Terry Crews is a comedy staple. From his leading roles on shows such as Everybody Hates Chris and Brooklyn Nine-Nine to his cameos in smash hit movies, including White Chicks and The Expendables, the Flint, Mich. native has a real penchant for making people laugh. But did you know he’s also a talented athlete who used to work security for Ice Cube and recently launched a furniture line? Let’s dive even deeper into this star’s fascinating life.
He got his start playing for the NFL
Before he turned to acting, Crews spent four seasons playing in the NFL. He kicked off his football career as a defensive end for Western Michigan and, in 1991, was an 11th round draft pick, joining the Los Angeles Rams before being recruited by the San Diego Chargers in 1993, the Washington Redskins in 1995 and, finally, the Philadelphia Eagles in 1996, playing 32 games in total.
It may be uncommon for a professional athlete to transition into showbiz full-time, but as Crews told Business Insider in March 2017, his career on the field actually helped his career on set. "The good thing about football is that you develop a work ethic if you work at it, if you try," he said. "And you start to learn that anything can be learned… as long as you keep doing it, you can get it." He added, "It really prepared me for entertainment, in that, I could take rejection, I could go to an audition and realize that it wasn’t about me and just realize it was about the piece."
The transition had its hardships. "You are known as an athlete… and then all of a sudden, you have to rebuild your life," he said. "It’s very, very intense. People who have been in your college with you have gone on to relative success while you are starting over. And it’s very strange, it’s very foreign."
He worked as Ice Cube’s bodyguard
Before he played Damon in Ice Cube’s 2002 stoner comedy Friday After Next, Crews worked as a bodyguard for the rapper-turned-movie maker.
Asked about the gig by VICE in 2017, Crews was candid. "After I played football, I went broke," he said. "I had to regroup and one of my first jobs was location security. Trying to get involved with the movie industry… the gig I got was security guard. I worked 12 hours a day. I was standing outside of Cube’s trailer on the set of Next Friday and I would watch his car, I would watch his stuff. He would come out, I was like, ‘Hello, Mr. Cube. How are you, sir?’ and he was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, whatever.’"
How things have changed!
He had his ‘I made it!’ moment in 2005
"I was doing movies and I would do my thing and people knew me…but you always had to look for the next gig, he told VICE in 2017. "But when Everybody Hates Chris was goin’ and we went into year two, year three and year four, me and my wife and the kids were like, ‘Okay, we’re gonna be here, we eatin’! Mom, we eatin’!"
He was an O.G. Old Spice Guy
Most of us may immediately think of former NFL wide receiver Isaiah Mustafa when trying to name the funniest Old Spice spokesperson—the actor starred in the Emmy-winning viral sensation that was 2010’s "Man Your Man Could Smell Like." But did you know that Crews was recruited to star in the brand’s ‘Odor Blocker‘ ad campaigns?
Crews has appeared in five campaigns (while Mustafa has starred in seven.) In 2015, Old Spice actually brought the rivalry to an end (sort of) by casting the pair in the same commercial, which it dubbed "Interruption."
He battled a pornography addiction
Taking to Facebook in 2016, Crews unexpectedly shared seven video diaries with his fans, which he dubbed his Dirty Little Secret Series. In the clips, Crews talked about his pornography addiction: "Some people say, ‘Hey, man, you can’t really be addicted to pornography,’ but I’m gonna tell you something: If day turns into night and you are still watching, you probably have got a problem. And that was me," he said.
The dad of five went on to reveal that he tried to hide his addiction from his children and wife, Rebecca King-Crews, but "it affected everything. My wife was literally like, ‘I don’t know you anymore. I’m out of here.’ I had to change. I literally had to go to rehab for it," he said in the video diary (via CNN.)
He’s a talented flute player
During an interview with talk show host James Corden, Crews revealed a hidden talent no one was expecting: he’s a talented flute player!
"My great-aunt, when I was a little kid, I was about eight years old, she said, ‘What instrument do you wanna play?’ I was just really trying to get out of the house and I was like, ‘Ummm, a flute.’" Fast forward to Christmas and "there it was, under the tree, a guitar for my brother and a flute for me," he said. "My mother made me play the flute for like seven, eight years."
Crews then proceeded to demonstrate his talent live on the show.
He launched a furniture line
In what was a surprising move, to say the least, Crews announced his plans to launch a furniture line in collaboration with Bernhardt Design and debuted the collection at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York in May 2017.
As Elle Decor reported after seeing the pieces, "the results are seriously stunning," and while sharing his inspiration, Crews wowed with his extensive knowledge of interior design.
"When I began my collection, I was very aware of the significant influence of many modern contemporary designers like Corbusier, Saarinen, McCobb, Charles and Ray Eames," he told the outlet. "I began envisioning what modern contemporary furniture would look like if Egypt was the dominant world power: ‘What would an evening in a luxurious, modern Egyptian palace look like?’"
As it turns out, this project was a long time coming. "As a child, I loved to draw," he said. "My exposure to Star Wars opened my eyes to the possibilities of design: new vehicles, new furniture, and new worlds."
He was a victim of sexual assault
As an increasing number of women come forward to share their stories of sexual abuse and assault in Hollywood, Crews became one of the first men to bravely open up about his own experiences, proving that harassment has nothing to do with gender.
Speaking with Good Morning America, Crews claimed that in February 2016, "I was assaulted by Adam Venit, who is head of the Motion Picture Department at William Morris Endeavor, one of the biggest agencies in the world, period." The 49-year-old recounted a "bizarre" meeting with Venit (who represents Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy and Sylvester Stallone), claiming the agent made suggestive movements with his tongue and groped him at a party.
"He comes over to me, I stick my hand out, and he literally takes his hand and…squeezes my genitals," said Crews. "I have never felt more emasculated, more objectified. I was horrified." Venit then allegedly kept making lewd gestures and giggling until Crew and his wife left.
Being a father inspired Crews to speak up. "What kind of man would I be to tell my kids, ‘If someone touches you where you don’t want to be touched, tell someone, tell someone,’ and then I don’t do it?" he said. "Let me tell you something, it freed me. I knew instantly that I had to tell my story so that other people could be free."
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Venit went on leave following Crews’ accusations. Variety reported that Crews filed a police report about the alleged groping on Nov. 8, 2017, and at the time of this writing, the department is investigating.
He compared his experience to being a prisoner of war
Crews shone a light on why he believes so many actresses kept their stories of harassment and assault quiet for so long, telling ABC News, "When a person of power breaks that boundary… you are a prisoner of war. You’re in a camp because you’re trying to figure out when is the right time to come out. Then you finally find freedom and someone says, ‘Well, it must not be that bad. You should’ve came out sooner.’"
"This is the thing that a lot of people just don’t understand and they end up blaming the victim," Crews said, adding, "I have totally said I will not be shamed. I will not be shamed. I did nothing wrong. Nothing. People need to be held accountable."
He slammed Russell Simmons for unwanted advice
After revealing his personal story about sexual assault, Crews slammed legendary music producer Russell Simmons for allegedly asking him to "give [Venit] a pass…ask that he be reinstated." Taking to Twitter, Crews uploaded a screenshot of an email he says he received from Simmons, writing, in part: "NO ONE GETS A PASS."
The tweet came shortly after Keri Claussen Khalighi, a former aspiring model, told the Los Angeles Times that Simmons allegedly sexually assaulted her when she was 17 years old.
The Def Jam co-founder denied any wrongdoing in a lengthy post on Facebook, but did not address Crews’ backlash.