By Ernie McCray
The other day, for some reason, a wonderful memory rose in my mind of times when my grandson, Marlon, was dancing on the stage at SCPA (School of Creative and Performing Arts) to the hooting and hollering sounds of girls who were swooning from the very sight of him.
As I remembered those days I couldn’t help but think about how I had never experienced anything like that. Ever. I mean I’ve wondered a few times how somebody in my bloodline came out looking as fine as he does.
Since those days, he’s evolved into ML Wilson, performer, rapper, actor, a hip-hop-beat-maker. Living in San Francisco, pursuing his showbiz dreams.
I get to see it unfold mostly on facebook: he and his friends out on the town, getting down, in an “Uptown Funk” kind of way. “Don’t believe me just watch (come on).”
And the best part of it all is he’s a great guy. The coolest aspect of him, in my way of thinking, is his way with people, how respectful and humble he is even though, right now, he’s strutting like a drum major in an HBCU college marching band. What an exciting life.
In following him I can’t say that he makes this old man “wish for younger days.” but I can identify with him because like him I’ve always been a person of the stage.
In my standup comedy days I was laughing and making people laugh to keep from crying, burdened by the weight of circumstances in my life that had careened out of control, driving me out of my mind and skin and draining my soul. I was hanging and holding on. Barely…
But ML is having one hell of a time and that makes me smile and want to say to him, in the hip-hop-like way of my day: “Go on wit yo bad self.”
I’m digging seeing him do “his thang.” I mean how cool must it be to stand in for Steph Curry in an ESPN spot? Or be an extra in a Super Bowl commercial on CBS? Or have your smile catch the eyes of passersby from a “# Pier 39” billboard adorning a street in the City by the Bay?
I’m with him all the way.
When Zmodo Pivot needed somebody to play a father and Bluegrass Cellular and PayPal wanted somebody to portray a businessman for one of their ads I’m glad he was the man that caught their attention.
I hope he’s learning about life in the roles he’s been given: a football teammate for Beats by Dre; a basketball player for a PSA; an office worker for HP; a commutor for Bigelow Tea; a client for a company that sells acne cream; a runway model, fit model, clothing model, swimsuit model, skin care model, a model for Detail Magazine; a best friend, a hero, a shopper, a small business owner, a tablet user – for more companies than I can mention in a few pages…
At age 78 this is dizzying to me and it’s just a fraction of what he’s up to besides: creating new music to be released soon; jamming with a new band that goes by the name of “Travel the Sun”; preparing for a guest role on “I Almost Got Away with It” on the Discovery Channel.” Season 8. Episode 7.
Seems he’s really on a roll.
May he pose before the cameras as long as they allow him to and/or for as long as it satisfies his soul.
I know, though, that in the entertainment industry folks can sometimes compromise themselves and stray from their values, who they really are, just to get a foot in the door, a place at the table.
But I would hope that ML always tries to maintain integrity in what he creates, that he, particularly, in the songs he writes, gets way past the “back that thang up, baby” raw approach of his teens and early 20’s – into deep and poignant and soulful lyrics that affirm life and uplift spirits in a troubled and confused world.
I guess I’m saying my biggest expectation for my grandson is that he’ll always be true to himself, “breaking a leg” in his performing career as the loving, caring, outgoing, giving, entertaining human being I have known and loved all his life.
Meanwhile, I’ll just keep on having fun watching him have fun for as long as I can.