Since Derek Watkins – aka Fonzworth Bentley – strode on the scene carrying an umbrella over Diddy’s head, we haven’t seen any other assistant do it quite like him. It seems he was made for the limelight. Never one to try and outshine, the planets just aligned themselves for Bentley’s success. The name itself garnishes recognition and respect. When you think of Fonzworth Bentley, what comes to mind—the fancy footwork he’s laced many hip hop videos with, the well-dressed, well-spoken gentleman or the laid back and effortlessly cool author of Advance Your Swagger: How to Use Manners, Style and Confidence to Get Ahead? However you think of this self-made man, he’s all of these and more.
In addition to writing a swag-tastic etiquette guidebook, Mr. Bentley also created a show with the same concept behind it. The reality show From G’s to Gents is a testimony to his desire to mentor. He will also soon be releasing his debut album CoolOutrageousLoversOfUniquelyRawStyle (C.O.L.O.U.R.S.). Yes, that’s right an album. Music has been something that has supplemented Bentley’s life since birth and this year we will finally get to see the full scope of its impact on the gentleman. His first single, “Everybody” is currently out and the sound is spectacular. So, we expect some G.O.O.D. (album to be released on Kanye’s label as a joint venture with Sony) music from Fonzworth Bentley, who attributes everything to manners, confidence and style.
This question is not intended to be rude of offensive, but what are you famous for?
Famous? I never really thought about that. That’s interesting. I don’t consider myself famous. I consider myself a Renaissance man. If you look at any of the Renaissances—the Harlem Renaissance to the [European] Renaissance, you can draw parallels from then to now and I can just say when I read about those…people, I’m like man, I’m a Renaissance man.
What about “celebrity?”
I don’t even like that. My goal is to be a hero.
What do you feel like you’ve done thus far to be a hero?
The emails that I get, just from people that have gotten stuff from my etiquette book, it’s just exciting. When the CFO of Random House came to me with the idea of doing a book—they wanted me to do it about myself or taking myself to the next level. I wasn’t interested in doing a book about myself. I wanted to make an etiquette book, but make it cool. Folks ain’t going to read no Emily Post. They’re not. From how to do an interview, to the resume, dressing appropriate; so many things! You know the state of the lack of fathers in home and not even knowing how to tie a tie or shake a hand. All of these are basic things for folks like you and I who were brought up this way, but there are so many people out there that never got this information.
Even if I were to mentor 30 kids, it’s not enough. That’s why I wanted to write a book so I could touch thousands. I knew that there could be a show to have a bigger platform and that’s From G’s To Gents, which is in 30 countries right now. The amount of people I’ve been able to impact and the folks that come up to me, it’s like wow. So many people look at these celebrities like heroes and there’s not enough heroes. That’s what I want to be. A hero.
When manners, style and confidence fail you, what do you do then?
That’s where faith takes off. Now we’re getting philosophical. Faith is actually very simple. It’s being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see. The way faith works is, you have to exercise it. I can’t lift a 300 pound barbell. If I go to the gym, you and I are both quite sure, over time if I exercise, I will be able to lift it. That’s how faith works. People don’t understand that. You have to exercise your faith like it’s a muscle. Faith is the root of everything that I do. There are some simple tools that I think help you to feel comfortable in social situations.
Is it safe to assume that God is something that is a huge force in your life?
Yes, He is my everything.
Do you find it hard—being in entertainment—to keep people that have faith as strong as yours around you? Do you find it hard to practice you faith in different settings?
**read the rest of the interview HERE**