Is There Too Much Ham in Urban Fiction or Hollywood?
In today’s world, there seems to be something lacking among the forces of Hollywood which command the theatres across the nation. It seems like every time I turn on the television or go inside a theatre all I see is many untalented individuals hamming it up on the scene.
Yet, I rarely see any relatable content told from my neck of the inner city, West Philadelphia. It wasn’t until I caught wind of some very talented individuals from around my neighborhood who were in the midst of shooting their own untold stories that I decided to dive into the matter. They were Sky Dennis and a few others. They were shooting a mini web series and I have the complete scoop firsthand.
iUrban.org: Let’s get started with your background, what is your name on the street and where are you from?
Clarence Wylie: My name on the street is and always will be my government name, Clarance Wylie but my acronym is Pork, and my Muslim attribute is Abdul Wali. Various individuals know me by all three depending on our relationships. I was born and raised in West Chester, Pennsylvania. I came up in a poverty stricken household in the suburbia. And as the middle child thrown in a fatherless latchkey situation, I experienced childhood bullying early on and as a child, I was forced to deal with the horrors of many forms of abuse. Physical and mental.
Was there anybody that you looked up to and tried to emulate in your household or outside of it? What I mean is, some people take in a movie and it can be influential. I mean what role models were you exposed to? As for me, I had positive role models to look up to, but as a child, I viewed those who wore the gangsters or thug crowns as the true kings and ones who gained the most respect.
In judging from that it didn’t take long to figure out what role in life I personally wanted to assume. I saw my grandfather literally work himself to death, and in my opinion, he never really enjoyed the full fruits of his labor. It made me think, what a waste!!! His legacy died with him. On the other hand , I watched my uncles count out thousands of dollar’s living totally for the moment and life was great, but what they never made clear was the reality of the torment that prison life brings.
It’s like being a spoiled brat all of your life. Rich beyond belief, then take it all away and change your skin tone. Imagine that? What I learned long ago is that the hardest battle ever fought was not fought on a battlefield, it was and still is fought deep within oneself (Real talk). Also, I try to exercise good, sound judgment.
What was your hustle that made you end up in prison? How long did you do and where?
I first started buying $5 bags of Reggie; which is regular weed. Nicks (5 dollar bags), I would break them down and twist up 10 joints doubling my money. Later came the coke, and then crack. I was about 14 or 15 when I sold my first joint, and I had an armed standoff with the police at the age of 16. After seeing, handling and then seeing what guns could do. I fell in love with the false sense of power that guns rep. I had overcome the bullying and convinced myself that I was invincible. I was ignorant. Me being so blind I allowed myself to become a victim of my very own ignorance. How could I fear that which I didn’t believe in? I had no knowledge of God or Hell. I had no knowledge of self. I was totally blind, yet thirsty for life. In 1996 after being released from SCI Greene Super Max State Prison, in Waynesburg, PA, I was pulled over on the New Jersey Turn Pike with a half a brick of crack cocaine; which is 18 ounces of hard. I was in route on Exit 9, Cranberry Township which is notoriously dubbed cocaine alley because it was the route most traveled for our destination heading south. I was later sent to the Middlesex County Jail. It was the same prison that once held Black Panther Assata Shakur, the alleged killer of a New Jersey state trooper. At SCI Greene County, I was locked up with accused Philadelphia cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal. All in all, I did 30 years inside, and 9 of them were straight time, and the rest were on the installment plan. Get it now, pay later type of plan, except I wasn’t paying with money. I paid with my life.
Looking at it all, what was your turning point in life towards the better?
When I went to jail, I needed something to keep me preoccupied. So, I first got my body right, then I concentrated on educating my mind. I needed a different avenue other than the thoughtless option of the streets. Once I knew I had a brain and learned exactly how to use it, I finally realized that I was chasing a shattered dream that in all reality would never come true. I had to literally reinvent myself by losing the gritty, hardcore thug persona and becoming the intelligent strong black man I was destined to be which brings me back to me; realizing my focus and true identity. First. you must set your pride aside , admit that you have a problem and then overcome the deep-rooted problems of self. For the most part we are the sole creators of our problems when we make unconsciousness decisions without bothering to consider the circumstances that can follow a bad decision.
So with the change when did you actually see the transformation?
My transformation came way back in 1988 and here it is 2014 and it’s just finally coming into fruition. All praises due to Allah…
Since your release and being back on the bricks (The outside world.) what can you tell us about what has been happening with you?
Every day still is a struggle. What’s important is not the amount of times you get knocked down , but the amount of times you get up. I’ve been made a lot of empty promises from good stand-up dudes with all the right connections, but at the end of the day, them cat’s were full of sh**. I always say, “Real recognizes real” my dude! The time that I spent on the bricks wasn’t all wasted, nor negative. I worked with at-risk teens teaching them the spoken word. I also taught and worked with the homeless and individuals with special needs. I strive to give back, proving that I am and can be a productive part of society.
That’s all good, but I happen to know that you’ve been dabbling in film, a few videos and a mini web series, so break bread and share what you are doing.
Yeah, well you know it’s a start. Timarosadiq and Skye Dennis grew up on my block in the DUB (West Chester). We all appreciate each other’s individual talents and decided to bridge them all together in order to create a masterpiece. There’re many others responsible as well. It’s an overall the clandestine vision that made this a living reality. I wrote 7 manuscripts in which I planned to put in book form but then the powers that be seen the bigger picture and caused me to lean towards turning them all into movies. I went to Timairo and asked him to do a song for me and the rest is history. We shot a video, then came the web series, then a movie.
What’s the name of the video?
We got a couple of them, but the one I like the most is “Hustle Man’s Hustle” and all I’m gonna say is check it out. Others I like Catch Em by PR [An Unsigned Artist], Willie Lynch, and The Huxtables (Soon to be released) which I directed and starred in. We shot it at Lincoln University in Oxford, PA which happens to be one of the oldest historically African-American institutions of higher learning in the nation.
You also mention a mini web series can you expound on that?
I’m not going say much about it , but I will say this if you liked The Wire then you’re going to love this. The Underground Kings is a cross between “The Wire” and “New York Undercover.” I believe that by me living that life and growing up so close to the edge, the onscreen character is me front and center point-blank period!
A’ight, well we’re going to wrap it up, is there anything else you would like to tell us such as, have you seen any Martians selling crack cocaine lately or any old pimps over 70 still trying to help Viagra stay in business?
I believe the three monkey theory which is hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. LOL! I have a clothing line about to drop called GMG (Get Money Gear). I have my books (One is Hell On Earth…), 3 future movies (Myra’s Angel; a drug epic, Hamilton; a short, and more) and more music video’s. (Allah willing) I’ve had my bouts with addiction but most of all I had to learn how to deal with my personal demons and accept what existed within myself. I had to understand my circumstances before knowing how to best treat them. It’s a sickness, yet day by day I thirst for wellness Inshallah !!!
Any final words?
The best rewards rest within one’s achievement, and as Abraham Lincoln once said. “Nearly all men can stand adversity but if you are going to test a man’s true character give him power. Thanks for having me on your site.