Talk Show Host Uses Pain as Passion to Help Community

Sunday, 08 January 2012 20:05 Written by  Iya Bakare

Kenny “K.O.” Ollins says he doesn’t resent his experiences because he’s learned from them.

Through his pain and experiences, Kenny wants to heal and hopes others can do the same. As a relationship talk show, host who is candid about his past, he aspires to bring it into living rooms. His long-term relationship that ended a month prior to the wedding triggered thoughts of prior unhealthy relationships with women, and Kenny says he realized he needed to get it together.

“I was tired of hurting women, I’m tired of women hurting, and I wanted to know what I could do about it,” he admits.

In November 2010, Kenny decided he wanted to create a relationship forum, an idea he discussed amongst friends. It wasn’t until January 2011 that his talk show concept and relationship forum B.O.R.N. (Building Our Relationships Now) was conceived. With a mission to make women in the African American community aware that good men exist, Kenny credits his team for supporting and encouraging him.

“We as men need you and can’t do it without you,” says Kenny. “Men need to stand up and be kings so they can lead their queens. Otherwise, they’re pawns. We have to stop degrading each other and love ourselves so we can love each other.”

After his most recent relationship ended, Kenny admits he began to reflect on all of his relationships, asking himself why they all continued to fail and was forced to pinpoint the first time he was hurt in his life, which he recalls vividly from childhood.

“I remember being beat with an extension cord by my mother and her boyfriend, who was a married man,” he admits. “I was whipped until the skin was torn from my body. It was the form of discipline used if I did something wrong. One reason I was whipped was because I wet my bed. My bed wetting would occur based on Cabrini [Cabrini Green] living and other whippings. I also began stealing my mom’s boyfriend’s (who was supposedly my stepfather) money to get back at him. After a while, he caught on that I was stealing from him, so he set me up, and I was eventually caught. I was beat for it and to the point where I attempted to run, ran into a wall, and busted my head. Even though I said my head was busted, my mother continued to whip me.”

In the midst of escaping whippings and beatings from his mother and her boyfriend in his strict, single-parent household, Kenny says he dodged stray bullets and witnessed the deaths of countless people in the lightless streets of Chicago’s Cabrini Green housing projects.

“I should not be alive today,” says Kenny. “The grace of God saved me, and the stress alone should have killed me.”

Although his mother didn’t want Kenny or his sisters to play outside, he managed to escape and serve his community in various capacities throughout his childhood because he says he was always intrigued with how he could help others, which foreshadowed his future career. As a child, he aspired to become a lawyer, but his path led him to the road of a juvenile probation leader, a career where he provides opportunities and alternatives for juveniles for the betterment of the community. Growing up in a house full of females, Kenny formed a brother-like relationship with Jim Moriarity, one of his customers when he worked for the Chicago Sun Times, who taught him some of the basics in his professional career. He also joined a brotherhood when he became a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

As a student at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill. and an intern at an adult probation office, Kenny found and met his father, who was incarcerated at the time. Years later, Kenny says his father found him. Sadly, he passed away shortly after they reconnected.

From his relationships with his parents to his relationships with his significant others, Kenny says he was felt a pressure to protect himself and bore an imaginary “F” for “façade” on his chest. He credits the relationship with his ex-fiancé for the experiences where he was challenged and learned some of the most important life lessons, such as thinking about the future and how to love others.

Although he was saved in January 1999, Kenny says it was in January 2010 when he started to grow in his spiritual walk.

“The last two years have been when I’ve really seen God’s face,” he adds. “B.O.R.N. was conceived on January, 16 2011 by the Father and I haven’t rested since.”

Kenny filmed his pilot show in September 2011. His show focuses on building and reinforcing all relationships within the community. On his website, he candidly chronicles the different relationships in his life and lessons he’s learned and continues to absorb.

“I’m still healing and am in the process of healing with you,” he says. “If I can teach people the lessons I’ve learned, then I’ve done my part. I’m a walking billboard for the living and not the dead.”

Show your support for the B.O.R. N. Show at the Women’s Platform Launch Event at Chicago’s Park 52 on Saturday, January 21. For more information, visit Follow Ollins on Twitter at @kobornshow.

Iya Bakare

Iya Bakare

Iya Bakare, GMO's managing editor, earned both her Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in print journalism. She earned her B.A. from Delta State University with a minor in English and graduated with a M.A. degree from Columbia College Chicago. In her spare time, the Chicago native continues to freelance and ponder ways to both inform and improve her community one story at a time.

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Follow her on Twitter: @ibakare