John Legend encourages young men and women to break stereotypes

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ten-time Grammy award winner John Legend paid a visit to a Columbus High School Tuesday to encourage students to talk about the meaning of masculinity.

AXE’s Find Your Magic Initiative celebrates and encouraging young teens to be who they want to be.

Legend says this message is really geared towards young men. However, he encourages all young adult men and women, to break stereotypes and embrace their true self. In his Senior Orientation message, there is no one way for a guy ‘ to be a man.’

“I think it is hard for guys to admit they are vulnerable or that they have questions or that they are trying to figure things out,” said Legend.

Through the program, created by AXE and masculinity expert, author and poet Carlos Andres Gomez along with Legend — mentored three Seniors from Centennial High School, Kitano Watkins, Aria Brent and Deiontay Bowie, for several weeks. Legend and Gomez talked to them about how to overcome toxic stereotypes.

The students performed a selection of poetry and songs about what being a man means to them.

Bowie tells his story of struggling without a father growing up and having to learn from others about what it means to be a man surrounded with every day peer pressure as a high school senior at the same time.

“I was kind of battling outside aspects of things in just myself in general so it’s been pretty difficult, but I am still trying to find myself,” said Bowie.

“I think a lot of what this conversation is about is allowing boys to have freedom to know that they don’t have all the answers yet that they can be emotional they can be vulnerable, they can have insecurities and try to work through them,” said Legend.

Growing up in Springfield, Ohio, Legend said he chose Columbus because it was close to his hometown.

This is the first time a conversation like this was geared towards high school students. Organizers hope to bring this mentoring program to other schools in the future. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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