On May 20, Titus O'Neil will become the first WWE competitor ever to perform a TED talk. However, being labeled as a professional wrestler nearly denied O'Neil the chance.
O'Neil, who will give a TED talk on May 20 at the TEDxUCLA conference on what he describes as "the domino effect of advocacy", discussed the opportunity and the battle to get the chance during a recent interview with USA Today.
“Reaction to me possibly doing this was not as well received because of the field that I’m in,” O'Neil said. “It comes with certain stereotypes being in WWE. Over a period of time and them monitoring the product of WWE, but also what I do individually both inside and outside of WWE, they felt like maybe we can give this a try.”
O'Neil will give his TED talk not under his wrestling name, but as himself -- Thaddeus Bullard.
"It’s based on whether someone wants to be the positive domino in someone else’s life,” he said when explaining the subject of his talk. “It’s going to be taking my real life story and placing some of the advocates within my life and how it changed my way of thinking, my mode of operation as well as my ability to see things from a different perspective. …I want to illustrate how my life has gone, why it’s gone in the direction it’s gone, where it started, how it arrived at this point and how that process can be echoed by people from all around the world and all walks of life regardless of race or gender or nationality or sexual orientation or religion.”
The USA Today article noted O'Neil was chosen to give the TED talk last August.