At age 32, Arsenio Hall became the first African American to host a national late night talk show. Two decades later at age 60, after walking away from The Arsenio Hall Show, Arsenio made a comeback to prime time for another two years, had a resurgence in his career and says even though he’s older in age, he feels younger than ever and it’s because of his son.
“When I was a kid, I watched Johnny Carson and thought, ‘I want his job when I grow up,’” Aresnio shared. “I got my own talk show in 1989. For five years I was doing what I’d always dreamed of, but it was a constant battle — for ratings, against the network. When I left in 1994, it was out of a desire to have more meaningful personal relationships. Becoming a father was one thing I didn’t want to leave the earth without doing.”
Many didn’t know that Arsenio fathered a son while on hiatus, who he says is the highlight of his life. “My son just turned 15. I was there for every PTA meeting and Little League game. One day we were watching football, and I said, ‘Let’s grab some wings and watch another game.’ It hit me: He knows I’m successful, but he’s never seen me grind. I don’t want him to grow up thinking this is easy. That’s when I knew it was time to go back. My new work schedule takes me away from him a bit — but the relationship we’ve built carries us through.”
“When I decided to get back in the game, nobody thought it was a good idea. I had to keep searching until I found one executive who believed in the project. That’s another thing we need to teach our kids: If you really want it, keep knocking on doors until somebody says, ‘Come on in.’”
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