Chris Tucker hosts ‘A Harlem Renaissance’ charity gala: ‘I found there were a lot of things I took for granted …’

Chris Tucker and Keshia Knight Pulliam at the Chris Tucker Foundation’s 2015 “A Harlem Renaissance” gala. (Photo courtesy: Ray Cornelius)

Actor and stand-up comedian Chris Tucker has made us laugh with his memorable on-screen performances for just over two decades. He was once billed as one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood. The superstar doesn’t exactly need and introduction, but just in case you need a refresher, Tucker played the role of Smokey in Friday; and he’s widely known for his role as James Carter in the classic Rush Hour film series. His timeless comedic performances on “Def Comedy Jam” in the late 1990s is where his journey began. Tucker utilizes his talent for much more than the million-dollar roles pitched to him often.

On July 18, the Chris Tucker Foundation hosted their inaugural “A Harlem Renaissance” gala benefiting his nonprofit organization which is dedicated to impacting the lives of underprivileged youth by raising awareness through creative initiatives and programs. “I want to focus on mentorship and the new generation of the world. I want to enlighten them,” says Tucker.

The spectacular event was held at the St. Regis Hotel in Atlanta and was attended by notable guests, including Mayor Kasim Reed, former Mayor Bill Campbell, and actresses Terri  J. Vaughn and Keshia Knight Pulliam. Rolling out had a chance to speak with Tucker about what led him to start the Chris Tucker Foundation and his future plans for his charity.

Here is what he had to say:

What is the backstory of the Chris Tucker Foundation?
I was traveling and taking a lot of trips around the world in my early career and it just broadened my perspective on how good we have it here in America. I became very educated on what was happening in other countries with disease and poverty, so I wanted start my own foundation. I wanted to help those countries and also help here, because we have those same issues in the States. I wanted to do whatever I could whether if it just meant showing up or participating in the foundation’s events.

What were some of the most disturbing facts that you discovered during your travels?
I found there were a lot of things I took for granted like clean water issues in different parts of Africa. There were a lot of dead animals that were also lying close to the water and there was no way to keep the water filtered away from the city. That was disturbing for me, because that is their lifeline. I use to brush my teeth with bottled water in the States, so that really changed my perspective a lot and It made me want to do something about it. Also, the malaria issues and educational problems all were things I became engulfed with and knew there had to be something I could do to help.

What is your five-year plan for your foundation?
If it’s just one kid’s life that we help then that’s fine, but I really just want to just touch the world. I want to touch every generation of kids in France, Africa and all over. These young kids need to be inspired by somebody. One word can inspire a person and change their life.

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