Thursday, June 02, 2016

New Nickelodeon Show Reveals Cam Newton Is Afraid Of Snakes, But Not Afraid To Take Chances

Cam Newton is afraid of Snakes. Not just a little bit... A lot.

The reigning NFL MVP might be "Superman" on the football field, but in a swimming pool playing water polo, he's Clark Kent.

These are things viewers will learn about the Carolina Panthers quarterback when you watch his brand-new Nickelodeon television show, All in With Cam Newton, that premieres Friday at 8pm ET/PT on Nick USA.

These are things Newton learned about himself filming 20 episodes of the show, in which he pairs children ages 7 to 15 with mentors who can help them fulfill their dreams.

OK, Newton already knew he was afraid of snakes. His fear just was magnified for the world to see when the 6-foot-5, 260-pound athlete hid around the corner while an aspiring veterinarian - Soleil, standing less than 4 feet tall - held a Burmese python!

But the show reveals a side of Newton that goes beyond giving footballs to kids after touchdowns, that goes beyond showing disappointment after losing the Super Bowl.

It reveals a side that is humbled by his inability to dominate in everything as he has in football for much of his 27 years, a side that realizes he has a bigger purpose in life than throwing touchdown passes.

It reveals a side that shows Newton has fears just like everyone else.

"That's what life is all about, overcoming fears, overcoming things that make you uncomfortable, and do different things," Newton told as he discussed the series. "With this show, it forced me to do that, and I liked it."

Newton was the headliner for the show, showing the same goofy, playful and sometimes-cocky side one often sees on the field.

But the kids are the show's stars, beginning with the first episode when Newton helps Jackson become a meteorologist.

"That was the fun in it," Newton said. "Being around one child one day playing basketball ... and then being around another child who wanted to be a competitive cheerleader. That was different.

"Usually, I have people cheer for me."

Filming began in the Los Angeles area shortly after Carolina lost to Denver in Super Bowl 50. It didn't take away Newton's pain from the 24-10 defeat, but, as Newton said, "It didn't give me time to dwell on it."

"Talking with the kids as well as the parents, everybody saw it," Newton said of the Super Bowl. "And some of the kids didn't know anything about football, and we had better conversations because they didn't look at me like I was that type of athlete.

"With them it forced me to have a newfound respect over so many different professions that this world had to offer."

Newton spent countless hours in taping and production, often starting his day at 7am and wrapping up at 9pm. He also made time for workouts - sometimes late at night - not losing sight of being ready for offseason workout programs.

First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a Nickelodeon interview with fourth-grader Rosie Smolowitz and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton at the White House. Courtesy of White House

Last week, he spent the first half of the day practicing with the team in Charlotte, then flew to Washington to film a segment with First Lady Michelle Obama on the White House lawn.

To those who say the show was a distraction from football, Newton responds, "It wasn't."

"If anything it was a distraction from my time off," Newton said. "I had an unbelievable time viewing the world. I had opportunities to go to Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., different parts of California, being on the beach trying to learn how to surf ... it was just an eye-opening experience."

This also was an opportunity for Newton to use his influence to encourage kids in much the same way his own mentors did for him growing up.

"I constantly encourage them to go see the world and for them to think outside the box," Newton said. "This was a chance for me to think outside the box ... trying to have a big impact."

Newton says he doesn't have a favorite episode. The moments he cherished the most came off camera when he talked to the kids or their parents over lunch.

It was during those times that he learned the most about them, and sometimes himself.

One of Newton's favorite impromptu moments happened while driving to a shoot in the Charlotte area. Noticing some kids playing football on a middle school playground, Newton and a photographer stopped the car, jumped the fence and surprised them.

"It was as random as finding money on the ground," Newton said. "Then one kid was like, 'Oh, man! That's Cam Newton!' It was mayhem after that."

At one point the entire schoolyard of kids was dabbing - a Atlanta-based dance that Newton popularized last season which will be prevalent in the series.

That Newton did the show shouldn't come as a surprise. He said when entering the league as the first pick of the 2011 draft he wanted to be more than a football player, that he wanted to be an entertainer.

