He is a far stretch from the ruthless character Quincy he portrays on OWN’s “The Haves And Have Nots.” But if Medina Islam‘s life ever became a movie, it would have a similar title. Having faced many obstacles, Medina has allowed his tribulations to be his motivation. He is determined to be the world’s greatest.
A native of Newark, New Jersey he’s ghostwritten lyrics for several of today’s top platinum selling artists and is known in music circles as 6Milly.
The actor-recording artist-model shares why becoming an actor broadened his depth as a creative, opens up about his mother’s mental illness, rejection and how he coped with homelessness.
What led to your career choice?
I was a hip-hop recording artist and ghostwriter before I became an actor. I was discovered by Tyler Perry and I feel music prepared me for acting. My timing and instincts in acting all come from music. I’ve lived a real life and music was a platform to paint real stories. Acting just became another canvas to paint and make the story more vivid.
What separates you from others in your craft?
What separates me from most in my field is my interpretation of my art and circumstances. I’ve been homeless, suicidal, shot at and survived an almost fatal street life. My mother was schizophrenic and I grew up bailing her out of jail and visiting her in mental institutions. I’ve been up. I’m grateful for my struggle. I have no fear of loss and overcoming obstacles. It has given me a superior advantage in connecting with the characters I play and creative choices I make.
What skill set does it take?
Self mastery. I believe that talent is overrated. It’s actually a book I read by Geoff Colvin when I was on the street. I used to go in the back of the library and read when I was homeless. I read the Bible in six months. Preparation means everything to me. Talent can open doors but not only that, it takes being relentless, being repetitive, doing things a million times a day and hard work are the only tools that can guarantee self mastery.
What keeps you at the leading edge of your craft?
I stay at the leading edge of my craft because I have found my purpose. My purpose is to create and inspire. I have an apparel line called Made by Medina launching this fall, a new movie and sitcom coming out this year as well as a hip-hop album titled The Love That Hate Made: Part 2. I’m creating a movement of branding my fans in social media as the #worldsgreatest because many of them have endured similar experiences as me and they need to see someone embody that light at the end of the tunnel.
Will Smith inspired me to master myself and develop that omnipotent singular focus. I only have one goal in life. I want to be the world’s greatest. It’s been this way since I was in the fourth grade, stood up and told the whole class. They all laughed at me, including my teacher. But I was dead serious. I believe severe trauma can produce severe drive. I watched my momma prostitute herself in dirty motels and I knew from an early age that if I worked hard and just held on, eventually I would win. I didn’t know what my occupation would be and honestly I didn’t care. I just knew I wanted to be excellent. Music and acting are just ways to express it.
How do you approach learning in your craft?
Continued learning is so important because when you enter into that elite level of self mastery, learning becomes your new heartbeat. You will artistically die if you don’t constantly seek out new information and new inspiration. Einstein once said imagination is more important than knowledge. Staying hungry nurtures your purpose and provides circulation to new thoughts. And these new thoughts are the cornerstone to new ideas that can change the world.