Feb 21, 2012


Kids for generations have threatened to run away and join the circus, but few have had the gumption or the talent to actually do it. Johnathan Lee Iverson had enough of both to join The Greatest Show On Earth®. Iverson became the ringmaster for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Circus fresh out of college at age 22, and now, at 36, he helms the 142nd edition of the spectacle, bringing its comedy, grace, color, precision, athleticism, suspense, and music to fans around the world.

Here’s an introduction to the New York City native.

CLAIM TO FAME: I was in history books by the age of 22 as the youngest and first African American to don the legendary top hat and tails in Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey history. I’m a trivia question.

REFLECTIONS: How you broke in to the business: I was fresh out of college, and on the audition grind. Following an audition for the Fireside Dinner Theater, the director, Phil McKinley, who also happened to be the director for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, insisted I audition for The Greatest Show On Earth®. The rest is history. * Most valuable life lesson learned: “Unless a man enters upon the vocation intended for him by nature and best suited to his peculiar genius, he cannot succeed.” – P.T. Barnum * Most valuable business lesson learned: Own!!! * Advice you would have given yourself 10 years ago: Learn another language. * Words you live by: Without love, nothing I do matters.

DIVERSIONS: Reading now: The 50th Law by Robert Greene & Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson * Reading next: The Meaning of Marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller * Last fun purchase: My iPhone from the Apple Store. * Recent discovery: Vernice Armour, the first female African-American fighter pilot. She was featured on Roland Martin’s Washington Watch on TV1.

PLAYING FAVORITES: Hotel: Peppermill Resort Spa Casino in Reno, Nv. * Getaway: Brazil * Entrée: Miso Salmon at The Cheesecake Factory * Drink: Lemonade Guilty pleasure:The Maury show.