It’s hard to keep track of Ruba Wilson as his influence and list of projects continue to grow. The television celebrity, musical artist and social media influencer for 24 Hour Fitness is always on the move, bringing a fresh, young perspective on Hollywood as he covers—and delivers—entertainment. He reports from the red carpet, hosts talk shows and game shows and more for the likes of the Oprah Winfrey Network and People TV, and has written and released several singles.
Wilson always knew he wanted to be in entertainment, yet his lucky break almost sounds like chance. Wilson recalls being bored on summer break of his sophomore year of high school and filming his own talk show parody to post on YouTube. Within two days, his post had 300,000 views and publicists started contacting him.
Since then, Wilson has amassed a substantial following on social media and has moved steadily from project to project. “I did red-carpet coverage for Disney and TV Guide and then went to the Oprah Winfrey Network,” Wilson says. “Now I’m over at Young Hollywood and hosting a teen game show called ‘Music Mania.’”
24Life sat down with Wilson recently to find out what is driving his popularity and success. It turns out that the self-assured Wilson is willing to share even his most embarrassing moments—and audiences can relate to that and get inspired by the way that he gives himself grace and keeps going.
24Life: What’s been your most embarrassing moment?
Ruba Wilson: I was covering the red carpet and insisted that Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 was someone else. Literally argued the man down based on what I thought his name was, and it was all filmed … [but] I survived.
24Life: How do you get through something like that?
RW: One thing I always remind myself is this too shall pass. You know what? I’m always going to look back and be like yo, that wasn’t as bad as I thought. A month from now, [I’m] going to laugh at this and not even really remember this moment, so just keep pushing. That’s my motto.
24Life: You’re a 24 Hour Fitness member, and we know you’ve got the moves. What got you started on your fitness journey?
RW: I have always just been an active kid just running around. I even played Pop Warner football. I was terrible, … [and] I’ll never do that kind of physical activity again. There was one drill where you had to lie down on your back [and] one of your teammates had to be on the opposite side of the field. When the coach blew the whistle, you had to pop up and tackle the person. That shook me [up], literally.
I’ve always liked to look good and feel good in my own skin, but I was always so skinny and I’m small now. But I’m learning how to own that, and I think through working out with a trainer and just even going to the gym, it gives [me] that extra confidence boost. It just feels good and that’s that.
24Life: So you’ve told us Janet and Britney are part of your power playlist, but tell us about your music.
RW: OK, so I also do music. I don’t ever want to look back at my life and like dang, I should’ve done this or that. Music is so dear to my heart. … My family has been in the industry before I was even thought of, so it’s just something I’ve always seen growing up. No formal training or anything. Even when it comes to writing songs, someone has told me, “You’ve never written a song, so don’t write.” I was like no, thank you, I’m going to do just the opposite, and so far, things have been moving just beautifully, so I’m just excited [about my music]. That’s all I can say.
24Life: And what’s a typical day for you?
RW: For the most part every day is different, but I host a game show. So I normally have my mornings off from 6 to 10:30. That’s when I try to work out or do things that I need to do to get my soul together.
24Life: What do you do to get your game face on, get into the mindset for the show?
RW: I listen to music. It just needs to be something upbeat to kind of get my spirits up and remind me why I do what I do. I do a lot of warm-ups. I do this weird thing where I say I’m glad I made it. I do that all day long.
24Life: What do you do to re-energize after all that you give on camera?
RW: Recently, I’ve learned to check in with myself. I just started seeing a therapist. And I think that it’s so healthy because especially in the black community, that’s not really a thing. … But for me, I needed someone to talk to and listen to me because it was just me in my head all day long. One thing that I have learned from this therapist is checking in with yourself. Just like when you’re in a relationship with someone and you feel like their energy is off, you check on them like hey, are you good? You have to do the same thing with yourself, because ultimately, you’re in a relationship with you. I’ve learned to check on me and understand that the way I feel matters in that particular point in time.
24Life: So now that you’re an established influencer, what’s your philosophy? Do you share everything?
RW: You know, I’ve really struggled with sharing too much, especially online. A few months ago, I released an IGTV docuseries. And I was a little hesitant to post it because I was as vulnerable as I could have possibly have ever been. I dealt with breakups and feeling let down and crying and just being a hot mess, and I put it out there and the response was amazing. So many people were like, “I’ve been through this. This is how you can get through it,” and so warm and so helpful and able to relate to my story so much that it made me feel like OK, maybe I’m not sharing too much. Maybe I’m helping other people while I’m helping myself.
24Life: So what advice would you give someone else who’s thinking about being a social media influencer and is just starting out?
RW: The advice I would give anyone who wants to dive into the world of being a social media influencer is just do you. I know that sounds so cliché and so cheesy, but it’s so true. Talk about the things that you love. If you like to do comedy sketches, do that. If you like collecting Barbie dolls, do that. Literally, there’s an audience for everything and everyone, so just do it. Try not to compare yourself to what everybody is doing.
24Life: And if you could whisper something in the ears of 24 Hour Fitness members, what would that be?
RW: Luck favors the prepared. [Otherwise], if an opportunity comes a-knocking, you’re like oh my God, I wasn’t expecting company.
Photo credit: Tom Casey, box24studio.com