For Army Reserve 1st Lt. Tevin King, a member of the Military Intelligence Readiness Command, leadership always came naturally. In school, he was the captain of sports teams, the class president, and the person who would coordinate projects. “Being in charge always felt normal for me,” King says. “So I felt the only role for me was to be in charge of a company or a brand.”
He didn’t know exactly what that meant. He didn’t know, for instance, what industry he wanted to work in, or what size company he wanted to lead. But he was sure he wanted to own his own business, maybe a few. And coming out of college at East Carolina University, he saw a path. “I figured I’d go into the Army, become an officer, get my Master's in business, and the military would help me fund it,” he says.
So King enlisted in the Army Reserve in the fall of 2014, as he was finishing his undergraduate education. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before he became the non-commissioned officer in charge of the Human Resources S1 section. And in the ensuing years, he’s continued working his way upward, albeit with some pivots.
King was already a good leader, but the Army only made him better. “It made me a better listener,” he says. He learned to communicate with a diverse group of people, process what they were saying, and synthesize the information quickly.
And around the same time, his focus shifted from a career path in business to one in creative arts, writing and acting. He wound up at Florida A&M University, in a program for theater, performance, and management. While there, he contracted with the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in the fall of 2018.
In February of 2020, he became a Mobilization Officer for the 648th Regional Support Group, in charge of monitoring all incoming flights and movement of units going from stateside to overseas. He also assisted soldiers as they returned home from deployment and helped integrate them back into the civilian sector.
As it turned out, his military experience had direct applications to writing and acting. “Being in leadership roles gave me a commanding voice when I walked into the room,” he says. “And it helped me to be around so many different people and listen to their stories. It made me more empathetic and gave me the emotional IQ to understand others better.” The accomplishments came quickly: King wrote two children’s books and contributed to three different TV shows and a feature film. “I was able to put some of those thoughts and ideas [from the military] into my book and use all of those different perspectives to form a collaborative effort in storytelling,” he says.
Now, he’s more or less a one-man business. But during the coronavirus pandemic, he’s been recruiting others to help him spread his work. Together, he and a couple friends are making short cartoons featuring the characters from his children’s books. “We're just trying to build characters and get those characters out in front of people,” he says. “That way, when it's time for me to present the books, you've already seen the characters’ faces.”
King has had his bouts of the pandemic blues, but right now he’s looking on the bright side. “This is the perfect time to catch people's attention,” he says, his voice commanding indeed.