The world may know actor Terry Crews as the guy who appears in movies and shows doing quirky dance moves and delivering gut-busting lines, and almost always rocking a smile on his face.
But, Crews says that was not always the case, especially not while growing up in a home with an abusive parent.
“Growing up was not a good experience. My father was very abusive. He used to beat my mother,” reveals Crews on National Geographic’s “Running Wild with Bear Grylls.”
Living with the concern of not knowing when his father would strike again led a young Crews to adopt the mindset of “If you stay ready you won’t have to get ready.”
The former NFL linebacker says as early as the age of 5 he feared he would have to protect his mother during one of his father’s fits of rage.
“So it was one of those things where I knew I had to get stronger because one day I thought I’d have to fight him,” he says. That mindset manifested itself in Crews focusing on sports and building the rock-solid physique he has sported for more than two decades.
“That’s how it started out. I always, always had been like, ‘Be fit, be ready, be prepared, be there.’”
Many years later the “America’s Got Talent” host would be unprepared for when he stepped into a world of controversy in January 2020 after being accused of attempting to discredit former “AGT” judge Gabrielle Union’s claims of racial discrimination on the show.
The previous November an unnamed source, ostensibly speaking on behalf of Union, claimed in a Variety article that Union found the “AGT” set environment toxic and a place where racism and sexism were tolerated. When Crews made a Jan. 23, 2020, appearance on “The 3rd Hour of Today” and was asked about whether he agreed with the accusations leveled against “AGT,” he demurred in co-signing her claims.
“First of all, I can’t speak for sexism because I’m not a woman, but I can speak on behalf of any racism comments. That was never my experience … In fact, it was the most diverse place I have ever been in my 20 years of entertainment,” he said.
“When you look at what the allegations were about, it was given by an unnamed source,” he added. “My thing is, it’s funny because I believe you should listen to women, you should always believe women, so I asked my wife what I should do.”
“She was like, ‘First of all, if it’s coming from an unnamed source, because Gabrielle Union has not made any statement to this day about any of these allegations publicly. … If she hasn’t made a statement, why would you?’” Crews explained.
He faced a fury of outrage across social media before issuing Union an apology in a now-deleted tweet on January 29, 2020.
“I want you to know it was never my intention to invalidate your experience — but that is what I did. I apologize. You have been through a lot in this business, and with that I empathize with the struggle toward fairness and equality in the workplace.”