20 minutes with: comedian, actor and winemaker Cedric the Entertainer

Cedric the Entertainer has earned his place among America’s most popular comedians. The St. Louis native, 58, has enjoyed a long and versatile career in the entertainment industry, having worked regularly as an actor, stand-up comedian and game show host. He currently stars on the CBS sitcom The neighborhoodand in 2019 received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Recently, Cedric (born Cedric Antonio Kyles) added another title to his repertoire: winemaker.

Her debut album, Zetta Napa Valley Red, was inspired by her late mother, Rosetta (Zetta) Boyce Kyles, who was an educator and reading specialist for over 30 years. Ten percent of all proceeds from 2018 Red Blend sales (SRP $64) will be donated to RedRoseReads, a foundation supporting literacy programs across the United States. The reception has been overwhelmingly positive, with Zetta receiving a gold medal and 100 points at the 2022 Los Angeles Invitational Wine Challenge.

” I like wine. I have been drinking wine for many years. I love Pinot Noir, full-bodied and fruity Cabernet and Russian River Valley Zinfandels,” says Cédric. “I wanted to create a flavor profile that I thought was accessible to people, that felt familiar, yet delicious and sophisticated.”

To produce the wine, Cedric partnered with Smith Devereux Wines, a sustainable Napa Valley winery founded by winemaker Ian Devereux White nearly a decade ago. The boutique operation produces limited-edition philanthropic wines featuring artists and celebrities, supporting a variety of charities and foundations.

“Ian and I were introduced by a mutual business partner, who thought our attitudes would mix. I happened to be going to Napa on other business, called Ian and met him at the vineyard – just us. We decided to embark on this adventure together,” says Cédric.

Cédric, who has three children and lives with his wife in Los Angeles, recently spoke with penta about wine, lessons learned from the pandemic and the changing nature of stand-up comedy.

SLOPE: What have been your main lessons from the pandemic?

Cédric the Animator: I think the bottom line is… life doesn’t really push us anywhere. We’ve learned that if we slow down and allow ourselves time – to talk, reflect, grow, and not be rushed – you can actually get to know the people who are there with you.

As a man over 50, I have learned that there is still room to grow – sometimes it feels like your life has already been summed up. In the past few years, when things seemed to be at their most closed, I was most excited. Go out and get it, build and be creative, and do more in life – it’s something I encourage people to do. Live life to the full. Don’t leave anything on the table. Draw, read, travel. And if you want to make wine, make wine.

How has your perspective changed now that you are involved in winemaking?

Like most people, I drink wine just for fun. I had no idea I wanted to make wine, but I’ve spent time in Napa for the past two years and visited some wonderful wineries. There you get an interesting perspective of people who love grapes, harvest time and planting time, and they have great admiration for the whole process. So when you hear these people talk about wine, you develop a different appreciation.

It was during this period that I started to think of wine as a place where I can eventually do business. And then once I met Ian Devereux, it became a lot more real. He had a very personal way of explaining why giving someone a glass of wine is so important. It corresponded to what I like in life: pleasure, friendship, laughter, being together, enjoying a good meal. It was one of those things where it made sense to me and we dove into it.

What are you most excited about as you have made your way through the industry?

In the past, when you looked at the world of wine, you didn’t see a lot of black or minority families, but recently that has changed. DLynn Proctor is a great sum I know, and Brown Estate [Napa’s first Black-owned estate winery, est. 1996] grows. You also see Dwyane Wade, Mary J. Blige, E-40 – these are people who have celebrity brands, but I know they love their wines and are involved in the process.

I also love this new type of growth of young black millennials who are interested in wine, and not just on the winemaking side but also on the somms and bloggers – I’ve met a lot of cool people who do really cool blogs and IG Stories, and that’s something I wouldn’t have noticed if I wasn’t in the wine business. I am happy to see that the world of wine is opening up and expanding thanks to these new young voices. It’s something I encourage now, that it’s not just left to the pretentious who think wine is only for the rich. It’s an experience you can have and enjoy with friends in the backyard.

Have you noticed any changes in live audiences over the past two years?

We’ve had the experience in our business – the ideology that people have the right to come on stage and be part of the performance in a physical way that goes beyond professionalism. So it’s something that needs to be reduced and controlled, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone to come see me – I’m so St. Louis.

Back to decorum in general. I want people to be cordial and good citizens. Enjoy your friends and family and let the professionals be the professionals. If you don’t like a show, then get up and leave, but don’t upset others who have spent their money. It’s not just your world. There are other people who get the joke.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

About Mary Moser

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