Sinking his teeth into downtown Las Vegas hasn’t been a problem for recent transplant Akil Evans, current host of the Downtown Podcast. Our paths crossed recently at Vegas Cut + Sew, a fashion runway event held at Zappos, in which he was invited to emcee. It is our pleasure to introduce him as the first of the Dapper Dirty Dozen, a group of 12 gentlemen chosen by menswear designer Derek Smoot to represent his brand in 2016.
1. What brought you to Las Vegas?
I came to Las Vegas for opportunity! When I first moved to Las Vegas, I had an interview with Zappos. Yet, I was not selected at the time and received it as an opportunity to pursue my passion as a public speaker. I am in Las Vegas to devote my talents to promoting individuals, start-ups, established organizations, and Vegas Culture!
2. How did you get connected with the Downtown Podcast and how has your experience been working there?
I was still quite new to Downtown Las Vegas when I heard of the late night television show, The Downtown Podcast. My friends started suggesting I attend a live studio recording of the Downtown Podcast when I revealed I was looking for public speaking opportunities. I decided to devote my time and talents to the show because I soon realized it is more than a show. The Podcast is a lifestyle to make an impact on the perception of Las Vegas by highlighting, fun, intelligent, and creative people. We are a community-focused non-profit delivering content to inform, entertain and inspire! Before I came to Las Vegas last year, I thought it was nothing but ‘Sin City’ but the Downtown Podcast revealed that there is so much culture, opportunity, and community in Downtown Las Vegas!
3. Can you tell us a bit about how your found your calling as a public speaker?
I discovered my calling to be a public speaker, specifically a motivational speaker, my senior year of high school. I didn’t know what to study going in to college and read various books suggesting how to choose your major based on your skills and interests. I recognized that I was welcome nearly everywhere I went and people like to talk to me as much as they enjoyed listening to me. I was inspired to become a public speaker especially by my youth pastor and my high school health teacher because they believed in me and inspired me to stay authentic and strive for success.
4. You recently visited Japan, what was that like and can you tell us about your meeting with the Wise Dragon? How has that impacted your life thus far?
Visiting Japan was a dream come true! Ever since I was gifted a Nintendo 64 as a kid I desired to visit Tokyo, Japan. My interest in Japanese culture grew further in high school when I became friends with Shin, a Japanese American peer and soccer teammate. On my first day as a freshman in college I went to the study abroad office and attempted to study abroad that same year. I decided I would study abroad at Sophia University in Tokyo, the same University in which Shin studied. I was surprised, but not discouraged to learn that I would have to wait three years to study abroad in Tokyo and had to study Japanese language and culture in the meantime.
As I begin to master the language, my confidence that I would make my dream come true began to grow. However, when Shin would return to America for holidays and I would tell him I was coming to visit him in Japan he didn’t seem to believe me. I tried not to take it personally and thought of all our other friends who expressed interest in visiting him but didn’t follow through. I don’t think Shin truly believed me until I ran into him on campus during a tour with other study abroad students!
The Wise Dragon is a metaphor I use to stress the importance of faith and to believe in yourself when others doubt you and you can’t see it happening yourself. There are those that only believe that what they can see is what exists, they don’t believe in dragons and call them myths, but every time you see me there is a dragon in your midst! Everyday I am reminded of Japan and reminded that dreams come true with discipline.
5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In the next 5 years, I see myself taking the Downtown Podcast to different mediums such as Netflix, Hulu or broadcasting networks, thus increasing the Downtown Podcast team’s income. In the same way, I will be a youth pastor at the new Downtown Faith Church currently being established in DTLV. Still, I am most excited to be traveling for speaking engagements at universities, businesses, and other organizations as motivational speaker in 5 years.
Photos by Zach Reininger