If you were to look up the word Gentleman in the dictionary, a picture of Fonzworth Bentley is sure to be present, for he is the incontrovertible authority on the subject. Bentley is a hip-hop artist, author, entertainer, fashion designer, and former personal assistant to Sean “Diddy” Combs; he can now add TV host to his resume.
On Tuesday July 15, MTV will premiere their new show, From G’s to Gents. Jamie Foxx acts as executive producer, along with Cris Abrego known for his shows, The Surreal Life, Flavor of Love, My Fair Brady, Gotti's Way and I Love New York. The purpose of the show is to take 14 young men and transform the one left standing (after a series of successfully completed tasks) into a gentleman. The challenges will be in various areas such as style, etiquette, chivalry, business and more. Bentley will serve as mentor, life-coach and confidante to the contestants.
MTV has never aired a show quite like this and it is certain to have a positive impact on viewers. Making cameo appearances in select challenges are music and business mogul Master P, food and wine expert Ted Allen, music producer Irv Gotti, designer Ozwald Boateng and platinum recording artists Danity Kane.
From G’s to Gents will not be a show to fly under the radar. This show will make a statement, a look at what many young men struggle with in America. Fonzworth Bentley discusses this and more with Katrina-Kasey Wheeler.
From G’s to Gents is a new show premiering on MTV, July 15. On the show, you serve as mentor, life-coach and confidante to the 14 young men who all believe that they have what it takes to shed their bad boy image and make life altering choices. What has it been like to work these young men?
It has been great. When I wrote my book on etiquette, Advance Your Swagger released in September of 2007, my goal was to reach at least 80 schools in two years. Currently, I am at about 65; I have been everywhere from Harvard to different boys clubs, HBCUs, and I have been targeting single-gender schools. So this is essentially what my work has been. To be able to do this, to be an arbiter of good taste and choose A-listers to help teach the lessons, challenge the men, and show it on television is going to be great. What is going to happen is there will be some young man watching the show that goes “He reminds me of myself,” or, “I had that same problem. “He has those addictions and he has been able to overcome them and so can I.” I see it as an opportunity. It is a window into America, to show exactly what is going on. It is easy to be a “G” and it takes a lot more effort to become a gentleman.
So would you say that you believe that any man who truly wants to make the transition from being a G to a gentleman can do so?
I do believe that anyone can, but it is a give-and-take relationship. I told the guys from the start that, “I am going to be as committed to this as you are. I will give you the tools and I will make sure that you learn them, and I will not move forward until I feel that you have learned them. If you are not committed and not making the right decisions, it is going to be difficult for you, and you won’t be able to make the changes.” It started out with 14 guys who came in thinking they were on television and had the opportunity to make $100,000 dollars, but it ended up being more about them wanting to stay on and not get eliminated, so that they could learn the lessons because they are fundamental things that they needed to know in order to make them become better people and get them closer to achieving their dreams.
I think the show will have a positive impact. It is not so much about changing an image as it is about finding one’s self respect and becoming the best people possible. Every week contestants participated in weekly challenges in every area from style, etiquette, chivalry, business and more. While taping this show were there moments where you were surprised by certain young men who rose to the occasion or perhaps how difficult it was for some to contend?
Without a doubt! We had some leaders within the house, certain guys that would challenge the others to really step their game up – their swagger. Respect amongst their peers was one of the most important lessons that really rang true. Once that was established the guys understood that as they grew to learn more about one another, they didn’t want to see anyone slacking, they truly wanted to see one another make the change. So we definitely had guys who stepped up and became leaders.
You are obviously a perfect fit for this show. I’m sure many of the contestants looked at you as a role model more than anything else, and wanted to become just like you, in many respects. The show is executive produced by Jamie Foxx. When you were first approached to be a part of this project were you enthralled? Was it something that you wanted to do?
Not at first. I wanted to meet with them and make sure that they were on the right tone and the right message. If it was going to be something where we throw these guys in and watch them crash and burn, then I didn’t care if they offered 10 million dollars; I wasn’t going to be part of it and align my brand with it. Once I saw that the tone was there, and that Jamie Foxx and Cris Abrego really wanted to make changes and show these guys go through the transformations, I knew it was something that I wanted to be a part of. I said no to other offers of reality shows over the last three years – this is not a game for me.
The show will definitely stand out in that way. It will have a positive impact on viewers. It will deliver a compelling message to the young men of America.
Thank you and I appreciate you taking notice. I want the show to be something that people can watch and take notes.
I think the show portrays a positive message for young men in America. It demonstrates that anything is attainable. Not that one needs to change their complete image per se, but that it is more about becoming the best that they can be. You mentioned earlier that you are working on an album, how is that coming along?
The video for the first single is done; it features me, Kanye West, and Andre 3000. It is really cool because Kanye and Andre had never worked together before, and I made that happen. I also taught them the choreography.
It sounds amazing. I’m sure your fans will love it. When does the album drop?
It will be later this summer. I am looking to put the video out on MTV very soon.
You can catch Fonzworth Bentley on “From G’s to Gents” which will premiere July 15 on MTV at 10 PM PT/ET; check local listings for channel. For more information visit: G's to Gents website. Powered by Sidelines