MSU alumnus AJ Troup wrote and performed a monologue to highlight Black dads for Father’s Day, which also falls on Juneteenth this year.
Troup is an actor in Los Angeles. Aside from his work on commercial and independent projects, Troup is married and newly a father to a baby boy named Shiloh. He created this project to explore his relationship with his absentee father.
“I kind of did it at first just therapeutically just to knock down the wall that I had built up from my childhood and ask him the questions that I would ask him or confront him about the things I would confront him about if I were given the chance to see him face-to-face,” Troup said.
His film is titled “If Given The Chance” and he was inspired to release it on June 19 to commemorate Black fathers while sharing his personal story. He started writing the monologue about a year ago and after taking a break for a while, he came back to it when he had the time and resources to put the film together.
“I think (Black fathers) just get such a bad rap of not being present and not being there for our kin,” Troup said. “I think that’s just a misconception and a stereotype that’s outdated. That’s my story, I want to highlight that that’s not the case, that’s not the normal.”
After graduating from MSU in 2015 with an advertising major, Troup moved to California in hopes of pursuing a career in entertainment. He’s appeared in advertisements for Domino’s, RumChata, McDonald’s and TV shows like “Pam and Tommy” on Hulu and “Obi-Wan Kenobi” on Disney Plus.
Troup played football at MSU and although his father wasn’t present in his life, he appreciated his coaches who served as Black male role models.
“Michigan State was everything in building the network that I have today and my brotherhood on the football team,” Troup said. “Education is power and to be at Michigan State gave me that power to get an education and really thrive to where I am today.”
To Troup, Juneteenth is a time to celebrate freedom, education and achievement.
“Being a Black man in America myself who has a college degree and being a new father, I think it’s everything,” Troup said. “We just have to be grateful and hold our heads high and look at all we’ve been able to achieve and all the things that we can achieve here in the near future as Black men, as Black fathers.”
Troup said as a new father himself, Father’s Day has a whole new meaning. His son Shiloh will be 12 weeks old on Father’s Day.
“Juneteenth is the liberation — I’ve been liberated through this holiday now by my son,” Troup said.
Troup hopes his monologue inspires all current and future fathers to be present in their child’s life. He also hopes audiences who might not be able to relate to him will form an understanding of what it’s like for a person of color to grow up without a father figure.
“I like to think that I grew up OK without a father, but maybe it would’ve been a lot easier to get through some things having that male role model around,” Troup said. “I hope everybody’s able to gravitate towards it and pull something from it.”
Troup said as Shiloh’s father, he hopes to give him everything he didn’t have growing up.
“Being a father is everything I hoped it would be and more,” Troup said. “Every single day is different. It’s beautiful. He’s looking different every single day, he’s doing new things every single day, and I find myself in awe that I get to be his father. I feel really, really blessed.”
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