By Sonya Jenkins
Actor Lamman Rucker is grinding his way to the top in film and television while mentoring the younger generation – and he’s building a strong foundation by laying one brick at a time. A man of wisdom and class who believes in achieving success the old fashioned way – through hard work, patience and perseverance – Rucker possesses good looks, charm, spiritual fortitude and a sound education.
In Rucker’s most recent film, BLACK COFFEE, an independent romantic comedy, he plays “Hill,” a status hungry man with manipulative ways. While Rucker says he can, indeed, identify with “Hill” when it comes to facing challenges, unlike “Hill,” Rucker says his decisions are based on love. “Where is the love?” Rucker asks in his deep, romantic voice during our conversation via phone on a cold wintry morning. “That’s one of my questions. There is always love in there somewhere. God exists even in the darkest souls on this planet. There is light, but the light is sometimes being overshadowed by some other negative energy, influence or experience.”
Little did I know that Rucker’s ‘love’ statement would not even scratch the surface of the deep thinker’s wisdom during our hour-long conversation. In person Rucker is commanding – exuding warmth in his eyes and boyish dimples that embrace his chiseled face. I had the pleasure of meeting the actor on numerous occasions. When listening to him via phone it’s easy to sense that he is driven by a tenacity to not only succeed in his craft, but to make the world a better place by being a part of the solution – not the problem. The solution, according to Rucker, is through developing traits of “character development,” as well as “physical, mental, and spiritual development.”
“People think that money is just going to make them happy,” Rucker states. “They figure that as long as they’re out here just having fun and enjoying life that that’s all that matters, so there’s a lack of discipline. They’re just out here wild n’ out. And that’s great. Definitely enjoy life. But there’s also a way to enjoy life that has some strategies and some planning and some self-discipline and some character development by making sure you have integrity about what it is that you’re doing. Live your life with some principles. Have some kind of spiritual construct.”
After Rucker’s statement, I ask him if he has ever considered being a preacher. He chuckles and tells me “I am, when you really think about it. Anything we do, especially as artists, is all testimony. We’re all preachers. We’re all teachers. It’s really just a matter of who your congregation is. We’re all serving the same positive energy forces that are on this universe, no matter what language we speak.”
Lamman Rucker is known for his various TV roles, ranging from his soap opera years on “As the World Turns” and “All My Children,” to his role as Dr. Will Brown on “Meet The Browns,” and ‘Chase’ on UPN’s “Half & Half,” just to name a few. He’s also starred in numerous films, including Tyler Perry’s WHY DID I GET MARRIED? and WHY DID I GET MARRIED TOO? Rucker is proud of his accomplishments, but says it’s when people come up to him and tell him he’s made an impact in their life or the life of another that really makes him feel empowered.
“It’s when a sister comes up to me and says, ‘I want my little boy to be just like you’ . . . now that says something. Or when a brother says, ‘I want to let you know you’re out there representing for brothers with the way you carry yourself and you talk intelligently. Keep doing your thing.’ When you have the respect of your brothers like that – on that kind of level – and get that kind of feedback consistently, that says something . Those are the kinds of things that I’m proud of and those are the kinds of things that have taken shape over the last several years - how people have been touched and how people have been changed by the sacrifices that you’re making.”
When not making movies and doing work as an actor, Rucker takes pride in mentoring youth. He says he’s committed to the young people in his life and in his family – to help teach them techniques in living more productive lives. He’s also a founding member of The Black Gents of Hollywood, an all male ensemble of African-American actors driven to resurrect and redefine the positive images of Black males through meaningful youth empowerment initiatives.
“It’s amazing how much even the work that I’m doing on camera and off is also setting an example for them. My commitment to things like that is just as important to me as anything that happens career wise.” Rucker says he appreciates the people who stand by and support his work. “The fact that people seem to be positively impacted and influenced by the commitment that I made and the work that I’m trying to do and the positive, black male image that I try to continue to live by and be a model of – those things are important. You can see that those things are actually paying dividends.”
As Lamman Rucker enlightens me about his spiritual side, his philanthropic nature, his commitment to helping youth and his career – I probe a little into his love life. “I have to ask this for the women who want to know your relationship status. What’s the deal?” I boldly ask. Rucker grunts. “C’mon,” I laugh. Rucker grunts again and finally answers. “I’ll always tease a little bit. I’m single still, because I’m not married. But I am in a relationship.”
“Well, that’s a good thing,” I tell him. “I do wish you success in your relationship.”
Since it was obvious that the subject of his love life made him a tad uncomfortable, I changed the subject – telling Rucker about my acting pursuits and how I was getting my feet wet in the craft. In return, Rucker shares with me how he almost became a journalist and seriously thought about doing broadcast work – covering intriguing topics and sports. He said he even envisioned having his own talk show. “You never know how certain things are going to happen or take shape,” he says. “You’ve just got to follow your spirit – not be afraid to close a door, because sometimes that’s when another one opens. Understand your limitations, but at the same time, don’t give yourself any limitations. Just go for it. Keep getting your feet wet and sticking your toes in the water.”
So what is Rucker’s advice to aspiring actors? “Well, one is education,” he says. Rucker has an undergraduate degree in Information Technology and a master’s degree in Education.“And I think that people really, really need to understand that this industry is a business and you really need to understand business in general and how business actually works and how commerce and economics and all of that actually function in this country.” Rucker says a lot of people want success, but don’t want to lay the bricks. He explains, “If you’re going to build a house you can’t just show up and just expect the house to just be there. If it’s your house, you need to build it – brick by brick. If it’s a relationship that’s going to have a strong foundation, what do you think it’s going to be built on? It’s a lot of work. It’s worth the work and it’s worth the time, particularly if you do a little bit everyday. If you try to do it all at one time it’s less likely to manifest itself. You have to really be aggressive and creative about manifesting your destiny. I believe we all are destined for great things, but we have to meet God halfway.”
Rucker has several film projects underway. Some include LOVE WON’T LET ME WAIT, FIRST IMPRESSION, and Carl Weber’s THE MAN IN 3B. But in the midst of all the work, Rucker is staying true to himself and his values. “I’ve had more time to actually apply the teachings and philosophies I share,” he says. “I’m in the process of staying obedient to the things I’ve been doing, but also not being afraid to do something different if I choose, or if life requires that of me. It’s called balance. I’ve had to slow myself down so that I can make sure that the children in my life and in my family are okay.”
Rucker believes the things that separate those who make it in show business and those that don’t are simply the ones who have a plan, persevere and are willing to do the behind-the-scenes work. “People who don’t have a plan continue to be chasers,” Rucker says. “People who don’t have the tools continue to be chasers. There’s also a patience you must have – where you’re not afraid to do the work – especially with a lot of young people. I keep trying to tell them, ‘Shut your mouth, be still and do the work.’ It’s kinda old school.”
“Old School” or not, it’s clear that Lamman Rucker is a man of distinction who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk.
____________________________________________________________________________________BLACK COFFEE is presently playing at AMC Southlake 24 and AMC Stonecrest in Atlanta. For more information about the film, go here: www.blackcoffeemovie.com.