There are a few notable figures in Black Hollywood who we all attribute to the “No Sleep” gang—Beyoncé, Issa Rae, Ava DuVernay, Tiffany Haddish...just to name a few. These folks are always in the news announcing a huge project, leaving the rest of us to wonder—when the hell do they ever get any sleep?
One of the kings of that lifestyle is none other than Kevin Hart. In fact, when it was announced in 2018 that he would be the 2019 Academy Awards host, I legit titled my blog, “Kevin Hart to Host 2019 Oscars Because He Really Does Have Every Single Job Ever.”
Of course, as you know by now, he eventually stepped down from that gig due to his offensive remarks and the manner in which he decided to address it (both of which garnered several critiques that have been well-documented here at The Root). In addition to that, news broke out in Sept. 2019 that he had been involved in a serious car crash, suffering multiple spinal injuries.
Since recovering from that crash, Hart has spoken out and said the scary incident was a basically a spiritual wake-up call, noting in October 2019, “I honestly feel like God told me to sit down.”
One would think that any of those instances would slow Hart’s momentum, but it really hasn’t (he has a damn Netflix comedy special right now, for goodness sakes!). In addition to proving “cancel culture” really doesn’t exist (or at the very least, is not the big scary threat it’s made out to be, and is instead making space for necessary accountability), Hart’s hyper work ethic is unshakeable...no matter what. But, is it really as simple as work ethic?
Hart sat down with late night talk show host Conan O’Brien for an episode of O’Brien’s podcast series produced by Team Coco along with Earwolf, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend (which is a hilarious title). In an exclusive audio clip from the upcoming episode provided to The Root, Hart talked about the very thing that drives him to do it all. It’s fear.
“This conversation of systemic racism [...] there’s been murmurs and conversations but the focus hasn’t been as loud as it has this year,” Hart told O’Brien. “It hit me now that the reason why I’m always trying and always looking for more—trying to create more, is...it was a fear of it being taken away. Somebody is going to come and take this away! It’s impossible for this to last forever! It’s a fear that I’m not supposed to be here and that I’m lucky and fortunate to be here.”
Hart went on to touch on the pressures that come with leaning into what we have dubbed as “Black excellence.” We all know what that is; we’ve all gotten some form of the “be twice as good” lecture from a parent, guardian or mentor.
“When you look at it, it’s only a certain amount of people of color who get these opportunities, so when you get these opportunities as Black people, we’re holding on for dear life because outside of the opportunity...is what? So, I’m trying to get as much off of the plate and had been trying to get as much off of the plate to either create other opportunities or plant a flag of stability that can’t be moved so that you’re no longer in a space of mental fear of ‘Damn, it’s over.’”
The Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend podcast episode with Kevin Hart debuts Sunday, Nov. 22 at 9 p.m. PT / midnight ET and you can tune in wherever you listen to your podcasts.