J. D. Lawrence
Chairman & CEO, JD Lawrence Show Inc.
Copiague, N.Y. Age: 39
JD Lawrence has defied the odds. Born with a speech impediment, Lawrence struggled through school, but he overcame taunts by his peers to become a household name on Long Island. He is chairman and CEO of his own entertainment company, “The JD Lawrence Show Inc..” Despite skipping college, he has become a jack-of-all-trades—entertainer, director, producer and humanitarian.
Lawrence is most impressive when he steps out of his entrepreneurial character to perform. He has seven characters in his repertoire. His theatrical versatility has given him the unique distinction of becoming the first African-American playwright to receive three consecutive awards from his township, county and state. Moreover, the man can sing. Lawrence proclaims it is by God’s grace that he can step on stage and perform without stammering. He has contributed his vocal talent as a background singer to Edwin Hawkins, Paula Abdul, Chanté Moore and El Debarge, among others.
Hailed as Hollywood’s next Dave Chapelle and Tyler Perry by Broadway League of Urban Arts & Entertain-ment Ltd., Lawrence is as devoted to his community involvement as he is to his professions. For example, he is playing a key role in the development of the first New York State Office of Minority Affairs, which opened in April. The office will focus on raising health awareness in the African-American community. Lawrence’s contribution will include television, radio, workshops and live theatrical performances to relay messages about healthy living. This new undertaking is an extension of his community service organization, Hip Hop 4 Life, a group he formed to promote health awareness, good citizenship and productivity. Through the organization, Lawrence tours the country presenting concerts and educational workshops for teens on H.I.V./AIDS, obesity, second hand smoke and other health-related issues. The program also includes a “Hip-Hop Summit,” in which youngsters are encouraged to use their creativity and rap about a health topic. The winners are featured in a public service announcement shown in conjunction with Lawrence’s show.