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Posted on Aug 16, 2017

At 14, actor and entrepreneur Ajani Carr speaks out for African-American youth

At 14, actor and entrepreneur Ajani Carr speaks out for African-American youth

By Erik Lorenzsonn, The Cap Times

Ajani Carr, a 14-year-old who lives in Fitchburg, makes it a point to be himself.

When he meets with community leaders or journalists to pitch his nonprofit Building Bosses, a program designed to teach teenagers to start businesses, he wears bandannas, a hoodie, sometimes an afro pick.

As a budding actor, he often auditions for TV shows and movies. He has two personal rules for the roles he considers: He doesn’t want to cut off his afro, and he doesn’t want to have to change the way he talks.

When he gives speeches to affluent audiences, he likes to name-drop rappers: Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and Tupac Shakur are among his favorites.

Carr — a charismatic teenager with a beaming smile and a message of positivity — figures that if he can make an impression, maybe the people he meets will change their preconceived notions.

“When you see a teenage black kid walking down the street with crazy hair and a hoodie on, it’s like, ‘Huh, that’s not a businessman,’” said Carr. “Some people are intimidated by it. You get crazy looks for it all the time.

“I think if people start to accept the fact that people dress how we dress, and talk how we talk, and still be businessmen or women or amazing people, that’d be good. It eliminates the assumptions,” he said.

Carr has a robust resume for someone so young: He is an entrepreneur, a public speaker, a volunteer, and an actor who makes appearances on TV shows like NBC’s “Chicago P.D.” and PBS’s “Mercy Street.” He has emerged as a voice for youth in the Madison community, speaking out on issues from mall curfews to policing.

His mission is to help young people like himself — whether that means changing the way white people look at them, teaching them how to express themselves, molding them into entrepreneurs, or simply letting their voices be heard. Read more …