Not many have a career and background as diverse and extensive as Keith L Craig. The Hollywood executive played pro sports and served in the military before earning an esteemed Trailblazer of Diversity Award during the 2019 Hollywood African American Prestigious Awards. The show was hosted by Vivica Fox and Michael Blackson. His impact even led the awards committee to change the name of the award to the “Craig Trailblazer of Diversity Award” in honor of him. Impressive. And while Craig has been involved in many industries, there is a common denominator linking them all, and that’s Craig’s call to lead and inspire.
In 1987, at the age of 17, Craig joined the United States Army where he served for more than three decades, rising through the ranks as an army private to a sergeant major, which is the highest ranking non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army. During his time, Craig fought in Iraq in 2003, and recalled the moment that forever changed his life. “It was a very surreal time in my life mainly because I lost a lot of colleagues and friends in that war… that didn’t come home like I did,” he says to Industry Rules. “I had to write letters to many families telling them the news of how their family members were heroes because they gave up their lives for our country.”
It was in those moments, Craig also realized he wanted to offer as much as he could to the world. “My experiences in the military made me realize that I had a higher purpose,” he added.
While serving in the military, Craig put his athleticism to work, and became a football player, playing for the Wiesbaden Flyers in 1989. He competed in the USAFE’s Continental Sports Conference up until 1992. He then moved on to play professionally as a wide receiver in Europe.
When Craig wasn’t on the battlefield or the football field, he made the most of his time by finding ways to entertain his fellow troops. “I started bringing artists over to entertain them in Europe. Little did I know this would be the start of my management endeavors,” Craig reveals. “After doing this for some time, I soon got word that studios in Hollywood wanted to come and show films to the troops in combat [in Iraq and Afghanistan]. I saw this as a great opportunity so I took the lead by flying to Dubai to meet their executive.”
“From there it grew bigger and I began orchestrating films being shown in all of Southwest Asia. A relationship was born after that deployment. Soon after is when the opportunity presented itself and I came to Hollywood,” he adds.
When he returned to the states, Craig found yet another way to serve his community, and launched Craig Enterprises. It is comprised of Formation Entertainment Group, a firm dedicated to connecting and supporting introductory talent (actors, musicians, and comedians) from diverse and underrepresented communities.
“There are many talented people everywhere, however not everyone can break into the industry without a helping hand,” Craig says of the company. “The Formation is a platform that helps legitimately talented people bridge the gap and gain opportunities to realize their goals and aspirations that they otherwise may not have had individually.”
Craig Enterprises also consists of a partnership with the Granville Investment Group who own and operate the Granville Restaurants throughout Southern California. Craig’s desire to help others stretches into wellness, as well. Whole Journey Wellness Services encompasses two mental health centers that are run by Craig’s daughter and CEO Nikissia Craig. “Here we focus on helping individuals accomplish mental balance with a fresh perspective. We have two locations, one in Richmond and the other in Chesapeake, Virginia,” he tells us, before announcing a new project he and Nikissia are working on together, — a book called Serving To Lead.
“The goal is to help inspire people to become critical thinkers [and learn] what providing leadership through serving really means,” he I’m excited about the book because I got the chance to co-write it with my daughter. I’m also excited because I get to share some valuable experiences and lessons learned that could potentially help others.” Serving To Lead will be released in summer 2020 and is expected to be available on Amazon, Audible, and other major book retailers.