The show, which was being planned well before Newton's celebrity status skyrocketed during an MVP season, is another example that he's well on his way to achieving that.

So was the ESPN World Fame 100 list, released Wednesday. Newton, at No. 32, was the highest-rated NFL player among the 100 most famous athletes in the world.

"It's humbling," Newton said. "Like honest to God, it's extremely humbling. ... I came into this league trying to be the best football player that I could possibly be, and now with that comes a responsibility.

"Me being on TV, forcing me to understand who I am and what I bring to the table."

Newton's wish is that those watching the Nickelodeon show will see that he's not just a football player.

"Just a person who is very concerned about kids and having fun doing it," he said. "I had so much fun doing this show. You will see it."

Also, from USA Today's For The Win:

Cam Newton spent his offseason getting dabbed on by children. After a successful NFL season that ended on the sour note of a Super Bowl loss, he went straight to work for his new off-the-field job of hosting his own Nickelodeon show, All in with Cam Newton.

"It was, OK, Super Bowl, then after the Super Bowl a couple days off, and then straight to L.A. shooting and it was like fast, fast, fast, fast, fast. I had one prep day to go over outfit ... I'm real raw at being on a screen for so much outside of someone asking me questions," Newton said. "But after that, it was pretty much smooth sailing."

Newton spoke to For The Win over the phone about his show that premieres on Nickelodeon on Friday at 8 p.m. ET. Each episode, he helps kids achieve their dreams by pairing them with well-known mentors — such as Lisa Leslie, Michelle Obama or David Copperfield. But also with others who aren't household names such as a veterinarian, an animator or a weather woman. Additionally, he interacts with the kids and jokes around with them. He said every child dabbed on him at least once.

Ahead of the first announcement of the show that came in September under the original name I Wanna Be, Newton said he and his agent met with people at Nickelodeon to let them know he was interested in helping kids. He said it was one of his goals for the year - to "make an impact off the field."

"Oftentimes it's healthy for people to try to get away, but while I'm relevant, I want to maximize my words to giving back," Newton said. "This felt like me giving back to the community, but it wasn't necessarily my community as it was giving back to the younger generation."

Once shooting for the 20 episodes began, Newton said the only part that felt like work was the time management aspect. The most meaningful moments for him happened when the cameras weren't rolling.

"The thing that didn't get shown were the things that were more impactful than the show could ever show. Here I am taking a snack break with some of the kids and having some candid conversations just about what they like to do outside of the dreams they were passionate about from football to sports to books to movies, just different things," Newton said. "They didn't look at me like I was some Cam Newton the football player. I think some of the kids didn't even realize that by the time I got done with them. That's what made it so cool. It was real conversations, and it was real passion in talking about the things that we shared in common."

When asked to describe the premise of All in with Cam Newton in his own words, he started by saying, "Extremely fun, a laid back, something that hopefully each and every kid would enjoy," and he then he went into an explanation of how being involved with the show changed him.

"It allows me to become a better person. It allows me to become a better player because you know that kids are watching, but more importantly, it allows me to be a better parent with me just having a child, I understand some of the things that are taken so much from the parents and how they got the most out of their kids," Newton said. "Being a piano player, this person being a musician, and just try to learn different tips so one day my son or my kids will grow up and want to do something, whether it's football or not. I learned some things I will be able to apply to make him a better person."

Photo courtesy of Nickelodeon

Also, from Entertainment Weekly:

Cam Newton talks about his Nickelodeon show, meeting Michelle Obama, and someday directing
But did he get the First Lady to dab?

Cam Newton isn’t short on achievements. The Carolina Panthers quarterback and reigning NFL MVP may not have won the Super Bowl yet, but the man has already broken a host of longstanding league records — and he’s only 27. In a similar spirit, his new Nickelodeon show, All In with Cam Newton, which debuts tonight, seeks to unlock the potential of young kids who are looking to do as good — or maybe better! — than Newton in their respective fields.

