After nearly 10 years in the music industry, Prince Royce had one main piece of advice for UF students: Don’t hesitate and act to achieve your goals.
Accent Speakers Bureau, UF Hispanic Heritage Month and Student Government Productions hosted a Monday evening event with Latin singer and songwriter Prince Royce. The conversation was moderated by Dania Alexandrino, the Spanish-language news manager of Noticias WUFT and 2018 UF International Educator of the Year.
During the Zoom event, Prince Royce had a lively spirit and a contagious smile. He shared memories of his childhood in Bronx, New York, the success of his multi-platinum music career and how his battle with COVID-19 led him to spread awareness on the severity of the virus.
“I think it's been a beautiful journey,” he said. “I envisioned myself having success and doing everything that I'm doing now, but it's very different to live in it.”
The event had a 45-minute moderated conversation followed by a 15 minute Q&A with questions submitted by UF students.
Royce was paid $65,000 from student fees to speak at the hour-long event. The speaking fee was among the highest paid this year by UF.
This year, Anita Hill, a lawyer and Brandeis University professor, was paid $30,000 to speak at a virtual Accent event. The three Black Lives Matter co-founders were paid $10,000 each and comedian John Mulaney was paid $50,000 in student fees to also speak virtually.
When Alexandrino asked about how he started his music career, he reflected on his roots.
Dominican-American singer and songwriter Royce was raised by immigrant parents and said he recalls eating his mother’s famous lasagna and mangú, a Dominican breakfast dish. The Bronx streets had a perfect balance of culture, he said, and his childhood inspired him.
While he said his first released song, “Corazón Sin Cara,” did poorly, “Stand By Me,” a cover of the Ben King song, reached No. 1 on the Billboard Tropical airplay charts in 2010.
“Sometimes you got to give things a second chance,” he said.
In the past eight years, he’s had 17 No. 1 radio hits and more than 80 awards and recognitions including 22 Latin Billboard Awards and 12 Latin Grammy nominations. His first collaboration was with Daddy Yankee and has since worked with Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Snoop Dogg and Maluma.
Royce looked up to artists like Tupac and Michael Jackson, inspired by their ability to touch the hearts and moved the feet of people around the nation.
As a multi-platinum award-winning artist with more than 60 million social media followers, he said he’s spent money on a few gifts for himself, but advises students not to get caught up in the “hype.”
“If it flies, drives and floats, it’s a bad investment,” he said.
His fame also taught him to invest in communities that need it most and give back to where he came from. He recalled visiting the Dominican Republic as a kid, and suggested all students should visit their parent’s homeland.
Later, he talked about his most recent album released in February, Alter Ego, that examines how individuals adapt to the setting they are in. The song was written so listeners could take an inside look on who they are and improve on the parts of themselves they’re least proud of.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Royce had to cancel his Alter Ego concert tour after completing five of 45 scheduled shows. To make matters worse, he contracted COVID-19 in early June. He viewed the world differently after the scare and decided to use his voice to advocate for COVID-19 safety by donating plasma and encouraging UF students not to party, until it’s safe.
Ultimately, he said, we’re all humans and this time should be used to spread gratitude and positivity.
“We don’t really think about how fragile life is,” he said.
From the crazed fan experiences to the times spent recording music with Marc Anthony, Royce advised UF students to work on their “passionate projects” and to act on things that can push one’s career.
“We're always afraid to jump,” he said, “Sometimes you got to take the leap, and, if you fall you get back up.”