BE Modern Man: Meet ‘Mr. Head-of-the-Class’ Chris Sumlin – Black Enterprise

BE Modern Man: Meet ‘Mr. Head-of-the-Class’ Chris Sumlin

Chris Sumlin

Name: Chris Sumlin

Age: 22

Profession: Student Author

One Word That Describes You: Ambitious


What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?

Being mentioned in the same category of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction is truly a humbly experience. It is great to be part of an initiative that is interested in showcasing black men in such a positive light. I just hope that I can do the kinds of work that lives up to the mission and intention of the BEMM 100 and make younger black men proud.

What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?

Not long after my admittance into Morehouse, I began to notice the necessity of turning my struggle into success. During my sophomore year, my family faced some hardships, and it became very difficult for us to raise the $47,000 to attend Morehouse. My family worked so hard collectively to make sure that I could attend Morehouse, and I saw them struggle to make it happen. Witnessing that struggle inspired me to give this collegiate journey 150%. As a result of working my absolute hardest, I was able to make the Dean’s List at Morehouse, publish a self-help book, and solidify internships consecutively every summer. Rather than using my struggle as an excuse, I choose to allow it to fuel my success.

What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?

An important quality that I look for when I’m building a relationship with others is authenticity. The philosophy that governs my life and work is, “If it’s pure and authentic, it will resonate with others.” In a world where there are lots of people pretending to be someone they are not, I aim to be a man of integrity and authenticity. I expect everyone I engage with to hold these principles dear to their hearts as well.

What are some immediate projects you are working on?

Currently, I am a student at Morehouse College majoring in cinema, television, and emerging media studies (CTEMS) with the aspiration of working in television. This summer I have the great honor of interning with The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in New York City. In the fall, I will return to Morehouse to continue my studies as a CTEMS student, while working with Turner in talent acquisitions.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Some of the best advice I have ever received came from Oprah’s keynote speech in San Jose at the QuickBooks Connect Conference 2015. In this keynote speech, Oprah talked about the law of intention. She said that, “The energy of your intention causes the effect or outcome in every single situation.” After hearing that speech, I was inspired to make every decision and action intentionally. Doing so has changed the trajectory of my life immensely.

What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?

Some people say follow your passions, but Mark Cuban famously says, “Follow your efforts.” I think it is important to get still, mute out the ever-present noise of the world, and find what it is that you work at the most. Whatever you are willing to sweat for, work hard at, and give your all to is what you can work towards to truly make a difference

How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?

Anytime I have an important business meeting or speaking engagement, I always get still and pray. Prayer and spirituality are the keys to my success. Before any event, I’ll call one of my Morehouse brothers and we’ll pray together, asking God to move. After we pray, I always feel fresh, inspired, and ready to take on whatever challenge lies ahead.

As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation?

Rest and relaxation is imperative for anyone who wants to be successful. You have to have rest in order to maintain momentum and be successful. One of the best vacations I have ever had was a trip that I took to Vegas in the summer of 2015. I was in Los Angeles, feeling overwhelmed with all I had to do. Although California was expensive, I took what little resources I had, teamed up with one of my Morehouse brothers, and we went to Vegas. It was a short trip, but we stayed at a beautiful resort, enjoyed the casinos, and had a phenomenal time. It was one of my best vacations. The simplistic and spontaneous nature of the trip added to its value. Sometimes you have those vacations that are pre-planned and well thought out; however, other times you grab a friend, pack up, go on an adventure, and create a moment. That was one of the best moments of that summer.

If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? 

When I was a freshman at Morehouse, I had a roommate who was Jamaican, and he would talk about the food, culture, and beauty of Jamaica. He made it seem like the best place ever. If I could travel and stay there for a while to experience the food (especially the food) and culture; that would be a dream.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Last April while completing my coursework at Morehouse, I wrote a self-help book entitled Dealing with This Thing Called Life. The book consists of 12 stories, 12 lessons, and 12 affirmations, all with one goal: to help the reader become their best self. I feel like it is important for young brothers, like me, to show that no matter where you come from, who you are, or how old you are, you can make a difference. I hope that people buy the book, read it for what it is, and are blessed by it. The book is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and anywhere books are sold.

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