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Terry Crews Credits His Success to Hard Work: ‘Never Stopped’

Terry Crews Credits His Success to Hard Work: ‘Never Stopped’

By Movieguide® Contributor

Terry Crews discussed hard work and the hardships he faced early in his career, from sweeping factory floors until he finally hit it big.

When Crews was drafted into the NFL in 1991, he may have thought he achieved his goal. But five years of bouncing between six professional teams proved that wasn’t the case. 

During one stint with the Green Bay Packers in 1993, he made only $150 per week during his six months in Wisconsin.

“I would have made more money at McDonalds,” Crews said on Dax Shepherd’s Armchair Expert Podcast. “That’s the reality.”

At the time, the minimum wage was $4.25 per hour; as a fast-food employee, he would have made $170 from a 40-hour work week.

To supplement his income, Crews began offering his artistic talents to his teammates.

“When I got cut [from a team, I’d] go back in the locker room and ask the players if they wanted their portraits painted,” he said. Crews would charge around $5,000 per portrait, painting his teammates on the backdrop of city skylines.

Crews retired from football in 1997 and quickly moved to Los Angeles with his wife to pursue an acting career. As he tried to find a way in entertainment, Crews relied on loans from former teammates to get by.

When his former teammates stopped lending him money, Crews found a job sweeping factory floors for $8 an hour.

“I had $64 at the end of the day. I went, ‘Oh my … I actually made this money on my own.’ I was never broke again. I never stopped working,” he explained.

Later, Crews became a security guard for movie and television studios, putting him closer to the entertainment industry. Through interactions with directors and producers in this job, Crews eventually landed his first role on screen.

He credits his success to working hard and taking pride in doing his jobs well.

“I have more money now than I ever had in my entire life…because people understand equity and honor,” Crews said. “People make money, but if they don’t have equity or honor, it all falls away – and that sounds real existential or spiritual, but it’s for real.”

Movieguide® previously reported:

In an article published to Guideposts, Crews admitted he is known for his “big muscles and alpha swagger,” but shared that he often feels “inadequate and vulnerable.”

The actor grew up in a volatile home environment. His father was an alcoholic and often beat his mother. Even then, Crews said he “yearned” for his father to love him. One time, Crews kissed him on the cheek and was taken aback by his father’s shocked reaction. 

“I decided then and there that I could never let myself be vulnerable again, as if I had discovered the key to my survival,” he said. “Not that I knew the word vulnerable but the message was unmistakable to me: ‘Squash your feelings. Get tough or get eaten alive.’”

Crews decided the key was getting bigger and stronger. He played pro football, became a security guard for movie sets, and transitioned to becoming an actor himself. However, his issues with his father were still unaddressed and they started to affect Crews’ relationships with his wife and children. 

“The more success I had, the more bad-tempered and controlling I got, fearing it would evaporate any minute,” he said.


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