From left: Roy Wood Jr., Meagan Good, Taja V. Simpson and Craig Melvin.
HuffPost Illustration
From left: Roy Wood Jr., Meagan Good, Taja V. Simpson and Craig Melvin.

19 Celebrities On The Advice They Would Give Their Teenage Selves

Meagan Good, Megan Thee Stallion, Roy Wood Jr. and other Black stars have some words of wisdom for today’s youth.


“Hrs and Hrs” singer Muni Long isn’t the only one who wishes she had a time machine.

HuffPost is dedicating a significant part of this Black History Month to telling Black teens’ stories through our latest project, “America, As Told By Black Teens.” As a companion to the series, we spoke with notable stars about what advice they would give their teenage selves if they could, and the wisdom they’d like to impart on teens today.

Actor and director Tasha Smith would say be patient. “Da 5 Bloods” actor Clarke Peters would suggest listening more. And “Abbott Elementary” star and creator Quinta Brunson said she’d tell her younger self she’s killing it. A few celebrities even sent in some nostalgic photos.

Take a look at some of their advice below.


Meagan Good, actor (“Harlem,” “Think Like A Man,” “Cousin Skeeter”)

If I could go back and have a conversation with teenage Meagan, the advice that I would give her would be: Don’t try to please people, please God. When you focus on Him first, everything else falls in place the way it’s supposed to. That pursuit becomes an outpour of action and lifestyle.

Courtesy of Meagan Good

Quinta Brunson, writer, producer, actor (“Abbott Elementary”)

My advice would be to practice your craft. I think that comedy and comedic writing — it’s all a craft. It takes studying, it takes practice, And that’s what I did. I was fortunate enough to start realizing early on that this is a craft. It’s equal parts talent and craft, harnessing what heightens your talent and how to do this work.

Then, I always tell people to take it easy on themselves. We are in a pandemic. I can’t imagine what younger people might be going through now. You’re living in a whole different world. Your relationship to work is also different. Coming out of college for me, we just had a different relationship to work and capitalism and materialism. All of it was different. It was a little bit more romantic. I feel like for you guys, the veil is a little bit lifted and you have a little bit more authority on what kind of world you want to live in, what kind of work you want to do in your relationship to how much you will work. I think that’s a good thing. I think you have to take that into account that your journeys may look different for some of the people like me. It’s just going to be different, so you kind of got to take it easy and go day by day.


Kyla Pratt, actor (“The Proud Family,” “Call Me Kat,” “One On One”)

I think teenage Kyla really had a lot of things together. She didn’t really question herself too much. I think I was more involved with being busy and working and having fun. I think late teens, maybe going into early 20s, was a time that I was having kids, I was overthinking, I was worried about things. I would go back and tell that Kyla to stop, don’t worry so much. What’s meant for you is meant for you, and everything’s going to be OK. You’re going to be a wonderful mother. You’re going to continue to be in this industry and create and develop characters. It’s going to be fine. Don’t worry, just live and enjoy. And don’t compare yourself. Just have fun and live life.

Frederick M. Brown via Getty Images

Megan Thee Stallion, Grammy Award-winning rapper

I would tell my teenage self to keep doing exactly what you doing and keep loving on yourself because it definitely pays off as an adult. You are Megan Thee Stallion now. So keep being you.


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, NBA legend, documentary narrator and executive producer (“Black Patriots: Heroes of the Civil War”)

I have been asked this question often and my answer changes each time because sometimes I think there’s a lot to tell that younger self, and other times I think he’d be better off just figuring things out on his own. Today, though, I’m in the advising mood so I’d tell him this: Don’t expect justice, fairness and equality to happen overnight — or even over decades. It is a longer and harder journey than you imagined, but because you joined in by adding your shoulder to the task, you’ve helped push that rock further up the hill. You won’t see the top of the hill in your lifetime, but you’ve helped take us all closer.

Bettmann via Getty Images

Roy Wood Jr., comedian (“The Daily Show”)

I would tell myself that the worth of my dreams is not defined by other people’s opinions of my dreams. You cannot be afraid to take chances and chase the things that you are passionate about. Also, do everything in your power to find other passionate people, even if those people are not in the same career path as you.

Courtesy of Roy Wood Jr.

Carla Hall, chef

Something that many people don’t know about me is that I’m borderline introvert-extrovert. When I was younger, I was painfully shy until I found myself interested in theater. From 12 to 17 years old, I happily basked in the freedom that theater seemed to offer me as it brought out more of my extroverted side. However, if I could have a conversation with my teenage self, I would tell her not to run away from her introverted side. The introvert and extrovert are two sides of a whole, and both make a complete and authentic Carla.


Craig Melvin, “Today” show co-host

Despite all the anxiety and all of the naysayers, in the end it will be OK. In fact, there’s a good chance it will be better than OK.

Courtesy of Craig Melvin

Tia Mowry, actor (“Family Reunion,” “The Game,” “Sister, Sister”)

1. Don’t worry, God’s got you! Everything truly happens for a reason. You may not understand it now, but eventually it will all be revealed, and it will be for the better.

2. Your current situation does not determine what your future will be. Continue to be steadfast and believe in yourself, for you will always be your biggest supporter.

3. Do not let others define who you are and your happiness. True peace and happiness come from living in your authenticity.

ABC Photo Archives via Getty Images

Tasha Smith, actor, director, producer (“Empire,” “Why Did I Get Married?”)

Be patient, Tasha. Be patient with the inevitable process to success. Don’t grow weary, for in due season, you will reap the blessings God has for you.

I say the above, painfully aware of how pursuing one’s goals at a young, vulnerable age can be both euphoric and also soul-crushing all at once. Keep holding on, young folks. Be kind to yourself on the journey. Love yourself through the process. It gets better. I promise it does.

