For a guy with a serious mission, will.i.am is still a lot of fun to interview. A force of nature who tosses around clever word play like the hit songwriter he is, will.i.am sat down with HitFix to tell us about how he got involved with the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship, a contest for kids K-12 who get to show off their science geek talents by creating robots who can not only follow orders, but (hopefully) master obstacle courses. His special featuring the championship (and performances by the Peas and Willow Smith as well as special comments from big names including Bono, Justin Bieber, Miranda Cosgrove, Justin Timberlake, Jack Black and President Obama) airs Sunday, Aug. 14 at 7p.m. on ABC.
Though will.i.am says he's a science "enthusiast" instead of a mastermind like these kids, how he got this special off the ground still required some creative thinking. After Segway creator Dean Kamen convinced him to get the Black Eyed Peas to perform at the 20th Annual FIRST Championship, will.i.am decided that the show should really be televised. Knowing that the networks wouldn't exactly be jumping up and down to air a TV special about a kids' science competition, will.i.am had the bright idea of buying the network time and selling the ads himself.
During our conversation, will.i.am was bubbling over with ideas on just about every topic, but what he kept coming back to was how inspiring these kids are. Will.i.am hopes that kids will get as excited about technology as he is -- and have no doubt, his enthusiasm is as infectious as a good dance beat.