Jesse Limpscombe is an Edmonton born and raised Celebrity. He is an inspirational and internationally known entrepreneur, actor, producer, athlete, musician and father of three. In 2016, Jesse fell victim to and caught on tape an incident involving racism. Which he then, with the help of his wife Julia and the mayor of Edmonton set in motion as an idea for a fast spreading, constructive and widely supported anti-discriminatory Campaign called “Make it Awkward”. A new way for people to confront issues such as but not limited to: racism, sexism, religion, disability or minority based slander, bigotry and harassment. The public has since responded with massive support. The team are making their rounds to schools, job sites, even the political scene to help educate. Jesse has acted & produced in film and television with some of Hollywood’s greatest. He owns many businesses & keeps busy with his family and his many loved art forms . You can definitely count on his creative energy and mind to come up with new ideas and projects in the near future. Little did we know Jesse even sang on the soundtrack to VH1’s “The Man in the Mirror” a Michael Jackson story. TuffUrban had the opportunity to sit down with Jesse and discuss his exciting lifestyle & learn all about his Campaign “Make it Awkward”. Guaranteed, this is an interview you won’t want to miss. Enjoy!
Name, Age, Occupation, Campaign, Art form?
Jesse: My name is Jesse Lipscombe, I am 36 years old. Occupation, more complicated, I call myself the “professional passion follower”. A number of different occupations that include entrepreneurship. I own a number of businesses, fitness, entertainment, a restaurant, I am a motivational speaker and author, a musician and a father. The “Make it Awkward” campaign is the campaign that you are speaking about and that is the one that started in September of 2016.
Where are you from?
Jesse: I am from Edmonton Alberta, born and raised. I lived in Atlanta for most of my adult life, but when people ask “where are you from?” I say Canada, when people say “where are you from from?” I repeat Canada. I am 4 generations Canadian. My father’s side came from the underground railroad through Oklahoma, and settled in Amber Valley, which is a black settler’s town that doesn’t exist anymore in the North, and that’s how we ended up here in North America.
What’s your favorite thing about being an Albertan?
Jesse: I think my favorite thing about being an Albertan is changing people’s ideas of what an Albertan is. Like I had mentioned before, “where are you from”? or “where are you really from”? often happens. Which to me it means we’re doing Alberta right. Alberta is more than oil, Alberta is more than just ‘blue collar’, it’s an important industry obviously, so is the oil and coal industry, but there’s more to us here. My favorite part is the surprise in people’s faces when they find out where I am from.
What’s your favorite thing about being a Canadian?
Jesse: Being a Canadian is kind of like hitting the jackpot, I mean we have a wonderful city, wonderful country, it’s gorgeous, it’s not overpopulated, we’re sitting okay, we’re able to chase and follow our dreams. We have dedication to work hard, there’s no one really standing in your way to do whatever we want to do. It’s relatively multi-cultural, open minded, every country has it’s ups and downs & negatives and positives but if you were to weigh them all out I really think we live in one of the best countries on the planet.
You had an incident happen to you this past year which motivated you to start your Anti-Racism campaign, “Make it Awkward”. What happened and how did you handle it?
Jesse: It started off with a racial incident, as I said I’m an actor so I was filming a public service announcement for Edmonton Alberta, talking about how wonderful our downtown core is. A car of middle aged men pulled up and rolled the window down and started screaming some racial slurs my way. Definitely a jarring thing to hear especially when you’re working, mid-work. I walked over to the car, opened the door, got down on one knee and confronted the gentleman, asked him why he said it and what did he say. He denied it..sped off and said it again. After that I decided with my wife, that I’m going to post this video and just have an internal conversation in my own social media world. That internal conversation went viral, and ended up being seen over a million times. It sparked a lot of conversation about racism, about people’s shock and awe with racism. About how I dealt with it in that specific scenario and you know giving and challenging people to having a different response to discriminatory behavior. The “Make it Awkward” campaign itself launched the day after when mayor Don Iveson called and said we should chat and talk about figuring something out, my wife Julia and I went to the office and the birth of “Make it Awkward” would have been that day. The one thing that’s important too is that “Make it Awkward” is often shrouded in it being an anti-racism campaign and truly is an anti-discriminatory campaign. It’s talking about homophobia, sexism, whether it’s a discriminatory behavior for religion or whatever the case is, racism is just one ark of it. The fact that it’s an Umbrella, it’s become universal in a sense that everybody can get on the positivity train versus it being segregated. It’s what we did.
Tell us more about “Make it Awkward” what type of things/events are you doing with this campaign and how can people help support this cause?