Courtesy of Tasha Smith

Cassandra Freeman, actor (“Bel-Air,” “Inside Man”)

Your sensitivity is a gift. It was never a flaw or burden. Your sensitivity is a gift, and it’s meant to lead you. The other thing I would tell you is to ask for help. Let people know what you’re going through. And I feel like that’s what young people need to hear in general. Pick one person, at least, and let more people know what you’re going through. I think my teenage issues would’ve been much easier if I had reached out to adults and older people who could have helped my way.


Chad L. Coleman, actor (“The Wire”)

Keep chasing your dreams no matter what. And get to know yourself fully and absolutely. Take care of your trauma before it does a number on you. That’s real self-love and it can only come from you!

Courtesy of Chad Coleman

Skylan Brooks, actor (“Outsiders,” “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete”)

If I could go back, I’d tell my younger self this: Don’t let your surroundings discourage you into believing that it’s hopeless to try, or just give up. If anything, use it as a reason to find enjoyment in any positive outlet, whenever you get a chance to.

Rodrigo Vaz/FilmMagic via Getty Images

Taja V. Simpson, actor (“The Oval”)

I would tell my younger self to be proud of who you are and what you look like. Don’t worry about what people say about you or to you. Just focus on your desires and your dreams WILL come to you.

Repeat after me: I AM ENOUGH. I AM WORTHY. I AM CAPABLE. I CAN DO ANYTHING. Everything always works out for me … and so it is.

Courtesy of Taja V. Simpson

Angela Lewis, actor (“Snowfall”)

You know what you know. Say it loud. It’s OK to be wrong and it’s OK to mess up. Keep writing every day. You don’t need to stuff that down. You are not alone. You are allowed to say no. Do you, no matter what or who. The other is waiting in the wings. You don’t need to get rid of it, just put fear in the back seat. Live in your power. You don’t have to know it all, just start. The light comes from within. You are enough.

Courtesy of Angela Lewis

Emile Ennis Jr., TV host

If I could go back and talk to my teenage self, I would tell him that everything you are going through right now is going to help you grow into such a strong and determined person. However, here are a few things that I really want you to pay attention to:

1. You have to stop overthinking everything. Success is preparation meets opportunity. So if you are prepared, then let the universe bring you the opportunity.

2. Don’t worry about what others think. Ultimately you have to live your life, not them.

3. Live in your authentic truth. That is what matters. Living for others, trying to be someone you’re not and trying to create an image of yourself that pleases everybody else is doing more harm than good. You are loved. And when you do get the courage to reveal your truth, you will have a weight lifted that you can’t even imagine. The world needs YOU, the real you.

4. I’m so proud of you for pushing through and can’t wait for you to see what’s in store in the future.

Courtesy of Emile Ennis Jr.

Clarke Peters, actor (“Da 5 Bloods,” “The Wire”)

1. The meditation you’re exploring will serve you well in years to come, if not sooner. It is not a romantic Eastern notion that only the yogis you read about exercise. It is a very real tool that will develop the more you practice it. It is a tool that needs to be honed daily. Try to get into a habit of using it.

2. Trust yourself. Don’t always follow the crowd when something is pulling you in the opposite direction. Listen to that inner voice — not blindly, but with awareness. It may guide you where you want to go sooner than later.

3. Consider that the “way out” ideas you have, that you see realized by someone else, are your lost opportunities. Life is telling you something. Listen. DON’T LET TOO MANY OF THEM SLIP BY YOU. And don’t wait too long before chasing a dream.

4. Finish what you start.

5. Don’t always try to be the smartest one in the room. You might learn something. Listen, listen, listen, don’t just hear.

6. It’s OK for a girl to be a friend and not a conquest. You’ll be a happier man with more of them in your life as friends than bitter ex-lovers.

7. Think about your parents and where they were in their life cycle when they had you. Think about your grandparents when they gave birth to your parents. Now, consider the worlds they were born into. Why? Because it may help you to understand the world as it is now.


Glynn Turman, actor (“A Different World,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)

Cherish the time spent with your elders. ’Cause you can’t get that time back.

Courtesy of Glynn Turman

Karen Malina White, actor (“The Proud Family,” “Lean On Me”)

Dear Karen,

I know you are about to graduate from your performing arts high school and you are fretting about your wish to pursue acting as a career. Wondering if you should major in acting at Howard University or if you should major in accounting, something sensible and reliable.

I think the advice your English teacher Ms. Carolyn Pritchett gave you about your being more than talented enough to be a successful actor is right on point. Prophetic, actually. Because you will develop and hone your talent with a vengeance at Howard, where you will be nurtured and given many opportunities to play all kinds of roles. You will be lauded for the work you do. You will find that you enjoy both comedic and dramatic roles equally and tackle them both with equal ferocity. You will be crowned Miss Howard University and appear in Ebony Magazine in your senior year. Your parents and your family will be so proud.You will be forever proud of yourself for fighting the good fight and never giving up on yourself. Never letting shame or pride win over you. You will learn that your self-worth is not about your career, but about the caring and compassionate human being you truly are.

You will start practicing Nichiren Buddhism with the Soka Gakkai International, a grassroots organization for peace, culture and education, and it is from that practice that you [will] find your true self and become absolutely happy serving your fellow man. You are an amazing Black girl from the projects of South Philadelphia, and look at all you’re going to accomplish! And that’s just a tip of the iceberg. We have so much more to do. Thank you for being courageous and going for your dreams despite the fear of the unknowing. And girlfriend, don’t fret. You got this! Leap and the net will appear, I promise you!

Courtesy of Karen Malina White