10 Questions for T.J. Holmes
7 months ago
The 'Don't Sleep' host talks his show, his baby on the way, and Obama.
Journalist T.J. Holmes is ending 2012 with a bang. After five years as an anchor and correspondent on CNN, Holmes took a self-described "leap of faith" and inked a deal with BET for his own talk show. The daily, late night series "Don't Sleep!" debuted last month, but to bittersweet critique—audiences weren't satisfied with its half-hour format. In response to his fans' demands, the network has since changed the series to air once a week for a full 60 minutes, allowing Holmes to "expand and focus" in a way that could truly benefit his audience. All this, and the host is expecting a baby, too! Holmes recently made time to talk to Loop21 about his new roles as a talk show host and father, the positives and pressures both can bring, and what he does to, deservedly, relax.
Loop 21: What can you achieve with the new format of "Don't Sleep" that you weren't able to before?
T.J. Holmes: It'll allow us to delve into topics deeper. The No. 1 comment we got from everyone—it was overwhelming and consistent—was the show was too short. We felt rushed. I was trying to get through a conversation and, you could tell on the TV, it felt awkward. Things got cut off and it didn't give you time to breathe. It'll also allow us to travel. We were hunkered down. It is a grind doing a daily show; you can't go anywhere because you don't have time for it. Now, we can literally go to other cities and communities and talk to people who are actually being affected by the issues we're covering.
Loop 21: Do you feel pressure to cover all-Black news?
T.J.H.: No doubt there's pressure and you're damn right it's a responsibility, but I wouldn't call it a burden. I'm blessed. If we don't get this right, it might be a long time before we ever have a show like this again on TV, but I never took on the role that I was going to speak for this network. No matter what, BET has tens of millions of homes that they reach in this country, so it just makes sense for a show like this to be on their network. It doesn't have to be news about Black people, but it has to be a story that's relevant to Black people. Taking on the prison-industrial complex on night one of the show—that's something you hear about here and there but we want to tell them a story in a way that they haven't heard before like, 'You know what? Actually, there are more Black men in college than there are in prison, don't believe that urban myth.'