Zeb Masongo

Justin Key

Zeb Masongo
Justin Key

“Nerd is the new black,” is one of the first things Justin Key mentioned during the conversation. In this period where black film, television, and entrepreneurship are having a resurgence, truer words have never been spoken.

Justin Key is an actor, mathematician, entrepreneur, and speaker. As well rounded as this is, it had to start somewhere. It started freshman year at an HBCU. 

While attending school, I was told that I could do everything I wanted to do. The only limits i had were the ones I put on myself. The community was supportive, and people actually believed in me.

Justin says he does a lot because he came from nothing, and wants to represent people who start at nothing. He wants them to know it’s possible. His experiences being mentored and doing mentoring have given him insight into how to be more of a leader and pass confidence and knowledge on to another generation. Graduating with a degree in mathematics, and having a career in the performing arts allow him to see the world different. “My background in STEM and mathematics lets me see patterns and sequences. I use this knowledge when I’m working on characters for my acting. I analyze and replicate. It’s like having a superpower. I see what works and what doesn’t work,” Justin says when commenting on how math influences his artistic side.

There is a wisdom when he speaks about mentoring the youth and creating a space for them to flourish. Students are often presented one side of STEM careers, and that causes them to not believe they can be creative and in STEM. Justin, during his work in mentoring, wants to end that stigma. 

I give a 360 view of STEM. I let students know there are careers in STEM that allow them to utilize their creativity. Students need to know the opportunities in STEM and how creative they can be.

All of Justins experiences in life have caused him to want to give back to the community. He recently started a program called Scholarship with Mentorship. Using this program, he will provide scholarships to students who qualify, and with every scholarship a mentor will also be provided. Mentors aren’t something Justin takes lightly.

Not everyone is meant to be a mentor. If they feel threatened by the mentee, then something isn’t right. They should want the mentee to do better than them. Anything else is wrong.

Justin seems to have a mantra and the mantra is simple. The world does not define your purpose; you define your own purpose. If the world can talk you out of it, that’s not on the world, it’s on you. Your talents and your intellect all combine to equal your purpose. So, if one of your talents isn’t being used, then you aren’t really living your purpose.