2012 Democratic National Convention: Will.i.am Slams Congress, Calls George W. Bush a 'Wacko' (Q&A)
The musician tells THR that "profit is more important than people" in today's government, though he remains fiercely supportive of Obama.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Music multihyphenate will.i.am wears many hats. He's the Black Eyed Peas' frontman, a rapper, singer, songwriter, producer, DJ, actor, entrepreneur and, perhaps most importantly, an outspoken activist.
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Will.i.am, who recently became the first artist to have his music played on Mars, spoke out on America's job crisis and how to fix it during a panel hosted by The Huffington Post and moderated by Tom Brokaw on Wednesday. Following a lengthy discussion alongside Rosario Dawson, LinkedIn co-founder Allen Blue and Startup America CEO Scott Case, among several others, the hip-hop superstar spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about why he supports President Obama, what's wrong with our government and why he never would run for office.
One topic left unaddressed: his music — the very thing that made him famous in the first place.
Tell me why it was so important for you to be here at the DNC?
It's important to be here living vicariously for my family and the people who are at home that are disengaged that need to know about what's going on, so I can go back home and be a beacon of information and inspiration. To remind them how important their involvement is.
You introduced Bill Clinton at his party the other night. How was that experience?
Clinton is a big inspiration to me and the world. I love what he's doing with his philanthropy and having the Clinton Global Initiative. I learned so much from his conference and his program, so I was just blessed and honored to introduce him yesterday.
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Why are you such a strong supporter of President Obama?
America is divided right now. It's suffering from division. With division, you can conquer. It's the classic case of divide and conquer right now, and the only politician, president, candidate that we have right now that can unite the country is Obama. We've seen that in 2008.
America needs to be treated like a family: with morals and values, with encouragement and education and dedication and discipline, not like a corporation. Being treated like a corporation got us to where we are now. We're people, we're not consumers. Although we consume, we're not even educated on what's healthy. So now we have consumers that aren't the healthiest people in the world — that's because our morals and our values are all out of whack. So we need to get that sense of family, that sense of urgency, that sense of cohesiveness and understanding and dedication and discipline. The only person that I would follow, if that's what we need to accomplish, is Obama.
Do you remember the first time you voted?
2004. I was just turning 30.
What motivated you to go to the polls?
Bush. We had a wacko in the place that was tearing our country apart.
If you were to ever run for political office …
Because I do philanthropy. It's something that, there's no blockade stopping me from doing it. There's no Congress, there's no spiderweb. A lot of the reason why Obama's having a hard time doing what we all know we should do is because of Congress. It's the invisible bogeyman that's clogging the pipes, but no one dares to even look to fix it, or doesn't know how to fix it.
Do you have faith in the political system?
I think it's the reason why people aren't tuned in this time like they were last time. There's a lack of faith that they have. I mean, $30,000 to $50,000 for an inmate, $4,000 to $6,000 for a student. Do you have faith with those numbers? I have faith in people.
Do you think there is room for politics and philanthropy to coexist?
That's what government is supposed to be. To govern over you. To guide you down the right path to make sure there's equality and purpose in life and real information and stability. Protection. But right now, that's not what government is. We've been co-opted and sold out. Profit is more important than people.
On a lighter note, what are you working on musically?
I don't wanna talk about music! I'm not here to do that.
Email: Sophie.Schillaci@thr.com; Twitter: @SophieSchillaci