Read the summary or enjoy the full video interview with Emmanuel Kelly. Inspirational speaker, singer and performer, Emmanuel Kelly takes audiences on his life journey and teaches them how to overcome perception and live life to its fullest.
Emmanuel has had an amazing life since he was a baby and a tremendous impact in business and performing as he continued life. He’s a singer, actor, entrepreneur, and a speaker. He’s been all over the world. He’s had over a billion views on social media and has been featured in Billboard magazine. He’s been on the Kelly Clarkson show. His breakout start as a singer was when he blew away the audience and judges on Australia’s X-Factor. Since then, he has toured with Coldplay and performed with biggest stars like Snoop Dog, David Foster, and the legendary DJ Paul Oakenfold.
Emmanuel’s life had a brutal beginning. Originally from Iraq, he was found in a box by some soldiers in the battlefield. He didn’t have formed arms or legs and had no history. The warring soldiers briefly truced and kept him from harm. They took time to an orphanage where was raised there for seven years. In the orphanage, he met a boy that he calls his brother. When he was five years old, he met Moira Kelly who traveled all the way from Armenia to help him and his brother. Moira’s presence gave them hope and made them believe that anything is possible. After two years, Moira took Emmanuel and his brother to Australia where he had multiple surgeries which allowed him to do simple things for the first time like walking and how to use a fork and knife.
Back in Iraq, Emmanuel and his brother, at such a young age, had to live like adults. Bullets would pierce the orphanage walls at least once a week and they had to strategically plan where to position themselves so they wouldn’t get hit. They climbed up a hill filled with landmines just to get a bucket of water. They ate one meal a day, which was often a piece of bread and milk. Although in a state of malnutrition, because Emmanuel and his brother were the only mentally abled ones in the orphanage, even at their young age they were expected to help with the care of the other children.
Life changed for Emmanuel in Australia. He auditioned multiple times for TV talent shows. He first auditioned to Australia’s Got Talent at 16 but did not get in. At 17, he auditioned for the second time but did not make it either. After 3 months, he was invited to audition for X-Factor and was invited to do the live auditions a month later. He prepared two songs and practiced for months. At the live auditions, he sang ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon and captured the hearts of many across the world.
That huge moment shifted his future, both for good and bad. He received a lot of love, but he realized that most of it was fake love. He was unaccepted within the entertainment industry by record labels and managers, and agencies got to him emotionally and warped him. He started going down a dark path that led him to abusing his body, mind, and emotions through drugs and alcohol. He was homeless for a long time. It wasn’t until he remembered his experience with a soldier, who was pointing a gun at him, who told him that he had guts that he turned a corner. Six months into his depression, he looked at himself in the mirror and asked where that boy was. He told himself, it’s none of your business what anyone thinks of you, it’s only your business what you think of yourself. As the months passed, he looked at himself in the mirror and slowly learned to love himself and really believe it. He started once again down the road to success with this new perception of himself.
Emmanuel believes that when you meet business groups and leaders, part of the path you take them down is mindset and perception. There needs to be an atmosphere created within the organization that allows people to open different ideas and embrace different perceptions. Diversity and inclusion is massive in creating that environment. He advises company leadership teams that they must be willing to pivot, to make changes, and to shift their perception as company keeps growing. He also teaches that genius finds genius. In order for a company to be successful, a leader needs to hire mentors or people that are smarter than they are.
Emmanuel has had a few powerful mentors in his lifetime. He has had business mentors in the US like Hans Vetzberg, the CEO of Verizon, as well as mentors from the music industry like Akon, and Coldplay’s Chris Martin. Emmanuel wants to constantly learn. He feels having smart people around him and letting them take the lead and teach is a big part of the reason why he is successful today.
Aside from his music and speaking, Emmanuel consultants for companies to guide them to success in the area of serving the differently-abled market. With his management company, Labor Code Consultancy, artists are involved in helping companies create diversity inclusion.