Meet Slice’s newest Board Member RJ Temple. He has been a hosted Slice Member for several years and he is also Slice’s newest partner with Creative Quest Foundation, which focuses on increasing diversity and inclusion in the themed entertainment industry!
Interview conducted in August 2019
How did you get into the themed entertainment industry?
Honestly, I was in the themed entertainment industry for over 20 years and didn’t even know it. All I knew was music and theater before moving to Orlando, so the term itself was entirely new. However, I started my career as a musician. I play numerous instruments, but also had a love for acting and live shows. After graduating from Georgia Southern University with a BA in Music (minor in Fashion Design) and a Master from Berklee College of Music for Audio Production, I wanted to find a new way I can teach kids music.
Being a fan of the Muppets, I thought puppetry was a great outlet. One show led to developing numerous touring shows with an original series filled with over 50 characters, 6 music soundtracks, and 12 stage plays called Jerry & The UpBeats. From there, it was like my career turned into a layer of opportunities in creative and administration for companies like Universal Creative, Nickelodeon, and The Walt Disney Company.
What was your favorite thing to do as a kid?
Believe it or not, it was always music. I started playing the drums when I was 5, so that became my lifestyle early on. Beyond music, I’m really into basketball, bowling, and making up songs about anything. I feel like I wrote more songs about random things than actually doing homework lol.
Where are you from?
I’m from Savannah GA., born and raised. I moved to Orlando in 2014.
Tell us about your family.
I come from a family of educators and ministers. My dad Ricky Temple Sr. is a pastor and my mom Diane Temple is a singer/administrator. They’ve been married over 38 years! I have one sister Christina who is also a singer and a youth pastor. My wife Monica is a 1st grade teacher and I have one insanely talented 4 year old daughter Milani. I call Monica and Milani my M&Ms. Fun fact about my family is that we were featured No.5 on the list for “Coolest Black Family in America” by Ebony Magazine in 2012. 🙂
What values do you think make people successful?
I would say three things:
1) Passion for what you want to achieve
2) Being Consistent
3) No matter what, never lose who you are. Always be yourself. In the end that pays more.
What is your current job?
Currently I’m a Music Producer and Show Writer for Walt Disney Creative Entertainment
What’s your favorite job you’ve had in the past?
A very diverse three way tie 🙂
1) Puppeteer and Performer for Disney and Universal
2) Sound Designer and Music Composer for Video Games and Kids Apps
3) Music Professor for The Los Angeles Film School
What are your passions in life?
My passion is to create unique and unforgettable experiences for families. I believe exposing yourself to immersive experiences should be a prerequisite to life. However, there are many that will never get a chance to experience the immersive worlds we spend millions of dollars creating. What can we provide for those who can’t afford those levels of memories? I ask myself that all of the time. No matter what show or attraction I make, I will always have a passion to create just as many experiences for those who can’t afford it and give them an equal opportunity to create memories for their family. Themed entertainment is for all people. I feel that we have an obligation to expose our gifts to everyone and not just the ones who will pay top dollar.
Why is diversity and inclusion important to you?
Well, when I think of Diversity and Inclusion its kind of like this scenario. No one enjoys going to an ice cream parlor where there is one flavor right? The folks that never complain about the parlor are the ones that enjoy that exclusive flavor time and time again. They can confidently walk in that parlor knowing they have the upper hand, while others watch from the outside yearning for ice cream as well. You must like this flavor to come in. If you don’t, you are not allowed to come in at all. The parlor knows that morally its not cool to have an environment for one kind of person to enjoy ice cream, but the parlor ignores that because the money is good and the customers ignores the facts because the ice cream is good. This is how the Themed Entertainment industry was built. Themed entertainment is an environment where it is meant for all people to enjoy AND also have an equal chance in creative development. However, its also one of the top environments where you see passive segregation, from those who are in power and call the creative shots all the way down to those who experience the parks and resorts. Simply viewing the staff rosters for the creative spaces of any company would confirm if Diversity and Inclusion is a priority or not. Another test to see if a company has diversity and inclusion at the core of there system is to simply see the guests that visit. Creative spaces lacking cultural diversity naturally create experiences for those that come from non-diverse communities. That goes for all cultures. Diversity and Inclusion is more than a plan. It’s all about ACTION. It’s about breaking molds and diversifying the creative space, so that all voices and cultures can contribute and enjoy the fruits of our labor. Diversity packs so much strength at its core. It’s a must to effectively understand the future of the Themed Entertainment Industry and where it is headed. Together is the only way we can figure that out.