Program Note: Don't miss Steve Perry's conversation with Sean Combs tonight on AC360° at 11 p.m. ET.
CNN Education Contributor
I don't know P. Diddy. The barking, brash hip hop mogul and I have never met. In fact, when we started I told him that I don't know what to call him because the person I've gotten to know is Sean Combs.
Sean wanted to make sure that he answered my questions right. He was humble, warm and engaging. He sat down and had more questions than answers. His tones were hushed and polite. The only sign of the pyrotechnic backdrop of Sean "P. Diddy" Combs was when an actual lion was wheeled into a nearby room in the LA location of the shoot. Only the majesty of the king of the forest could break the concentration of the king of hip hop as he made sure that he answered all of my questions correctly.
Sean Combs is a man who is acutely aware of the way people see him. He decided to do this interview knowing that I was going to push him. He and I recently met at an engagement party. He told me he respected my work and I told him I felt the same way. Unsure if my response was simply an obligatory retort, he said, "I'm serious." To make his point, he pulled me aside and told me something that he said nobody would believe.
When Sean Combs agreed to this interview he knew I was going to expose what he'd shared with me and still he gave me no parameters. So I pushed and he responded. I peppered him with questions about his responsibility for the current image of Black people and he answered. I pressed him about how he can go from Diddy to daddy and he didn't flinch. I even asked him why he was relevant in a discussion that involves our children and he answered every single question.
I felt like I was talking to a man at a crossroads, a man no different than many I meet. These are men who know that people are suffering and that they must do something. The issue these men face is discovering what it is that they are supposed to do.
What you will see is what I saw, a regular dude. My goal was to introduce a man who many feel they already know. I wanted to let the viewers in on the phone conversations that he and I have had in which he is curious and compassionate. I'm not a journalist and this is not an interview. I am a social worker. This is an intimate discussion.
What you will see tonight is a portrait of a man who happens to be rich, famous and talented. I will reveal what you would have heard if you were at that party, on the phone calls that followed or if I let you read my texts. What you will see is a conversation between two men. You will meet is Sean Combs. What you will learn is what he sees as his purpose.
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