Jesse: Initially it started off with a hash tag and some positive energy, that was over the weekend. That hash tag ended up becoming a part of the Canadian vernacular all the way to the point where CBC actually just recently did a story on us for “The Market Place” where they were talking about in the past year, racists and derogatory terms have increased by 600%. They’re trying to figure out what the cause of that is, is it because of the Trump Campaign? is it because people are just generally more free and being racist, sexist and hateful. On the other side of that, love messages and messages of positivity have also increased. One of the things that was needed was “Make it Awkward” and actually my name was one of the top four trending things across the country for love and positivity, which is really nice. So that being said it started off as a conversation and has blossomed organically into a different response. A response where silence is no longer an option, silence is no longer the way to move anything forward. The idea that we take care of our own people and our own citizens and our own friends and if somebody’s in danger you stick up for them and be there for them and you’re kind of responsible for your own circle, your own meter and radius of love. If even in your own family people are saying things they shouldn’t say, you step up and say something about it. It’s just taking the option of doing nothing and throwing that in the garbage. We speak at schools, three or four times a week, at hospitals, nightclubs, we do workshops often, tips and tools for “Making it Awkward” in the workplace. We do a lot of meetings with politicians and different community leaders as well in order to see how we can use our platform to help with what other people have already been doing. The whole idea of “Make it Awkward” is not to come in and pretend we’re reinventing the wheel, but that we have a wheel that seems to resonate with a large group of individuals and we want to be able to use that vehicle to help with other messages. Whether thats in the LGTB community, The Muslim community, The Sikh community, the African-American community, across the board we have something that people are listening to and we want to be able to use that for good.
How has the public been responding to the campaign so far?
Jesse: The public is overwhelmingly in support of it, but with that comes other sides of it too. The one thing that I’ve noticed, with positivity and love, a lot of people question sincerity. I don’t know if it’s the human condition, the belief that people really just wanting to help, means that they have ulterior motives. That seems to float around. The vast majority of people all ages have been behind it, all sexes have been behind it, all races have been behind it which is really nice. So for sure the support outweighs any of the negativity. 100 hundred people can say “hey I like your outfit you look great” and one person doesn’t and that’s all you think about. This is something it’s not like we get paid to do it. We make money when we speak from time to time or when we sell merch to be able to afford to fly to Toronto and do other things like that, but at the end of the day it’s a campaign for the people by the people, and we’re just kinda driving it.
As a Hip Hop label our artists face many racism issues head on frequently. Do you have any suggestions on how to tackle these issues in the music industry?
Jesse: The music industry in my opinion is a touch hypocritical in regards to racism and sexism. Because you know you take Hip Hop Culture, you can take country music culture. The misogyny that exists in it and the double standard racism in regards to a racial slurs that have become terms of endearment. The confusion in junior high schools of what to say and when they can say it, there’s a lot of work that can be done I think for sure within the music industry to help squash some of the negativity that surrounds both of those things. I think that is kind of a piece of the responsibility. I think also in the music industry, the idea of making music so people will buy it, unfortunately sometimes that means making music thats not quite resonating with who you are. It’s so confusing sometimes because you know gangsgter hip-hop sells well and has for along time, but I mean consious hip hop sold well before that. You have to kind of make your decision of who you are and what legacy you’re actually leaving. I think it’s important to think about that. It takes a certain amount of courage to make some dope ass positive consious hip hop in a sea of people succeeding with the anti-thesis of that you know.
What’s your least favorite thing about humanity?
Jesse: My least favorite thing about humanity would be humanity’s lack of faith in their ability to do anything. The human potential is amazing and how powerful every human being is. I think somehow, somewhere along the lines we’ve convinced ourselves that we can only do & achieve so much. The rest of it is for a different type of person, a different kind of person when in reality we can all do such amazing things. I think we’re only scratching the surface of what we’re here to do and what we’re capable of.
You’re a father, actor, athlete & entrepreneur. Can you tell us more about your other careers, how do you handle your busy schedule and family with so many projects on the go?
Jesse: The nice thing too, it sounds like I do a ton of stuff. I could have a nine to five job and then try to do those things, I could have a job so I can just pay the bills, and then with my free time do the things I’m passionate about. Instead I tried to do the opposite of that and make a career of my passions. My days are really organized, When I’m working at the fitness studio, when I’m working on flow-power which is another fitness company. When I’m working on producing a film, or making music, these are contracts and projects that aren’t 9-5 throughout the days, so I carve space out for things I’m really excited about. I’ve gotten better at creating the space for things that make sense for my life, financially as well as things I thoroughly like doing. You know it seems like there’s a ton out there, it’s mostly business, used to be sport not as much anymore, and entertainment which is 90% Film and Television, 10% music.
