Q&A: Nick Cannon in the talk show, overcoming setbacks last year

LOS ANGELES-When Nick Cannon faced harsh criticism for his anti-Semitic remarks last year, he initially thought of stepping away from his lucrative television host and producer career forever.

The cannon fell into a deep depression that felt as if he was “standing in quicksand” after seeing people he called friends make fun of him on social media. He met with a prominent rabbi, issued an apology to the Jewish community for his anti-Semitic theories, which were expressed in his podcast, but ViacomCBS already had its relationship with the host and producer of the longtime “Wild ‘n Out” show on VH1 aborted, the company cable channel.

Fox maintained his relationship with Cannon as host of “The Masked Singer”, but he felt like leaving his lucrative career would be less stressful. He kept going until he learned about the death of his friend-rapper Ryan Bowers, who committed suicide last year after struggling with his own mental health.

Eventually, Cannon realized that he could use his platform to help people overcome enemies. Now he is looking to set up with his nationally syndicated daily show “Nick Cannon”, which premieres on September 27 on Fox Television stations. His show will feature guest appearances by Kevin Hart, Simon Cowell, Nicole Scherzinger and Kandi Burruss.

In a recent interview, Cannon spoke to the Associated Press about his new talk show, growing after his controversial remarks and his advice to DaBaby, who faced off against his homophobic comments at a music festival earlier this year.

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AP: Your daily talk show will be filmed in Harlem. What forced you to choose that place?

CANNON: This is where it all started. This is the oasis. This is the Mecca of the maintenance of Black culture. I have always been a fan of the Harlem Renaissance. I was the one who was fascinated that so many were flocking here to Harlem. It expands to the rest of the world where people borrow pieces here and there. Everything from jazz to literature to spoken to theater. Apollo is right across the street. The Cotton Club. When you think about history and do your homework how important Harlem is to our culture, I see no other better place than Harlem.

AP: Will your talk show only have celebrity guests?

CANNON: I roll up my sleeves and go out into these communities and jump in. I’m not just telling stories, but trying to be a part of the story. We try to generate stories. Become a curator in that sense. I want to provide information and introduce individuals about whom you may not have known. … I’m moving around. The home front and central intelligence is Harlem. But this is a talk show that comes to mind. I’m everywhere.

AP: How much have you grown since your controversial anti-Semitic remarks?

CANNON: I took time last year to come back and listen. I have listened so much, and I have now grown in every way. I was always someone who is kind of introverted. But even now, I think about and meditate and pray before I speak. Previously, I tried to be the first with the answer. I wanted to show people that I was intelligent. I even wanted to prove to my own kids that I have an education and I read two books a week and I do essays. All of this stuff is great. But if you allow your ego to “show how smart I am”, it can definitely go the wrong way.

AP: What did you learn most from your comments?

CANNON: There is so much division. I always say, “To define me is to limit you. To mark me is to turn me off. In that sense, we can learn so much from each other. We must stop trying to put ourselves in a box. That’s what I do. I’ve said it so much in the last year, but we have a lot more similarities than we have differences. It’s all about focusing on our probability and the fact that we can never be without the other.

AP: What did you learn from the Jewish community that you will integrate into your show?

CANNON: You see through this show that we’re launching some initiatives that really focus on where wrongdoing and hatred and things we may not know were trigger words for different communities. Things we may not know that are offensive to some groups.

AP: Do you feel like you have to censor yourself now?

CANNON: I’m probably coming back in trouble to say something. I would be worried if my heart was not in the right place. That’s the beauty of people who see me every day. I was kidding on my set. I mean I’m just going to give an apology where the applause goes, because of my humor, my jokes. I like to have open and honest conversations but also someone who likes to play devil lawyer, always looking the other way. I’m just that person.

AP: What advice would you give to DaBaby?

CANNON: My advice would be to just listen. Do not be so quick to talk sometimes. If you offend someone, apologize honestly. You do not have to justify. I tried not to offend. We never try to offend.

AP: How did your friend Ryan’s death lead you?

CANNON: I stopped regretting myself. I can use this scenario to help people like my friend Ryan. It moved it for me and gave me a different perspective. It is not a media game to play if you are dealing with things like depression and emotions. I took the time to come back and take a moment to learn, find lessons and talk to people. I’m deep. I shared. I was vulnerable. Healing then began. Then it became a mission. It went to “OK, I show people how resilient I am.”

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