Bishop T.D. Jakes has become a huge presence in the African-American community over the last few years. Slowly growing as a writer and businessman, most people are familiar with his work as a preacher, where his sermons draw such huge numbers that some might think he’s a religious rock star.
Whether he’s preaching his faith or talking business, Jakes is always a comfortable speaker. B OXOFFICE was able to catch up with him while he was promoting his latest project, the film adaptation of “Not Easily Broken,” the second of his novels to get the Hollywood treatment (the first was “Woman Thou Art Loosed”). When asked whether he’s more comfortable writing or speaking, Jakes surprisingly thinks writing gives him a better outlet to express his thoughts and engage his audience.
“I think if I ever had to choose between one over the other, I would choose the writing over the speaking. It’s a whole different part of my brain and to me it’s a better part because with writing you can deliberate over your word. You can erase it, delete it and redo it but with speaking it’s out there. You’ve only got a few seconds or moments out there. Maybe you can go back and say, 'Oh god, why did I use such a dumb word?' The other thing, in order to communicate with a physical audience you will sacrifice the supremacy of linguistical excellence to find something that’s funny and entertaining. And you don’t have to acquiesce to that when you’re writing, you can be more focused on the specificity of finding the appropriate word to communicate a thought.”
Being primarily known as a preacher can have its drawbacks. At heart Jakes is a preacher and loves to speak about his faith whenever possible but he also has other aspirations. His business ventures aside, he believes it’s easy to get pigeonholed as just one thing and not be treated like a human being.
“Sometimes when people meet you as a preacher they put you in this prison from which you cannot escape because they think you’re only one thing. And sometimes that’s asphyxiating when you’re creative and have diverse interests. I want to talk about my faith but I also want to talk about the weather and I want to talk about raising kids and I want to talk about politics and golf and everything in the world. Sometimes when people think you’re monolithic and myopic, they suddenly think you’re insignificant and ignorant. I think people are starting to get me now, it took a long time for people to get me because I’m sort of out of the box, I want to do other things. You might be me on TBN one day and see me on MSNBC the next day and I’m interested in everything because I’m learning every day and learning is hunger of the mind. I want to know everything, I should’ve been a reporter to ask questions.”
When I suggest to Jakes that he and I switch places for a day, he become a celebrity journalist and I become a preacher, we both let out a huge laugh right before he shakes my hand and playfully says, “Let’s try it!”
Not Easily Broken is now playing in theatres everywhere.
CLICK HERE to listen to our entire interview with T.D. Jakes.