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Kevin Hart talks about ‘Night School’ and moving to ‘a higher level’

The comedian opens up about his multiple projects and the legacy he wants to leave

A busy schedule is nothing new for funnyman Kevin Hart. When Hart is not acting, you can catch him in a city near you polishing off his latest comedy special. If not on tour, he’s writing books, inking deals and overseeing his own production company while being a husband and father of three.

Right now, Hart is celebrating the release of Night School, directed by Malcolm D. Lee and co-produced by Hart and Will Packer. The film features Hart as Teddy Walker, a salesman desperate to get a GED diploma. Walker enrolls in evening classes for adults taught by Carrie Carter (Tiffany Haddish), a no-nonsense educator who isn’t afraid to show a little tough love to get the point across to her students. This is the first major production under his company, HartBeat Productions — and one the comedian is extremely proud of.

“I’m beyond excited about it,” Hart told The Undefeated. “More importantly than being excited, I’m ecstatic about the opportunity. This movie works; it’s a clear definition of comedy. I think a lot of comedy films that have been released have been struggling to date. People are saying where has comedy gone, but the world of Kevin Hart and the world of comedy have been very consistent.

“This movie shows people that I’m here and I’m not budging anytime soon. You’ve now put me in a position to create content and produce. That makes me stronger than I was when I was just able to be a talent because now the talent has a higher purpose. So teaming up with the likes of a Tiffany Haddish and teaming up with Universal and doing movies on a higher level, it’s a big bonus, one that I welcome and one that I’m prepared to take on and be a part of for quite some time.”

Whether focusing on family or preaching the importance of both mental and physical health, Hart is hardly ever working on only one project at a time, nor does he want to be.

“I don’t want to go anywhere,” Hart said. “I understand that this is about longevity, which is why you build the brand — the brand of HartBeat Productions, the brand of Laugh Out Loud [Network on YouTube], the brand of comedy that can live with or without you. It’s about you finding and building those moments to be long-lasting moments, owning as much as you can and making sure you have an imprint that will last forever. That’s how I prepare for the long run that I’ve now partaken in. It’s not about today, it’s about tomorrow. And when you understand that, you’re putting yourself in the best position to succeed.”

In between Night School promos and magazine spreads, radio hits and television appearances, Hart is working his way across America on the last three months of the Irresponsible Tour, in which he isn’t shy about updating fans on the latest accomplishments, and mishaps, in his life.

In a promotional video for the tour, Hart presents himself as six different personalities, each representing part of what makes Hart who he is today. At one point during the four-minute promo, the comedian addresses his infidelity, a story in the headlines last winter after he admitted to cheating on his pregnant wife and offered a public apology on social media. Opening up about some of the most uncomfortable topics makes the Irresponsible Tour, which Hart says has reached $1.3 million in ticket sales, one of his most vulnerable specials yet.

“The people know that I have no problems sharing my ups and downs,” Hart said. “I think that’s what makes me human. That’s what keeps my fan base engaged. I don’t shy away from negatives. I turn my negatives into positives by showing that I’m a person too. There’s nothing that separates me from anybody else, with the exception that you see me on TV and in movies. I’m very much a person.”

Hart’s humble beginnings — working in shoe stores, being booed at comedy clubs and struggling before getting a glimpse of success — continue to push him to strive for more.

“Every time I see something and I get closer to the thing that I saw happening, I immediately work on seeing something else,” Hart said. “Where I am now is not where I want to be, not where I envision myself being, because it’s all about seeing ahead. It’s all about wanting more. It’s all about achieving more. With that being said, the goal of becoming that mogul, that self-made, that started from the bottom and got to the top, is a real one now. That’s the goal.”

Although the comedian, actor and entrepreneur has no plans of slowing down soon, he already knows the legacy he’s creating.

“I just want to leave a major imprint,” Hart said. “It’s not about me surpassing or me being the biggest and best. Those comedians before me that have achieved so much greatness are all on pedestals of their own, and they’ll never be taken off. It’s about me creating my own. It’s about me getting to my own pedestal and, when I get there, having a story behind it. Simply having an imprint on the world of comedy where people can go, ‘Kevin Hart did this.’ I just want to be the best version of myself, and I want people to appreciate and respect that.”

Maya Jones is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a native New Orleanian who enjoys long walks down Frenchmen Street and romantic dates to Saints games.