We talked with Newton about the show, his own motivations growing up, and hanging out at the White House with Michelle Obama.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did this show come about?
CAM NEWTON: Well, there was an opportunity for me to talk to the people at Nickelodeon about some of the things I’m passionate about. So being around my marketing agent, I was telling him some of the things I really want to start being known for outside of football was having some kind of role in younger people’s lives. I grew up watching Nickelodeon and the cartoons on the network, and I was so excited to have the opportunity to talk about some of the things I wanted to potentially do, whether it was with them or not. And the fact that they were so into the idea was unbelievable.

I understand that in one episode, you got to take a young girl to the White House to sit down with Michelle Obama…
She wanted to be the President of the United States! We have a lot of kids that dream big, and there’s no doubt in my mind that all of them are capable of being the person they want to be. With meeting Michelle Obama, it was incredible — she is the person that everyone hypes her up to be. Very down to earth, very easy to talk to, very genuine. I was — for the first time in a long time, I was star-struck. Let’s just say that.

Michelle is a Chicago native. Did you guys talk about the Bears?
Nah, we didn’t talk about the Bears! We were really just talking about — I was asking her more questions about everyday life in the White House. Because I think you don’t really ever know [what that’s like], you know? And she was just pitching off facts. And I’ve done a lot of work with Michelle Obama over the years, especially with her inititative to give back with the Healthy America campaign. So it was great to finally meet her and put a face to many emails and things from her.

Did you get her to dab?
[Laughs] She has some dance moves, now! No, but… that was probably one of the most impressive things, seeing how down to earth she is.

How did the kid do around the First Lady?
Oh, she was great! She handled herself like a pro. I think she handled herself better than I did! [Laughs] Above all, that’s what it’s all about: to see kids’ lives become better because they dreamed about something and it actually came to fruition. And to not stop dreaming after the episode goes off, but instead giving them the extra boost [to keep going]. It’s like: “You know, this is something I’ve been doing since I was X-Y-Z at this age, and I’m still going to continue to do it.” People don’t realize I’ve been playing football since I was seven years old. And everybody looks at success nowadays like, “Well, he just got lucky, or this or that.” But the kids that I came across ranged from 7 to 15 years old, and every time, they’d been doing what their passion was for 4 to 5 years and were committed to their craft. That was inspiring to me, to see kids have that much dedication to the things that they like to do.

Do you see yourself doing more TV work in the future?
I really do. But not more so me being actually on the screen. I’m very intrigued about making things come to life, and showing the artistic side to myself. And I don’t necessarily have to be on TV to show that. I have different ideas that I like and love that are intriguing to me, and hopefully I’ll get other opportunities to do some more things with TV.

So you’re interested in maybe directing or producing something?
Of course, yes.

So obviously you’ve been an athlete for most of your life. But was there anything else you dreamt about being when you were the same age as these kids you’re working with?
Yes, I mean… there was a lot of things that I wanted to do. But as you grow up, there are things where you realize that that’s not your shiniest coin. You have dreams and ambitions to do certain things. I can remember — and I tell this story often — me being in tears telling someone that I really wanted to be a football player. And just the percentages of a person becoming a professional athlete is extremely low, and I understood that. But I wanted them to know that I was going to be a football player by hell or high water.

Have your teammates seen the show yet? Or do you think they’ll check it out once it’s out?
No, I don’t think nobody’s necessarily checked it out [yet]. But I think a lot of people will be impressed, because it shows a different side of who I really am. I’m not saying that a lot of people don’t necessarily know, but it’s kind of different. You know, in my field, if you’re on TV, you’re probably talking about football. And that’s one of the main things I want to go upstream from. It’s like every time I see a person talk or be introduced as, “Here he is, a football person” — they’re doing something on ESPN or NFL Network and talking about football. I don’t necessarily want to go that approach. I don’t have nothing against that, but I just have more of a passion for the younger generation and kids. I feel like there’s a lot of kids on the show who are more mature than I was [at that age].

All In with Cam Newton premieres Friday, June 3 at 8 p.m. ET on Nickelodeon.

Also check out: Cam Newton on Helping Kids Pursue Their Dreams on His New TV Show: 'If I Can Do It, Anybody Can'
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