Antwan “Amadeus” Thompson, the record producer and CEO of Platinum Boy Music, stopped by Olney Charter High School on Wednesday to tell students about the importance of hard work and dedication to achieving their dreams.
Thompson, who has worked with music superstars such as Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, and 50 Cent, encouraged the 100-plus students in attendance to follow their passions no matter life’s circumstances.
“I grew up in a very tough neighborhood – so rough my parents didn’t allow me to go outside,” said Thompson, who grew up in the Bronx.
More than 90 percent of the enrollees at Olney Charter High School, in Northeast Philadelphia, are students of color and 67 percent are economically disadvantaged, according to the school's Pennsylvania School Performance Profile.
Thompson said he attended a music-focused school, where he was surrounded by influential teachers from a young age.
“At 16, I decided to pursue music with all I had,” he said. “A year later, I produced my first soundtrack for a movie.”
Philadelphia has been a popular destination recently for music industry guest speakers. Rappers Meek Mill and Ice Cube stopped by the District recently, and Bryshere Gray, an actor and rapper on the TV show Empire spoke at Girard College this week.
Jennifer Nieves, community outreach coordinator at Olney Charter High School, said she believed Thompson could relate to the students well. “We wanted to bring someone in who could really motivate the students, because he understands the urban setting and the background of these kids,” she said.
“He has been on reality shows and is active with his music. We wanted him to show the kids the hard work that goes on in the background.”
Thompson encouraged students to pursue their dreams and shrug off naysayers.
“There’s no difference between me and you,” he told the students. “Everything I have, I made with my own hands. When I told my people my dreams, they laughed. I’m sure they do the same thing to you.
“There’s no reason you can’t be great. The moment you recognize and believe that, everything else is fine.”