Hennessy Taps Russell Westbrook for New Initiative to Help BIPOC Communities

Hennessy linked up with NBA superstar Russell Westbrook, artist Victor Solomon and entrepreneur Alex Taylor to debut Make Moves That Start Movements — a program aimed at expanding their Unfinished Business initiative in order to help BIPOC business owners with the assist of the NBA community.

Unfinished Business is a platform created by the official spirit of the NBA, Hennessy, in order to provide material support to Black, Asian and Latinx small business owners who were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with already more than $5 million USD in funding distributed.

To start off MMTSM’s momentum, the two companies look to the NBA players and teams for support, such as Russell Westbrook, who will be providing aid in Unfinished Business’ efforts. Fans will have the opportunity to snag covetable NBA memorabilia during the Playoffs, such as Westbrook’s game-worn Black History Month warm-up shorts, team-signed basketballs and more.

In commemoration of the initiative, a new film, Take It Far, sheds a light on the NBA communities that are forging new waves and starting new conversations, such as director Joshua Kissi as a first-generation Ghanaian-American creative entrepreneur, Westbrook as he creative-directs his cause-based fashion line, Honor the Gift, “Literally Balling” artist, Victor Solomon as he crafts a Kingtsugi-style project in his LA studio and community activist, Alex Taylor, as she plans future endeavors for women’s basketball collective, Hoop York City.

Westbrook sat down with HYPEBEAST to lay out his game plan for the partnership and to give us more insight into his involvement.

HYPEBEAST: How did your involvement in Make Moves That Start Movements come about?

Russell Westbrook: I’m a big Hennessy fan. Their “Never stop. Never settle” ethos really resonates with me on a personal level. It’s a reflection of my mindset and how I keep pushing myself, the game, and everything around it to go further. When Hennessy saw the work I’ve been doing in my community and on the court, they came to me so we could work together to empower and champion others who are making moves to push culture forward. That’s what Make Moves That Start Movements is all about, inspiring people to make a positive impact in their community. I’m all in.

In regards to your participation, how do you hope to grow Make Moves That Start Movements?

I’m kicking off the campaign with an assist of my own to Unfinished Business to help Black, Asian, and Latinx small business owners thrive after such a difficult year. I’ll also be looking to further fuel movements in the DMV area and my hometown of Los Angeles and helping to inspire positive change in underserved communities across the country.

Do you have a favorite success story from Unfinished Business’ first round of applicants?

When I learned about Hennessy’s Unfinished Business initiative, I was eager to jump on board to help support these resilient small business owners. Rebuilding our Black, Latinx and Asian businesses is essential to equitable recovery and a more just economic and social future for communities of color. These businesses are essential to the culture of their communities, and I’m constantly looking at ways to help impact the community in any way I can.

Can you tell us about an important or favorite mom-and-pop shop that had an impact on your life?

My mom used to take me and my brother shopping at the Santee Alley downtown, the Roadium Open Air Market, Slauson Swap Meet all of which are made of small individual vendors and we’d also go to Fallas Paredes downtown which is a family-owned company. These places had a big impact on me growing up and my mom still shops at the Santee Alley sometimes.

Have you had to make any new lifestyle habit changes since the COVID-19 pandemic hit?

We’ve all had to make adjustments over the last year. I was fortunate to still be able to keep my routine and work out and play basketball, but it really impacted my kids the most. Like so many other kids, they weren’t able to go to school or play with their friends or do any of the things kids normally do at their age. My wife and I had to make adjustments and get creative on how to keep them active and excited about learning and trying new things even without their friends or our extended family around.

When it comes to style, are there any other players that you look to for inspiration, whether it be because of the sneakers they’ve worn off-court, their collection of grails, or the way they put it all together?

I don’t really pay attention to what anyone else is doing. I like to take risks with my looks. Mix and match colors, patterns, textures… anything that makes me feel good. Fashion is all about confidence, so I just do my own thing and have fun with it.

If you could pick one non-basketball sneaker to wear during a game, what would it be? And vice versa.

I’d have to go with the old school Chuck Taylor Converse. Some of my favorite players from back in the day would wear them and even though they’re not built for the kind of playing we do on the court today, they’d be a cool throwback. Basketball shoe off the court… I’m gonna have to go with my Why Not Zer0.4 collab with FACETASM. It was so fun to work with Hiromichi on the design, the mixing of colors and materials is exactly how I like to dress.

You’ve been seen wearing some serious watches. Have you added any new pieces to your rotation?

I love watches and am always looking to add to my collection, but I haven’t added any new pieces yet this year. I like to look for ones that aren’t like any of the others I have so I can keep mixing them up depending on my outfit and how I’m feeling that day.

As one for consistency, have you switches up your PB&J ritual at all over the years? 

It’s been the same since high school. Skippy peanut butter and strawberry jelly on toasted wheat bread. Never changes.

Check out the preview above to Hennessy’s new film, Take It Far.

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