Husbands of Hollywood star Kevin Hart is featured in the December 2016/January 2017 issue of Fast Company.
“I’m giving you 100%,” Kevin Hart says with commitment, settling into a chair in a conference room inside his new 18,000-square-foot Los Angeles production studio. “When I sit down for an interview, that’s what I do. I give 100% of my energy.”
Within three minutes, he’s talking on the phone.
The 100% is there—just in short bursts. “I like to multitask,” he says, smiling at the understatement. “But I got it all under control.”
Hart is in Los Angeles on a one-week break from the set of Jumanji, a remake of the 1995 fantasy adventure that he and costar Dwayne Johnson are filming in Hawaii. There’s a lot to cram in—most notably the L.A. premiere of What Now?, a film documenting the Philadelphia stop on his hugely successful comedy tour. Hart’s stand-up show sold out New York’s Madison Square Garden in July 2015, something few comic acts have ever done, and earned $1 million in a single night in L.A. (A behind-the-scenes special of the tour on TBS promoted the film’s release.) But right now, on this October afternoon, he is most focused on his immediate surroundings. Hart purchased these soundstages—located on a nondescript strip of the San Fernando Valley—in August, and they’re about to be transformed into the creative center of Hartbeat Productions and Hartbeat Digital, the two pillars of his fast-growing eight-year-old entertainment empire.
“I want to shoot everything here,” he says. “TV shows, miniseries, digital. I want to build a real studio so that I can make and distribute my own movies.”
The last time anyone in Hollywood tried that—at least on the scale Hart seems to be contemplating—they had names like Goldwyn and Warner. Or at least names like Oprah, who recently shut down her Chicago soundstages and moved her OWN TV network to L.A., and Tyler Perry, who makes and distributes his Madea movies and other content through his studio in Atlanta. Hart considers Winfrey and Perry role models, although he doesn’t believe in limiting himself to what others have done before. He’s already the most successful comedian in the world, with an annual income Forbes estimates at $87.5 million, and one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood (his last three films, Ride Along 2, Central Intelligence, and The Secret Life of Pets, grossed a combined total of $584 million). He’s forged multimillion-dollar endorsement deals with retailers including Nike and H&M, developed TV shows for Comedy Central and other networks, and accrued a devoted fan base of nearly 100 million followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram combined.
Hart realizes he may have some control issues, but he’s okay with that. Happy, even. The endless decisions are what it’s all about. “Once you’ve accomplished a goal, you’re all done,” he says. “And I don’t ever want to be all done.” Hart settles into a recliner for the half-hour drive to his home in Tarzana. Then he takes another phone call.
Husbands of Hollywood airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on BET.
Photo Credit: Williams + Hirakawa for Fast Company