It’s good to be Terry Crews. As his new memoir Manhood hits bookshelves, Crews showed up on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon to “nip-sync” his best Stevie Wonder to Fallon’s Paul McCartney for perhaps the world’s most memorable rendition of “Ebony and Ivory.” Earlier this month, he was named the new host of ABC’s rebooted “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” (In New York earlier this week, when asked if he would try to resuscitate the monochrome “Regis” look as a game-show host, the muscle-bound actor joked that he plans to “wear all of Regis’s old clothes—not the look, the actual clothes.” We look forward to that.) Men’s Fitness caught up with Crews to discuss his new book and get his unique advice for men everywhere.
Men’s Fitness: What made you want to write the book? What was your inspiration?
Terry Crews: I have been Tweeting a lot about my life and about being married and kids. Little life blessings and all of that. I’m thinking, I can’t tweet everything. I’m gonna run out of space. So I would bring something up and I’d get all these questions. Being married twenty-five years and kids, a grandbaby, I get questions like, “How did you do it, what’s going on?” And you can’t even do it all in an interview. I go on talk shows and all that stuff and you’re just dotting a little bit of what is happening. This is the way to tell my story, in the way I want it told. Just to answer a lot of questions about me. I’m just honored that someone wanted to actually do it. You can’t tweet everything, a book is the only way to go.
MF: Manhood is a pretty broad term. What are the themes of the book that you cover?
TC: First of all, it’s all about me. All the mistakes that I’ve made in the course of becoming a man. There were periods in my life of astounding immaturity, cringe-worthy moments that right now, I look back and I go, “Holy cow!” I was thirty-five and I was like, you know what? I’m an idiot. It’s weird because as an actor, sometimes the immaturity is rewarded. And as a former athlete, immaturity gets rewarded in a lot of ways. You’re really never asked to grow up. What I really wanted to face and to show in the book is that the moment I became a man… it kind of gets highlighted. It’s really one of those things where my family was the challenge for that. They really pushed me and forced me into ways that I had to mature. I had to grow up or I was really going to face my own demise. It’s not manhood as it is to everybody, it’s more my story, my take on it and what it took for me to become what I consider now being a man.
MF: Do you think your story is relatable to a lot of people?
TC: I do. To anyone that had to overcome any obstacle. Anybody who had to overcome anything in their marriage, anything with their kids. I’m what you would call the manliest man ever, by all intents and purposes. Here I was playing in the NFL, I could squat 550 pounds, I could shoot a gun, I have no problems with that stuff. I think by the worlds definition of “manhood” I was all those things. I had kids, I had pretty much bought the whole package. But I wasn’t a man. I was still a child. There’s a big difference between being childlike and being childish. Childlike is a good thing, but I was childish. I just wouldn’t grow up. A lot of times it’s funny because whenever I do anything for my family, anything for my wife and kids, I really, really understand what being a man is about. For a long time I was the “Don’t cry, I’ll give you something to cry about” guy. It was not a good place to be. Usually those guys end up alone,. I was headed on that path.
MF: If you had one piece of advice for a guy who wants to be a better man today, what would it be?
TC: My best piece of advice is just that you cannot control someone and love them at the same time. Once I got that, [I realized that] every bit of anxiety and stress and pain was from my attempt to control people. That’s what we all do, we’re all trying to get your wife to do this, get your family to do this, get your employer to do this, get your coworkers to do this. All that stress and pain comes from that attempt to control. But you’re not loving people if you do that. You’re trying to control people, therefore you’re going to control your situation. You have to let people be who they are in order to love them. When it’s someone who is really, really cool that can do whatever they want to do, and they still like you? That’s a true friend.
MF: Was writing this book as hard or as easy as you thought it would be?
TC: It was extremely hard because first of all, I had to go back and realize that I had a lot of pain. I was still angry at a lot of people. It’s actually two books…the one I wrote and then the one I had to rewrite. You really have to kind of go back and examine what your problems are. There were points in the book where I was reading it and I was blaming people for stuff; I was a victim. I can’t do that. It’s really still hard to get over and to let go because you have to go back into all this stuff and dig. It was like going through a hoarder’s garage. It’s kind of like you’re with me while I’m cleaning all this stuff up.
MF: What does it really mean to be a man, according to Terry Crews?
TC: Taking responsibility for everything in your life. That’s what it is, that’s all it is. Taking responsibility for where you are, good or bad.
Manhood is available from Random House and Zinc Ink, and in bookstores everywhere.