Arts

Killer Mike discusses new PBS show and his reverence for the arts

Killer Mike, a Grammy award-winning rapper, actor, activist and entrepreneur, is now hosting a television show series on PBS called “Love & Respect with Killer Mike.”
Killer Mike, a Grammy award-winning rapper, actor, activist and entrepreneur, is now hosting a television show series on PBS called “Love & Respect with Killer Mike.”
Credit Evan Vucci / Associated Press

Michael Santiago Render, better known as Killer Mike, is a Grammy Award-winning rapper, passionate political activist, Atlanta business owner and art enthusiast. Anyone who’s heard him speak also knows he’s a low-key scholar of Atlanta history. Now, the artist hosts a new show on ATL PBA, “Love and Respect, with Killer Mike.” He conducts weekly interviews with politicians, artists, athletes, civic leaders, and celebrities. Tomorrow at 10 p.m., the show will broadcast a conversation with Atlanta film director and producer Tyler Perry. Killer Mike also spoke with “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to share about what inspired his new show and the values he brings to every discussion.

Interview highlights:

The peacemaking philosophy of ‘Love and Respect’:

“Right now, people are polarized. People kind of identify under the banners of whatever their ’ism’ they claim, and they really are staunchly fortified against, or always looking for opposition to their idea, or it feels that way – versus people who just approach each other as two human beings, and sit down and have a conversation about the who, what, whys, and wheres of who the person is,” said Render.

“It reminded me of why, as a kid, I liked Fred Rogers. He never seemed to be imposing an idea on me, except for the fact that I should treat myself and my neighbors with kindness and with respect, and I should seek love over anger. It reminded me of Levar Burton on Reading Rainbow and feeling like education was something fun and to be celebrated. It reminded me of Bob Ross, and speaking in a calm voice and teaching people, through having them do it, versus telling them what to do,” said Render. “I thought that no better place for that than WPBA, no better time than right now with people seeming to be so polarized, and what better way to show people a different type of interview, [than to] simply have a conversation with someone, versus just asking someone questions for them to defend?”

How one of Atlanta’s busiest artists ended up in journalism:

“I didn’t consider myself a journalist until a journalist told me I was a journalist when I was filming a “Today Show” piece a couple of days ago,” said Render. “I was just a curious, chubby, ten-year-old kid who would embarrass my mom by going places and asking people a ton of questions, and I think I get that from her mom, who raised me.”

“I was raised around a bunch of interesting people. I grew up in a neighborhood called Collier Heights, which was a Black enclave on the Westside of Atlanta that was started by the Black community for itself in 1948. It didn’t wish to fight to be somewhere it wasn’t wanted. So I grew up in a mixed-income community, so I had everyone from Ralph David Abernathy, the King parents, regular Joe Schmoes, my teachers, and principals lived in my neighborhood; I just found myself talking to people. I’m naturally curious, so I always wanted to be on TV talking to people, and here I go.”

On first meeting Tyler Perry, and the mutual admiration it inspired:

“We were invited to his studio, my wife and I. I had no idea that he even knew how I was…. He grabs me and says, ‘We’re so glad you could make it, I didn’t know if you were coming, but I’m glad you’re here.’ He held me for a few seconds, and he said, ‘We will talk.’ I took it with a grain of salt. I took it as, ‘Man, I have met my idol.’ This man has done amazing things, from sleeping in cars to making it out of abject poverty, and just hard circumstances to becoming something,” Render said. “He really is someone I would like to pattern my work ethic after. I get this opportunity to do this show; I… put together a dream list. He’s on that list, and lo and behold, he says yes. He says yes when he doesn’t have a movie coming out or a book; he’s not on a promo campaign. He simply says yes because he’s impressed by the character of the person I am and the work that I do in the community, and I am equally impressed by him.”

“He truly has an inspirational story, a story of Christ-like forgiveness. Now, I’m no Christian, but when I read about the character of Christ, to understand the love, the compassion, and the want for better for even those that have harmed you, is something that human beings aspire towards, but not many of us actually achieve. And I can honestly say I’ve been in the presence of someone like that,” Render said.

“Love and Respect with Killer Mike” airs on ATL PBA every Friday and Sunday at 10 p.m. More information is available at https://www.pbs.org/show/love-respect-killer-mike.

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