Comedian Roy Wood Jr. Gets Serious at MEC

Wood, who hosted six MEC students last October in his role as a correspondent on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” came to MEC on Tuesday as part of the College’s “Conversations with Success” series. He stressed hard work, persistence, networking, and respect for others in the climb to the top.

His appearance drew several aspiring entrepreneurs and he freely gave out contact information for possible connections.

Last year, Wood interviewed MEC students for a Daily Show segment about the undecided black youth vote in the upcoming presidential election.

The 38-year-old comedian from Birmingham, Ala. recalled falling in love with comedy around age 13 or 14. But he lacked the courage to “get booed,” back then, caring more at that age about fitting in. A run-in with the law while in college -- which left him facing a possible prison sentence -- gave him the courage to get out there, he recalled. He avoided prison, got his degree in broadcasting, and began working.

“I was versatile and able to do a number of jobs concurrently,” he said. “You have to provide value to people so they want to work with you,” he said. Figure out how to do “some of the other stuff involved in what you want to do,” he told students.

And while everyone needs guidance, remember there are two types of mentors, he said: those who have made it and those trying to make it. When making contact, “try to find a way to add value to that person first,” he suggested. You can do that by reaching out with a structured plan and one good question to open up a conversation, he said.

As for his own future, don’t expect to see him on television 10 years from now, said Wood. His goal is to produce TV programming. “Most new black thought is on TV,” he said. “There’s more opportunity behind the camera.”