Terry Crews: I’m the biggest unicorn in Hollywood

Terry Crews is ... well, what exactly is he? Let’s stick here to: former American football player, former star of those iconic Old Spice commercials, sketch artist, successful actor and social media phenomenon. The 52-year-old even is a designer of high-end furniture.
Text Wiebke Brauer
Photo Getty Images  /  Christina House

For a guy who admits to once fishing for loose change among his sofa cushions, this man has come a long way. Born in Flint, Michigan, in 1968 into a devout Christian family, he goes on to study at Western Michigan University, plays American football and draws sketches on the side. Although “on the side” is perhaps a bit of an understatement. He says it like this: “During my first NFL off-season, my passion for art reawakened. I sketched for enjoyment and loved doing logos for local rap groups and businesses… I worked at a small design firm doing sketches, mock-ups, and painting animation backdrops. At the team hotels, I would set up my art table and continue to paint. I had no shortage of players contracting me to do portraits of their wives, kids and themselves.” What he doesn’t say: He earned more money with his sketches than by playing football.

»I had no shortage of players contracting me to do portraits of their wives, kids and themselves.” What Terry Crews doesn’t say: He earned more money with his sketches than by playing football.

After retiring from the NFL, he began to pursue a career in acting. His credits include films like The 6th Day with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Starsky & Hutch and The Expendables as well as television appearances too numerous to list here. It seems unnecessary to say that Crews is so full of energy that he can even get on the nerves of his wife and three kids. “I wake up and jump out of bed. I’m, like, Mr. Positive… and I’m big in a lot of things I do.

»I’m either going 100 miles an hour or I’m just dead asleep at a stop.«

His latest project is a collection for American furniture brand Bernhardt Design that has even made a splash internationally. Crews drew inspiration from the culture of ancient Egypt and imagined what it would be like if pharaohs were still around today. The result was Lilypad, a swivelling chair set on a low table. Crews’s explanation: “There’s this Egyptian sky god named Horus and he was always pictured sitting on a water lily. And basically, when you sit in my chair, you feel like a god.” The chair looks good, too – although it costs a proud 3,800 dollars. But even if you don’t get yourself a Lilypad, you should continue to keep an eye on the sorts of things Terry Crews does on the side.

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