Nick Cannon has over 6 million social media followers and is using his platform to highlight political issues
The TV host talks about co-parenting amicably with Mariah Carey
Cannon discusses his ongoing battle with Lupus
Nick Cannon is getting political.
The rapper, TV host, actor, advocate, producer and proud father is a busy man. Despite juggling multiple jobs, Cannon also makes time to take on several political and social justice causes close to his heart through his weekly “Spoken Word” videos.
In a recent wide-ranging interview, the San Diego native talked to CNN about why he’s not voting for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, his artful approach to social media and co-parenting with Mariah.
You’re somebody that’s adding to the conversation these days on social media and using your platform as a celebrity to talk about important issues. Why?
I’m just a vocal person and a passionate person. I’ve always been the kind of person if something’s on my mind, I’m going to say it and deal with any consequences or repercussions afterward. Part of my business is offending people. I use my loud voice and my over-the-top persona to actually express myself in a comedic way, but also when it comes to real issues.
The election is coming up and you’ve been very vocal about the fact that you might not even vote this year?
Absolutely [I’m voting]. I’m not voting for those two people [Clinton or Trump], at this point. To me, I truly believe that the presidential race is about a bunch of pageantry. It’s a popularity contest. They’re so focused on arguing with each other [as] opposed to the real issues that are going on in everyday America. They like to deal with what they call the hot-button topics but the things that people in these disenfranchised communities – who are really looking to their leaders to change something – they’re not speaking on any of those issues.
Black Lives Matter is an issue that hits close to home for you. You’ve really made that the forefront of your Sunday “Spoken Word” videos. What do you think is the answer?
I feel like there are several answers, but the quick answer is we have to recondition the mindset of what a young black man means to America. For so long, we have been conditioned and programmed to fear young black men that we don’t care about one another. There’s this divide and conquer mentality that has been going on for so long – all the way to slavery. It’s unfair drug laws. I believe things like the prison industrial complex, that’s real. That’s modern day slavery. When we say black lives matter, we’re not really stepping out there saying ‘oh we’re mad at an individual.’ I truly believe it’s a systemic problem. We know that there’s good cops, but I don’t know of a good system.
Are you worried for the future of your own son?
I am definitely worried for the future of my own children and I think that’s one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about it … It’s a varied situation of making sure you make it home safely because ultimately that’s all everyone wants to do. That’s all the officers want to do. That’s all the young person wants to do. Everyone just wants to get home safely. If we can respect each other in that sense as human beings, then I believe it’s at least the right conversation to have. Dr. King always said it best, ‘You’ve got to learn to live together as brothers or we are going to perish together as fools.’
When it comes to Instagram, it seems like you’re very thoughtful about what you post. What’s your thinking behind what you put out there?
The beauty of Instagram, for me, is that it does come off in an artistic way. Where on Twitter, it’s just words.
You went through a really public divorce with Mariah Carey. You seem like you both co-parent really amicably. How do you do that?
I think that’s what everyone should do. It goes back to that idea of you’re supposed to be good parents. You take a situation that may not be so good and you make the best out of it. More than anything, I thank and appreciate my children. If anything, they are the ones that have to suffer through our schedules and our lives not coinciding with what we wish it would be regionally. I have amazing children. That’s the main goal is to be the best parents to those children. Mariah and I are both on that same page. That’s all we want is the best for our children.
Would you ever get married again?
Never. Not a chance. I’m firm I would never get married again. You can write that in stone.
You’ve been open about your battle with lupus. Tell me about how you’re doing now?
I’m doing great, now. My doctor would probably say I need more sleep but proper exercise, putting the right things in your body and having people around you who care about your well-being is really important as well. Being healthy is a full-time job.
What’s the most fun part about hosting America’s Got Talent?
The kids. I love every aspect of seeing a young person accomplish their dreams. It’s something magical when you see a kid out there that’s uber talented and you see an entire theater go crazy for them. You see this glow of potential over this young person. It’s unreal.
Do you feel like your role is even more important and meaningful because you know that young men and women are looking up to you?
Whether it’s ‘America’s Got Talent,’ or whether it’s ‘Wild N Out’ or whether it’s sitting here speaking to you, I always want to be the best me I can possibly be; uphold not just the legacy of African American men but just uphold my family values. I want to make my grandmother proud. I think if we all come from a place like that, it really resonates in a way to where we all want to be examples. I never want to be a role model, though. I believe a role is something you play. I attempt to be a real model and be as real as possible.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.