Ettore “Big E” Ewen, WWE Star, joined Yahoo Finance Live to discuss his Kickstarter for his animated family series 'Our Heroes Rock!' that explores the heroes of Black History through hip-hop and science fiction.
- Big E, thank you for joining us. Just got to ask you, what is it like when you are in a contact sport in the middle of a pandemic?
ETTORE "BIG E" EWEN: It's unique for sure, especially with wrestling. One of the things that we really rely on is that live crowd. They're the barometer. They tell you if it's good or if it's bad, if they love you or they hate you, and now we don't have that. We have what we call the Thunderdome. And we're trying to get our fans on these screens. We have them virtually. But it's a lot different from what we're used to, for sure.
REGGIE WADE: Ettore, Reggie Wade here. You're known for doing your thing in the ring, but right now, you have a new initiative outside the ring called Our Heroes Rock! Could you tell us a little bit about it?
ETTORE "BIG E" EWEN: Yeah, it's something I'm extremely excited about. I'm working with my partners, Jonathan Davenport and Andreas Hale, and what we're doing is we're using science fiction, we're using animation, and we're using hip hop to tell the story of our heroes, black figures whose stories aren't told enough. And this Kickstarter is all about telling the story of Ruby Bridges. And I think one of the things that is difficult for people is when it feels pedantic or heavy or you're being beat over the head with it, you might not want to show up. But when it's fun and engaging, and we got Rapsody, who's a two-time Grammy nominee, she's going to help tell the story of Ruby Bridges. So we want this to be fun and engaging, and that's what this project is all about.
- Ettore, it's Shauna. What's been the response from the WWE, and I guess how supportive have they been in terms of side projects like this?
ETTORE "BIG E" EWEN: They've shown a lot of love for this. They've retweeted, and I've had a lot of my co-workers who reached out as well. You know, it's one of the things that I think they understand the importance of this. For me, it's really about teaching, it's about getting the word out. It's about helping to educate in a way, like I said, that feels engaging. So, they've, they've shown a lot of support and love for this.
REGGIE WADE: We've heard the comments from people that have said "shut up and dribble" or "stay in your lane" to try to keep people to really just stay pigeonholed in what they do. Is a part of this also to show that when you have a platform you should use it for good?
ETTORE "BIG E" EWEN: Oh, of course, man. I often think back to when we were kids, I remember the Charles Barkley "I am not a role model." And I think, whether you want to be or not, when you're in that position, when you have kids who watch you, it's important to show that you have a voice, that you're going to use it and that you're going to work to better our world. We have so many little kids! Our product is geared towards kids. So, who better than us to help reach out to those same kids. It's important, it really is.
- I was curious, in the project, did you speak with Ruby? Did she take part in it? Have you had a chance to talk with her?
ETTORE "BIG E" EWEN: We haven't yet, and that's something that we would love to do. But we've also gotten more immersed. I've been listening to her interviews and her podcast. The fact that she's still alive is wild! I think so many times you see, you see these black and white pictures, but this was 1960. She's younger than my mom. She's still around, so we'd love to at some point.
But I think it also drives home the point that these stories had-- they didn't happen 100, 200 years ago. They're so poignant. She was only six years old in 1960 when she integrated her school in New Orleans, so it's, uh, we'd love to get the opportunity for sure.
REGGIE WADE: Yeah, I want to know what kind of strategies are you taking from your life in the WWE to this new project, and are there things that you've done there that you're doing with this project?
ETTORE "BIG E" EWEN: Well, entertainment is what we do. So, that's one of the things that, you know, I'm trying to bring to this project too. But I have to give my hats off to my partners Andreas Hale and Jonathan Davenport, because they offer a different perspective. Jonathan Davenport is the illustrator, he's the one who's brought you these tremendous designs, and Andreas Hale is the writer, he's worked as an activist, he's worked in music, and he's perfect for this project. So I'm bringing my understanding of entertainment, but they've taught me a lot too about making a project like this, and we couldn't be more qualified, between the three of us, for sure.
- When you talk about getting more attention to this project, I'm curious if you've had any talks with schools just about getting some of these lessons into the schools, because that's so important. I think that's also where a big gap is right now across the country.
ETTORE "BIG E" EWEN: Completely. I've been so-- my heart has been warmed by the amount of teachers who have reached out and said, this is something we need. And our hope is to develop this as a proof of concept and to show people that this should be a series. So, that's kind of our focus now, and hopefully when we actually get this funded and get this made that we get this in front of teachers and to schools, because I think that's so important. I would have loved at the age of six or seven to have seen something like this that's fun and engaging and gets you to learn about these important figures.
REGGIE WADE: E, I was a former teacher so I'm right there with you. When kids are having fun, they learn more. What is the feedback you've been getting from some of the youngsters that have seen this first pilot episode?
ETTORE "BIG E" EWEN: Uh, you know, the pilot episode actually isn't constructed yet, but just seeing the images. I've had some people who showed their kids and their kids are excited. And it's really warmed my heart just to hear from my peers and to know that their kids had, you know, they were, they're percolating! And that's what we want more of, so the response has been really good from adults and kids. And we can't wait to get it made.
- All right, Reggie Wade, thank you as well. We wish you all the best, Ettore, Big E, you and WWE star, we're going to be right back after this.