The creative force known as Papa Joe Aviance (PJ) is a man of many talents, among them – a Top 10 Billboard recording artist. The Los Angeles based, Michigan native’s collaborative track “Last Night a DJ Saved my Life” with Lula on Kult Records reached #6 on the Billboard Chart. That success also led to the aspiring actor landing roles on the Dave Chappelle show, Jamie Kennedy Experience, and Disney commercials. Still, despite such achievements, PJ felt there was so much more he wanted to say and do to make a distinctive mark in the entertainment industry.
This aspiration would lead him to take a step back, assess his life and embark upon a significant health transformation, ultimately losing an astounding 275 lbs – naturally! The decision to lose so much weight was not a frivolous one based on simply wanting to conform to Hollywood standards. It was instead a quality-of-life issue as PJ realized he might be not reaching his full potential, due to the physical limitations assigned by his obesity. In sharing the turning point that prompted his weight loss journey, PJ explained,
“The turning point came for me in a straightforward incident that changed everything. I love Rollercoasters, and I was at an amusement park one day with friends. Because of my size, I was unable to ride a rollercoaster. At that moment, I decided I no longer wanted to live a restricted life.”
PJ’s self-reflection was one of celebratory awareness of sorts in which he was proud of his past accomplishments as he looked to the road ahead with confidence, knowing that losing nearly 300 lbs of body weight would be no easy task. At this time contemplation, a creative spark jolted the comic book enthusiast to create a new animated/comic character, “The Electric Negro.”
The name “Electric Negro” is indeed provocative, but it’s not meant to be funny. It is a complex culmination of the African American experience represented by a character who is in some ways similar to PJ and even myself. We are black men, not thugs, confidently articulate with a robust lexicon, and we shared with each other that at some point in our lives we had both been told that we “talk” or “act” white. This is a dynamic that millions of African Americans encounter; those of us who don’t fit a racial stereotype. This angst is abstractly presented in the character of Andre – a young man seeking the acceptance of his peers but with the added bonus of being a superhero. He wants to fit in as he returns to his previous, more urban neighborhood from where his family moved when he was 5 years old. However, the suburbs are in his DNA now and try as he might, “the white doesn’t wash off this kid.”
The Electric Negro is also metaphoric in a very personal way for PJ,
“When you look at the totality of things that I have gone through in my life, you might think that it was just too extraordinary – too unbelievable – to happen to one person. Yet, here I am. I was a drastically obese man weighing in at over 400 lbs, lost 250 pounds naturally – by walking and eating healthy from my local 99 Cent Only Store. After losing the weight, I became a Brand Ambassador for the 99 Cent Only Store and began sharing my message with the world. That same year I was hit by a car and had to undergo several surgeries, and it to months of physical therapy to get back on track. As I was getting back to “normal,” I wrote a book about my experiences, and it became a best-seller on Amazon.”
With so much more to endure on his remarkable journey, PJ’s success as a best-selling author was interrupted as he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Given just 6 months to live, he put his faith in his doctors and began treatment. Less than a year later – his doctors are calling him a modern-day miracle, as most of the cancer cells are no longer detectable.
It is nearly impossible to imagine someone going through so much adversity and still living life day to day with a smile and a focus on the positive aspects of life. PJ is living his best life just like that. For lack of a better term, he, in fact, seem “electric” with a life force that is unstoppable and his inspiration, infectious. His physical health transformation alone was so astonishing he found himself featured on shows such as The Doctors, Rachel Ray, Good Day NY. He even went on to become a brand ambassador for The American Heart Association, inspiring others as he shared his personal story.
As for his new brainchild, “The Electric Negro,” it’s currently being produced as a feature film, a live-action TV show, and an animated series with a stellar cast of voice actors that includes Back Street Boy hottie, AJ McLean as the bad guy, “Mr. Palm.”
Papa Joe Aviance and his co-creator Luis Garcia, have a potential hit on their hands in an era where adult-esque animated series like South Park and Boondocks have become mainstream network hits and beloved cult classics. The series is about overcoming obstacles and stereotypes. The series is unapologetic, controversial, and about diversity and inclusion of everyone. As PJ puts it, “…. in other words, we don’t believe in closets.”
So get ready to behold the power of “The Electric Negro,” – coming soon!
Check out the best-selling “Balancing the Scales” by Papa Joe Aviance