Where are your favorite places to eat in Edmonton?
Jesse: I gotta say “Sabor”, but if I were to jump on board you know “Tres Carneles”, another beaut. You know really my little guilty pleasure is “All Happy Family”. A little bit of everything.
Who are some of your role models?
Jesse: It was a difficult question before to find a person who is a role model because I often find pieces of many individuals. I kind of treat life like that… I love stealing from the greatest and making it my own, the things they do. Barack Obama has just destroyed 8 years in one of the hardest positions ever and did it with such class and he’s so cool! he just made classy super cool which was really neat and he juggled. Richard Branson’s another one, with the amount of businesses this man owns and how introverted he is, and how shy he is as a speaker yet he always challenges himself to do something new. Blake probably another one he is the owner of Tom’s shoes, his idea of having a private for profit company that’s focused on the good of humanity. These are all different individuals, the one I’ve never actually had any real one on one contact with was Barack, but that’s today. We’ll see what happens in a couple of weeks, who knows.
If you were given a million dollars in order to launch your next best entrepreneureal idea, what would it be?
Jesse: As a serial entrepreneur I try to launch those all of the time. Also as a serial entrepreneur I know that I would not publicly let you know what my next million dollar idea is without a mutually non-disclosure agreement that everyone who reads this would have to sign. But none the less that being said of course I’ve got a couple in the wing. Some of them need funding, some of them need time but none of them have any barriers it’s just a matter of when you push go.
What was it like working on an Emmy nominated televsion show or on a movie set?
Jesse: It was great. The first movie I ever did it was a TV movie called “Children of the Dust” with Sidney Portier, the first African American Oscar winning actor. I played his son, in that show. It was really a great intro into the film industry & television industry for sure. Luckily I’ve gotten to work with a lot of Hollywood greats and watch how they work on set and like I said I’ve been stealing from them and trying to make it into the best that I can be. It’s like athletics, it’s like music you have to practice and train, you have to love it in order to do it, even during the hard times, because that’s what makes you better in the times that count.
If you were a cartoon character who would you be?
Jesse: If I were a cartoon character I would be Tigger, but I would change my name to “Tigro” because Tigger’s a little too close if you know what I mean.
If you could give anyone, a young child or an adult dealing with racism personally for the first time, a word of advice what would it be?
Jesse: The word of advice would be that you’re not alone and often times when you become a victim you become a little recluse and you feel like you’re by yourself and you don’t want to talk about it, you might not want to sound weak or you might not want to ruffle feathers depending on what your social status looks like. As a youngster or even in the workplace. To have the confidence that you’re not by yourself and the vast majority of people will support you when you need help, if you ask for it you will probably get it.
What’s the most challenging thing about being in the public eye and being someone that people look up to?
Jesse: I was just talking about this today with a friend, about the most challenging thing. It’s like this, public perception vs. personal reality. I find the more that I am acting as my true self and being really free and comfortable even though it’s in the public eye, the more people doubt and question the sincerity & genuine nature of what I am doing, and always wondering if there are ulterior motives for what it is. So it’s you know, it’s tough to ignore things when you hear them. People feel ways for a reason sometime. How people feel about me is none of my business, is a quote I’ve heard. But I also kind of enjoy feedback from the planet I live on. It’s a difficult thing to take critical and positive feedback but also not let negative feedback bother you. I think I do a good job of not letting it bother me, but I’m definitely not blind to it. I see how it affects my family as well, because they’re like “that’s crazy, they don’t know you, why would people wanna make up lies about you!?”. That part I don’t like, because it bothers them more than me. I’ve somehow calloused myself to it because it’s been a part of me since I was a young, like elementary school. That’s kind of been the case, if I could pick one word that might encompass me it would be misunderstood. Also you can’t spend your life trying to convince everybody. It’s a small group of individuals that know me & that I spend my time with and people who inspire me whom I can grow from.
What’s your favorite song right now? Favorite song of all time?
Jesse: Right now I’m jammin’ a lot to “The Weekend’s new track”. I don’t recall the name if it right now, but it’s got a very Michael Jackson feel. It has such a nice clean sound. Anything by Gregory Porter, to the point where I’ve named my newest child’s middle name Porter after him. He’s a jazz singer. I’m just diggin’ Chance he’s on a level that I can listen to all day long, Chance the Rapper. All time favorite song Donny Hathaway a “A Song for you”.
Who are some of your favorite musical artsists?
