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A Latino Hero
The so claimed Mexican American, Puerto Rican, Russian, French, Catholic Jew Ernie G Gritzewsky, has turn into quite a hero in the Latin community. At the beginning of his career Ernie G’s main goal was to make it in the comedy industry and he was getting there quickly. Appearing in television shows and working amongst comedians such as George Lopez and GabrieIglesiaas Ernie G had it going on , but as time progressed he realized that there was something else he should be doing. Today Ernie G travels around the country encouraging the country's fastest-growing group of high school students to stay in school and go to college. His powerful speeches have worked and have created a powerful impact on not just Hispanic students but on every minority feeling discouraged.
Stephanie: Ernie, what was your childhood like?
Ernie: I was raised by a single mother in a poor neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA called Highland Park. There was a lot of poverty where I grew up, as well a pretty bad gang problem and I was always having to deal with the pressures of being poor, pressure from the streets and of course a VERY over-protective Mother! But, given how difficult things could have been for us, I still had a VERY HAPPY and very active childhood (My mom always made sure I was involved with sports in school & at the park, swimming lessons, boy scouts, little league, boy clubs, etc, etc.) So I had a VERY Happy childhood, despite how tough we had it!
Stephanie: What kind of obstacles did you have to face to get to where you are now?
Ernie: Being a Stand Up Comedian is a very competitive and the entertainment industry is VERY cut-throat, so the biggest obstacles I had to overcome to get to where I am were dealing with all of the people (other comedians, producers, promoters, etc.) who DON'T WANT YOU to succeed!! People will intentionally back-stab you and hurt you for any reason they can think of if they think it will help KEEP YOU from being a success, and consequently, make it possible for THEM to succeed!? Fortunately, I have surrounded myself with some good people, stayed away from the bad people and have carved out an amazing nitch for myself in this comedy world, which I call "Empowerment Comedy."
Stephanie: What are you currently doing right now?
Ernie: "Transforming the World, One Laugh at a Time!" What I mean by that is that I am the National Spokesperson for the Hispanic College Fund and in that capacity, I travel all over the country performing my "Empowerment Comedy" to Inspire students, both High School & College students, to achieve academic success and fulfill their dreams!!
Stephanie: What kind of careers did you stumble into before deciding what you wanted to do?
Ernie: I was a waiter in a restaurant for many years at many different restaurants, a Youth Director at a YMCA, a pre-school teacher, and a Balloon Artist at kid's parties for many years before becoming a stand-up comedian!!
Stephanie: You know you have become the role model for many of the youth you have touched ,including me, but who is your role model? and why?
Ernie:My first biggest Role Model was my Big Brother Johnny Jee! I met Johnny when I was about 6-7 years old and he was a fire-fighter. He not only taught me how to be a great athlete and the right way to play sports, he taught me how to say "Please" and "Thank You" and how to be a good man and to be honorable. He wasn't related to me by blood, I met him through the Big Brothers of America program, but if it were not for him, I wouldn't be half the man that I am today!
Currently, one of my biggest Professional Role Models is Chris Rock! I think he's Hilarious, he makes people Think AND makes them Laugh, and he is also an amazing Humanitarian, which most people DO NOT know about him! I want my career to be like his!
Stephanie: Ernie, and what is the cause you stand for ?
Ernie: The Hispanic College Fund - Developing Professionals, One Degree at a Time! I LOVE what HCF stands for - supporting our Latino Youth to get themselves into college and develop careers that Transform what is possible for Latinos!! I also whole-heartedly support the Dream Act and have a scholarship fund for DREAM Students, so I am passionate about supporting ANY student who wants to succeed and be a rock star in Life!
Stephanie: Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?
Ernie: Where I WILL BE is Owning & Operating my own Empowerment Empire, where we create, produce, promote & support Culturally aware & relevant Empowerment Products, (ie: Life Coaching Speaking Engagements, CDs, DVDs, online webinars, TV shows & Films) Internationally, where my message and our products make a profound difference in the world, especially for Latinos!!
Stephanie: What would you tell any student trying to get through school?
Ernie: "If it is to Be, it is Up to Me!" If YOU want it, then YOU need to be the one who makes it happen! People are there to support you, teachers can help, counselors can help, even mentors & coaches can help, but Ultimately, if you are EVER going to get ANYWHERE in the Life, is completely and totally UP TO YOU!! YOU can and WILL do it, when you set your mind to it and commit to it! You just need to Believe in yourself, not let fear, doubt or worry stop you and BE the person God meant for you to Be!!
Stephanie: What a life going around the country and making people laugh and feel inspired. As a comedian I know this is hard but what is your favorite joke?
Ernie: How do you make a Kleenex dance? You put a little "boogey" in it!? Hee hee Corny, I know...but you still laughed, right?
Stephanie: Thank You Ernie for the opportunity !
Ernie: Steph, I just want to say THANK YOU for the opportunity to contribute to you and Make a Difference for you Mija! You telling me that I am one of the people you look up to the most MEANS the WORLD to me! When I hear things like that, I wake up in the morning KNOWING 100% that God put me on the planet to DO exactly What I Do! Thank You for reminding me that my Life Makes a Difference Mija! Please KEEP BEING YOU and KEEP Letting Your Light SHINE!
Ernie G’s message:
"No matter how much education you get and how much success you achieve, if you grew up in the barrio, if you grew up in the “hood:, you will always have a little ghetto in you." The message is not meant to discourage. It's meant to show that college and ghetto can coexist.