Steve Harvey, From Dreams to Reality

Hard work and sacrifice are not new to Steve Harvey, he climbed to the top with hard work and perseverance


Twitter @FamilyFeud photo

Jonah Rauch, Writer

Steve Harvey was born on January 17, 1957, and first made the statement that he wanted to be on TV when he was 10 years old during an assignment where he was supposed to write down on a piece of paper what he wanted to be when he grew up. 

He wrote that he wanted to be on TV, and the teacher humiliated him for it, which made him feel devastated. 

Harvey came from a poor family and could not afford clothes for himself, so he wore hand-me-downs from his brother. He described it himself saying that his brother’s belt went around his waist twice. This was already humiliating enough for him, let alone his stuttering problem and his dream being shot down in front of the entire class by his own teacher. 

She asked, “Why would you write that on your paper?” 

He stuttered in response, “uauauaua.”

“You can’t even talk, and you want to be on TV? It’s never going to happen” she said.

Twitter @IAmSteveHarvey photo

After Harvey flunked out of school, he landed his first show biz job writing jokes for his buddies at a comedy club.

Harvey became homeless at 30- years-old in 1985 after going to a comedy club for the first time in his life to tell some of the jokes he had written for his friends.

He lived in his car for three years. Towards the end of this three year time period, Chuck Sutton, from the comedy show “Showtime at the Apollo” called him on the phone and told him that he saw some of the tapes from his night in the spotlight segments, and wanted him to fly out to New York to be put on TV. 

Harvey thought this was the end of his dream, considering he only had $35 dollars and no possible way to get to New York. This was rock bottom for him, because he saw that his dream of being on TV was slowly being stripped away, again.

Harvey was close to giving up on his dream forever, but instead he called Sutton back and said he would get to New York to take this opportunity. 

He also received a message from the owner of a comedy club in Jacksonville, Florida asking him to tell jokes for them the following day, which paid $150. Harvey figured he could use that money to travel to New York. 

Twitter @IAmSteveHarvey photo

He made it to Jacksonville and gave a performance that was much funnier than the guy that they had originally hired. They asked him to stay another night, since he was so well received by the audience and the producers. 

Harvey ultimately made $300 in a single night. He called Sutton and asked if he could go to the Apollo. Sutton said they got one opening left, Harvey said, “Book it.” 

He got to New York and met Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jamiee Foxx, and D.L. Hughley. Harvey realized his turn to tell jokes was at 11p.m., after Johnson, Foxx and Hughley finished their sets. . All three of them were booed off the stage, but Harvey’s joke about Mike Tyson had the crowd howling. 

Harvey received a standing ovation and earned $750 from the folks at Apollo Theater for his television appearance. He became the host of “The Showtime at The Apollo”, amatuer night, a few weeks after the previous host, Mark Currey, quit. 

From there, Harvey branched out and began creating TV shows of his own, starting with the “Steve Harvey” show in 1996. He eventually became the host of Family Feud, and from 2012 – 2017, he ran the Steve Harvey talk show, where he addressed  systematic racism. After this ended, he started a new show called “Steve,” which ended in 2019. Now he’s the host of a new show featuring a courtroom titled “Judge Steve Harvey,” which debuted in 2022. 

Harvey claims the best way to beat systematic racism is for people to learn to love one another. We do not need to march down the streets with picket signs smashing buildings and cars. He says we just need to understand and accept that we are all human, and if we can’t beat them, join them. Not once has he put somebody else in front of why he wasn’t happy while living in his car. Not once did he blame his shortcomings on anybody else. He took responsibility for himself and understood that he needed to make something happen in order to live his dream, despite being dealt the worst hand imaginable. 

Harvey never acted like a victim in any part of his life, nor did he allow his mind or emotions to hold him back, despite being humiliated, a college dropout, fired from multiple jobs, and even homeless. All of his willpower and grit paid off. 

In his own words, “There is no elevator to success, you need to take the stairs. 98% of people want to take the elevator.” 

 Harvey  said once on TV that he sends his old teacher flat-screen TV’s every Christmas, claiming that “little black boy with the stuttering problem, he all over that TV.”