Computer science often seems like a field open only to people who are fully dedicated to computing and mathematics. However, this could not be further from the truth. High-profile celebrities around the world have told their fans that they know how to code and that they also value learning to code.
It’s not difficult to understand why these celebrities are interested in programming. After all, coding not only unlocks job opportunities—according to the non-profit Code.org, there are nearly 500,000 “[o]pen computing jobs” in the U.S. alone—but knowing how to code can help you solve problems more effectively.
Here’s why these Black celebrities — that you may not have known were into coding — are learning the skill.
Serena Williams is a professional tennis player who has won 23 major singles titles throughout her career—the most won by any woman or man. Williams holds more Grand Slam titles than any other active player in the game.
Williams is both a world-class tennis player and a student of code. In 2018, at a Teen Vogue Summit in Los Angeles, Williams told a crowd of young people that she was learning how to code: “[Coding is] really important to me, especially because my fashion business is all online. It’s never too late to start.” In addition, Williams has invested in a number of technology companies through her venture capital firm, Serena Ventures.
William Adams, who you’ll likely know as will.i.am, is a rapper, singer, DJ, and songwriter. But not only has will.i.am attained fame in music, he also knows how to code.
He has recorded four solo albums and is also the front man in the Grammy-winning group the Black Eyed Peas. He has also produced music for other artists, such as Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake, and Nicki Minaj, and has starred on the television talent show series “The Voice UK,” “The Voice Australia,” and “The Voice Kids.”
In an interview for VentureBeat in 2013, will.i.am was asked, “What’s cooler: music or computer programming?” He responded, “Coding. By about 10 times. A trillion times. It’s the most creative space.” In the interview, will.i.am revealed he was taking courses online to learn how to code. He also mentioned how code allows him to “create operating systems of my own or apps that allow me to make music.”
Chris Bosh is both an NBA champion and a tech-savvy coder. In his professional career, Bosh was named an NBA All-Star five times while playing for the Toronto Raptors. Bosh joined the Miami Heat in 2010. In Miami he became one of the “Big Three” alongside Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
From a young age, Chris Bosh was interested in technology. In an opinion piece for Wired, Bosh notes that his parents were both interested in tech and that in high school, he joined the computer graphics club, the Association of Minority engineers, and the National Society of Black Engineers. When he was accepted into Georgia Tech, Bosh started writing computer code as part of his studies.
Though Bosh was drafted into the NBA before finishing his degree, he has continued to stay close to coding. In the Wired piece, Bosh discusses the value of knowing how to code: “We use code every time we’re on the phone, on the web, out shopping – it’s become how our world is run. So I take comfort in having a basic understanding of how something as big as this works.”
While not much is known about the extent of these celebrities’ coding skills, it’s clear that coding is not just a skill for technologists; it is a skill for everyone. If you put your mind to your studies and are focused on learning how to code, you can learn programming, just like will.i.am, Chris Bosh, and Serena Williams.