit his job as the dean of Students at an alternative high school in  Southwest Philadelphia, to create “an empire to empower the next generation.” He is the founder of Encore Entertainment, an organization that’s dedicated to creatively educating and inspiring people through art, entertainment, and fashion. Morris believes that “education cannot be limited to the classroom.”

Through his multi-faceted organization, Morris holds events and youth programs aimed to connect people to the opportunities to better themselves and their communities. The youth programs include a camera course, economic education, and a nature camp. They also host numerous events that include music, art, and dialogue, aimed to strengthen our communities.

How did you figure out what your passion is?

My mother, Trish Lowry, always emphasized the importance of service and advocacy. I have seen her open up her home and heart countless times. I had the opportunity to grow up watching my father, KD Morris, teach poetry and photography during the week, and host spoken word events on weekends.

These experiences sparked my interest in figuring out how to use my creativity to make this world a better place. I wasn’t sure how, but a friend gave me a “purpose venn diagram”. By completing it, I was able to discover my purpose and my passion. I became more intentional about how I spent my time and learned to move with a purpose.

What has been the most rewarding part of your journey so far?

Discovering my purpose is the most rewarding part of this journey. After being shot six times on New Year’s Eve in 2013, a friend lost his life, and I lost my way. Between survivor, guilt and preexisting mental health issues, I fell into a period of severe self-medication. It took me a while to find out why I’m still here. It played a major role in my career and ultimately, my mental health. I was able to keep my needs first which allowed me to make better decisions for my businesses. After discovering my purpose, I have been able to find peace, and that is priceless.

What else would you like to accomplish?

I am going to continue creatively educating and inspiring people through art, entertainment, and fashion while connecting them to opportunities to better themselves and their communities.

We will have quarterly edutainment experiences, monthly mental health workshops, weekly tv show, and daily podcasts. I will also get a doctorate in Educational Leadership, and teach in the community, Cheyney University, and Lincoln University. I will partner with courageous leaders to open a center that supports the advancement of our people.

What advice would you give to other young people beginning their careers?

Love yourself. Pursue your purpose, not the paper. Do what you love, and love what you do. Don’t sleep on your dreams, and your dreams will come true. Seek mental health services frequently, and protect your light.

What does being a part of the African Diaspora mean to you?

Being a part of the African Diaspora is like waking up before your alarm sounds and finding out you don’t have to go to work because you’re already rich. I didn’t always think this way. It took me a while to embrace my Blackness. I thought I had to be a certain “type of Black”, because of what I saw in the media and friends. Over time I learned the gift that came with this culture. I realized the royalty that came with this legacy. Being Black is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

Nominated by Kittura Dior