Jesse: Gregory Porter, Amus Lee, Chance the Rapper, Luther Vandross, Lauren Hill, Outkast, Chris Cornell, Beyonce, she’s a beast…and you know who else…Taylor Swift that girl is a genius and a great songwriter.
If there were a movie written about your life what would it be called and who would act in it?
Jesse: If there was a movie written about my life, hopefully at whatever stage it’s at, I’ll be playing me at that stage. Then I guess I would have to find some younger version of me, a younger black actor. What would it be called?…more of a bio pic? So it’s a story about reality without a ton of fiction. I would take a quote from Mike Dooley’s book. I’d want my movie to be called. “Thoughts become Things”. That would be a good title for my movie, because it’s literally the power of envisioning what you want and making it occur as just up to you and all you have to do is just move and then take the next step and the next step. That would be the movie “Thoughts Become Things”. I want Denzel to play me old though, or maybe Morgan Freeman, he just takes his time to say everything.
Do you have any other talents we don’t know about?
Jesse: Well shoot I don’t know what you know! My secret talent is I will not ever let fear get in the way of me trying something, that is it. So if I’m not talented enough at something right now and I like it, I will learn it, I will master it, I will love it and I will share it.
If you were stranded on a deserted Island and you could only bring 3 things with you what would you bring?
Jesse: If I could only bring three things with me and my goal was actually survival, I would bring a pot, a flint & a machete. Now if this was just for leisure and enjoyment I would definitely bring a solar charger so I could charge my media device, ideally my phone, which is now connected to the internet, which is now connected to all the TV shows I want to watch. For my last thing, It’s a thing so I’d bring a boat filled with my family. I can’t pick just one of them.
You mentioned you’re a musician aswell, are you interested in collaborating with anyone in the future or have you collaborated with anyone recently?
Jesse: Musically it’s kind of funny. It’s a neat story I ‘ve always loved musicals. When I was living in Atlanta Georgia I sort of got asked to do, not by the production but by a friend. They asked “Hey do you want to go to the Lion King audition”? I went to it, I bombed it. It was the worst audition I’ve ever done ever. After that I vowed never sing in public again. Then I fast forwarded to Canadian idol, I ended up going to it. I figured I’m gonna slay the line and I’m gonna try it. I make it, I get the golden ticket, I keep going and I think I got to like top 20 or 30. So then I was like “hey this music thing could be a thing”. So I got a group together, an old school group called “J & S”, and we ended up doing the soundtrack for the VH1 movie “Man in Mirror” one of the first Michael Jackson stories. That was when I was doing hip-hop, so I was rapping a lot then, then I moved into a Funk Jazz band called the “Retro Fits” then another band, an all original band called “Cornbread” which I write for me and Audrey’s band she’s a Trombone player, there’s big horns and lots of sound. Collabs, yeah I’d love to I mean if I were to pick somebody I wanted to collab with in Edmonton I would pick guaranteed two people. “K-Riz” & “Oozee La”. They’re two of my faves. “Politic Live” we’ve kind of collabed already I’ve had their music in some of my movies. “Cadence Weapon” is my cousin although we’ve never collabed, but I imagine that opportunity, if it ever existed could. I love music, I love writing music, I love making music, my brother’s a really great producer and I’m open to it at all times.
If you had yacht what would you name it?
Jesse: I’d name it Juicy.
Batman or Superman?
Jesse: For sure Superman, Batman has no superpowers. Superman can fly and do things. Batman has dedication, but he’s grounded he doesn’t believe he can fly, he’s just too dark for me he’s too Gotham. He doesn’t smile enough, he doesn’t hug, he’s not hugged enough he doesn’t love enough. Superman he’s just nice and yeah… he’s Superman.
Where can fans gain access to your work?
Jesse: Google is the best body of information…instead of having to go everywhere, but you know following me on any of the platforms is solid too. Twitter and Instagram both of them are @TheLipscombe. Facebook fanpage is awesome too, I update all that stuff pretty often. Google is probably better than anything. I should probably get a personal web page up again but it’s so convoluted I don’t even know what to do with it. Social media and Google are great.
Any shout outs you want to give?
Jesse: I want to give a shout out to my wife Julia, a shout out to my three boys, Indiana, Chile, and Trip. I want to give a shout out to Tuma, that’s Shannon that’s the boy’s mom. The word ex-wife doesn’t work anymore. We’re a big family. A shout out to my entire family but specifically of course Curtis and Deanne my oldest siblings who I love and look up to and they inspire me on a daily basis… which they don’t know about. My wonderful parents who are just phenomenal individuals, I’m so happy they had sex at least three times. Also thanks for this interview it’s cool to know about certain things that are going on in the city.