Interviews Photography courtesy of Marc-Anthony Lewis

Published on October 19th, 2018 | by Jerry Doby

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Six Questions With Television Host/Correspondent Yonathan Elias

Yonathan Elias

Yonathan Elias (Photography courtesy of Nathan Cluss and styled by Derek Mckay)

What brought you to the entertainment industry and how did you find yourself in front of the camera as a popular host/correspondent?!

I remember being 14 years old and telling my family that I wanted to be in the entertainment industry and their response wasn’t as excited as I was telling them. So I had to get my own car at the age of 16 and drive myself to auditions. By the age of 17, I landed Soul Train as one of the main dancers. I ended up getting my bachelors from cal state San Bernardino in mass communication and media studies and caught the eye of a clothing line called Ingenious Style. I became the face of the line and interviewed on any and every red carpet I could get to. From there I moved to DC to get my masters from Howard University in mass communication and media studies and that’s when everything blew up. I became a viral sensation on YouTube, a guest correspondent on 106 & Park, host for Howard’s Homecoming Yardfest, host and creator of a top 10 music video countdown aired in Africa and Europe, and so much more. I say all that to say…it took me almost 20 years to get to where I am today! This did not come easy nor did it come overnight!

Currently, you are one of the main cast members on T.I.’s Grand Hustle, how is the series challenging you and helping develop the persona of Yonathan Elias?

Being on BET’s Grand Hustle with T.I. is one of the biggest accomplishments I have made. Being crowned as one of the “main” cast members because of camera time and my storyline has definitely helped develop the persona of Yonathan Elias. Viewers now see how much of a hustler I really am and it’s dope to have so many of them contact me to say how much of an inspiration I am to them!

I have learned so much from the challenges that Tip would give us. Hearing each challenge we received, I immediately questioned my ability to deliver what T.I. was looking for, simply because most of the challenges were very foreign to me. I am used to being in front of the camera and not behind developing and producing. But the show has taught me that I can do whatever I put my mind to because each time I was Lead for a challenge, I led my team to victory and that’s an amazing feeling I can’t even describe.

Aside from your growing on-screen career, behind the scenes, you are writing for television and beyond, tell us about your project ‘Bruk’s Brothers’ which is currently in pre-production. It has to be exciting working with the great Frank Gatson!

My dream was always to create a show and star in it. Being on Grand Hustle taught me to always go after my dreams and aspirations and not to let anything stand in my way. So I wrote an AMAZING series called Bruk’s Brothers about 4 guys facing adult adversities while trying to keep their brotherhood strong. It will be a Dramedy with jaw-dropping and hilarious events throughout the series. I’m so fortunate and blessed to be working with a living legend, Frank Gatson, who agreed to Direct my series! Re’Shaun Frear, amazing TV/Film producer, will also be Executive Producer for the series. This is literally the work of Prayer and Faith! I’m so honored and blessed to have this anticipated series in pre-production, CREATED BY ME!

Yonathan Elias (Press Photo)

Yonathan Elias (Photography courtesy of Marc-Anthony Lewis)

Outside of being on-screen, what makes Yonathan tick?

What makes Yonathan tick? Well, if you have seen any of ‘Grand Hustle’, I’m sure Y’all have seen the drama that surrounds my name. I really can’t stand fake people and that was the hardest thing for me to deal with in the mansion. I would let a “Non MothaFu&$&in Factor” get under my skin because I’m not used to having to deal with fake people in my circle, leave alone having to work and live with them. Luckily T.I. sat me down and had a talk with me, finally making me realize that I shouldn’t give anyone the power to have any type of control over my emotions. I thank him for that lesson because I know I’ll be able to use that in the future.

On the serious side, being a part of the African Diaspora, are there any concerns for you about the region you look to help address? Are you by chance participating in the African Diaspora Young Leaders Summit?

My brand is being 1st generation in the United States. My mother is Eritrean/Ethiopian and my father is Nigerian. I strive to be a good example to all my people in Africa who see themselves in me. Any one of them who has a dream, I want to be the motivation to help them follow that passion. I would love to be apart of the African Diaspora Youth Summit because so many youths in Africa feel like the dream I’m living is so far of a reach, when it really isn’t! I want to be the Voice of Africa and show the world that we too can be Great! Shout out to Tiffany Haddish for repping my country Eritrea well! Someone connect us. She might be my cousin. Lmao.

Yonathan Elias arrives at 2018 BET Hip Hop Awards (Photography courtesy of Tim Gunn)

Yonathan Elias arrives at 2018 BET Hip Hop Awards (Photography courtesy of Tim Gunn)

Last but not least, The Hype Magazine wants to know what’s been your craziest “Where They Do That At?!” or WTV moment thus far in your exciting career?

Hahaha. Ok so for my “Where they do that at?” story I’m gonna need my Mama to not read this part. Lmao. So I was in the airport in ATL (where fans show soooo much love being that we shot the show there) and there were a group of supporters of #TeamYonathan that found my airdrop and freely submitted a plethora of Nudes to show their support. Haha. I embarrassingly looked around and saw them sitting on the other side of the gate waving and giggling. It’s safe to say that my airdrop is now ‘Contacts Only’!


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About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, and internationally published arts & entertainment journalist. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture as well as the United States Press Corps.


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