theGrio’s 100: MK Asante, multifaceted storyteller, uses ‘edutainment’ to stimulate youth

Who is MK Asante?

MK Asante, Jr. is a filmmaker, award-winning writer and respected college professor. He is still only 31 years old.

A masterful storyteller, Zimbabwe-born Asante is a force to be reckoned with. He’s written four books, as well as three films, including The Black Candle, which was narrated by legendary author Maya Angelou.

The multi-talented creative star has toured in over 40 countries and lectured at leading colleges such as Harvard, Yale and Stanford. Asante’s essays have been published in USA Today, Huffington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and the New York Times.

Education is at the heart of Asante’s work. At just 23 he was a college professor. His passion is to communicate and educate new generations through a language they can understand.

As a tenured professor of creative writing and film at Morgan State University in Baltimore, he teaches students, many of whom are close to him in age, using language that resonates with the young.

In an interview with theGrio, Asante describes his work as “edutainment,” a blend of education and entertainment. “Everything I do is education but it’s also entertaining.”

Why is he on theGrio’s 100?

The ultracool, super talented, hyperactive kid on the block had a phenomenal year in 2013 with the publication of his critically acclaimed memoir Buck, which has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Biography/Auto-Biography and has received gushing reviews.

Described by Angelou as “A story of surviving and thriving with passion, compassion, wit, and style,” Buck chronicles Asante’s coming of age on the tough streets of North Philadelphia.

He recalls his troubled youth in Philly, his mother’s mental illness, his university professor father’s absence and his brother’s incarceration.

“It deals with my education in unconventional ways,” said Asante. “It’s about mis-education, re-education, self-education and the graceful survival against impossible circumstances.”

Eventually an alternative school transformed Asante’s life. He was encouraged by a teacher to write anything he wanted on a single blank sheet of paper. This triggered his passion for writing and his desire to utilize the power of words.

What’s next for Asante?

Asante is a Sundance Feature Film Fellow for the movie adaptation of Buck. He told theGrio the film is currently in development and he anticipates a release date this year or 2015.