Actor, singer, writer, producer, 2007 recipient of the Top-20 under 30 entrepreneurial award, businessman, personal trainer, proud father of two—and world-ranked high jumper. Jesse Lipscombe couldn’t have scripted a better life. Except maybe extend the hours in a day.
“I made a life and a career of the things I love,” said Jesse, Executive Producer and Partner at Mosaic Entertainment, a multi-platform entertainment production company in Edmonton, Alberta and co-owner of Wevive Fitness studios, and Sabor, a fine dining restaurant. “Find something you’re passionate about, and someone will pay handsomely for it.”
When not on location or developing new business opportunities for Mosaic, Jesse works hard to keep his training company in the news and give back to the community. Burpees for Boobies in support of breast cancer and Push-ups for Prostrate in support of prostrate cancer are just two of the many special events hosted at his training facility where tens of thousands of dollars have been raised for both causes.
Jesse is a sought-after personal trainer and coach and a regular speaker at schools, conferences and events in the central Alberta area. His approach to physical fitness is exciting and unconventional. The proof is in a portable Slacklining kit that he carries to workouts.
Slacklining is a balancing exercise involving high-tension tubular webbing. Think of it as a cross between a tightrope and a trampoline affixed between two trees. The activity is a magnet for kids, but in typical Jesse style, he has made it a fun family affair.
“I tell parents that I’ll only let their kids do it if they do it, too,” he smiled. And that’s when the real magic begins and the whole family “lights up.”
The grandson of the late great CFL Hall of Famer, Rollie Miles, Jesse started his sports and entertainment empire at 17—and never looked back. For the five-year member of the Canadian national track team and two-time recipient of the Black Achievement Award of Excellence from the Black Achievement Awards Society of Alberta, success is simple. It’s about belief.
“Anything that anybody’s ever believed they can do with every thread of their being, they’ve done,” he said in a recent interview. “So it seems so weird that we are afraid to try something because we want it,” adding “How are you going to find anything new in the place you’re always in?”
Jesse has been in the entertainment business for close to two decades. His film and television credits include the Emmy award-winning Children of the Dust starring Sidney Poitier, his first acting role at 14, Hell on Wheels and ESPY-nominated feature Resurrecting the Champ starring Samuel L. Jackson and many nationally and internationally acclaimed productions. His latest and most demanding role was that of a sociopath in the psychological thriller Forbidden Playground.
“Creating is just something that makes my soul smile at all times,” said Jesse, crediting his family for encouraging him to live out his dreams—each and every one of them. “Our family definitely supports big dreams in the best way, I think, which is straight love and belief.”
Jesse’s athletic accomplishments opened doors to a full athletic scholarship. He chose to attend the prestigious Morehouse College—where alumni include Martin Luther King and Spike Lee. He graduated on the Dean’s list and also won an NCAA II high jump title.
“I was an artist trapped in a jock’s body,“ said Jesse. “What I loved the most about sports was that moment when it was time to perform.”
And perform he did. He was a three-time high jump national champion, provincial champion more than 40 times and multiple recipient of the Most Outstanding Athlete award. He also played basketball at an elite level and was a professional contender in football.
“I think I was a better basketball player than track athlete but it was just a harder sport in which to get recognized globally (than high-jumping),” he added. So he followed the spotlight. Or the spotlight followed him.
Athletic careers are often rooted in triumph—and tragedy. Enter the 2004 Summer Olympic games in Athens. Ranked 6th in the world, Jesse had dreams of a podium finish. Instead, he had to withdraw after suffering a transient ischemic attack (TIA), a mini stroke. Later that year, he made an unsuccessful comeback.
“That year that probably could have been, would have been, the best year ever with the potential of a great Olympic games actually became my retirement year, which is unfortunate,” said Jesse. He was 28.
Unlike many world-class athletes, Jesse refused to be defined by his sport. He admits to preparing for life after sport all his life by just living every moment to the limit.
“It wasn’t really transition,” he said, referring to his retirement. “It was just, this is what I’m doing now versus this is what I’m not doing.”
Jesse admits his career in track and field would have been short-lived if sport had been his only focus.
“Looking back I’m very happy with the powers that be that helped influence me or at least give me the room to do what I loved,” he said. And along with sport, what he loved most was singing, acting, travelling and building start-ups. So that’s what he did. “I had a great time. There is nothing at all I would take back.”
Jesse is a founding member of Trilogy Athletes, a global business community of elite athletes connected through a powerful peer-to-peer social network.
“It’s a smart plan,” Jesse said, adding that he is excited to be a part of it. “It’s nice to surround yourself with like-minded people. Those like us in the Trilogy world are often not your neighbours or your co-workers, so when you meet them, it’s refreshing and inspiring to know that you don’t have to vet each other. We already know that each of us has succeeded at high levels in all different ways, so if we’re going to help each other out, it’s real help.”
How has sport enriched his life? “It let me know how strong we actually are, physically and mentally and emotionally,” said Jesse. “How often do we break or think we’re broken but seconds later just go a little bit farther. Sport allows you to know that no matter how hard something is, you can always do more.”
What’s next for Jesse?
Publishing a children’s book he’s written called The Shy Monster. It is personal project that means a lot to him—and his family. The storyline centres on a young child who faces his fears that are embodied in the Shy Monster, a monster that grows by feeding on fear. As the child hero starts to overcome his fears by doing cool things in life, the monster shrinks until he is small enough to be placed into a tiny box.
“Just for the record, I feel petrified all the time,” Jesse said. “But I understood that fear’s real purpose for most of my life was to rob me of amazing experiences.”
Jesse’s 6-year-old son is a dancer. He is also very shy. At a dance class, the boy went up to Jesse and said he didn’t want to dance. A little time passed, then without any prompting, he agreed to try. At the end of his triumphant dance, he whispered to his father: “I killed the Shy Monster.” You can’t script moments like this. Even when you are Jesse Lipscombe.
To learn more about Jesse Lipscombe, visit www.mosaicentertainment.ca
By Maureen Stern