Lamman Rucker Talks Tyler Perry, Positive Images Of Black Men In Film & TV
Lamman Rucker first began captivating hearts on the small screen when he appeared on TV shows like, Half & Half and All My Children in the early 2000s. But it wasn’t until he played Sheriff Troy, the chocolate hunky hero in Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married, that he really got his female fan base’s full attention. But once all the ogling is done it’s easy to see that beyond Rucker’s physical appearance he has a heart of gold and real talent to match.
Still high on the success of his latest movie release this month, N-Secure, Rucker also just started taping the new season of Meet The Browns. The 39-year old actor also has a bath and bodyline in the works and is working on an off-Broadway play about the Tuskegee Airmen called Black Angels Down. Rucker says he’s simply emulating one of his idols, Paul Robeson, when it comes to artistry, activism and creating more positive images of Black men in the media. VIBE caught up with him to find out why he works so well with Tyler Perry, The Boondocks spoof and working with Kim Fields. ⎯Starrene Rhett
VIBE: What was it about Tyler Perry’s work that drew you to his projects?
Lamman Rucker: I’m all about black folks working together and progressing together. I think it’s very important to work collaboratively and cooperatively with one another so I found Tyler’s work and his overall vision is something that I felt in alignment with. Even though I wasn’t as familiar with his stage plays gradually hearing people buzz about that; he fact that he was getting people into the theater⎯Black folks don’t always go to the theater. Being raised in the theater I also knew had the times when I was doing the plays, especially theatrical drama or in the American classics there weren’t a lot of black folks in the theater so this particular genre that made Tyler popular, I saw value in it, in that it was touching the lives of people from our community. People from our community were identifying with it— it had a message and relevance. And most of the images although there were some negative ones overall I thought he was doing a good job of trying to represent black men in a positive light. So I take a lot of pride in the choices that I’ve made and that people feel I’m worthy of portraying some of the men created whether it’s Troy or Will.
The multi-faceted Black man.
I always try to bring some kind of relevance and some positive image of who and what we are as far as what we’re capable of being as Black men, so that’s why I feel like Tyler and I are on the same page. I think he’s doing the best he can to be a positive Black man and to show that he’s been blessed and he’s got talent and a gift and he has a responsibility to share that with other people and creating opportunities for other people. So I was very excited to share that legacy building an incredible institution that Tyler Perry Studios has become. It’s an honor. It’s great to go to work and your boss is a Black man one of your peers, you know? He’s only a couple of years older than me and he’s pretty much running he show. And Tyler doesn’t try to act like he knows everything. He’s like, ‘Let me bring somebody in here who knows how to do this better than I do so we have a very efficient place that’s very productive.” It’s great people to work with, it’s fun, we get the job done and obviously people are responding, audiences are responding, advertisers are responding. Everybody enjoys working together— it’s a great environment.
Does Tyler Perry favor improv or is he more by the script? Describe his style.
I think it’s a little bit of both and that’s what’s so fun about working with Tyler is that he obviously has the work and I’m finding that when he writes, he writes things pretty fast. He can knock stuff out in a couple of days and then he goes back, tweaks the script and has this revision process but a lot of times the script that we have in hand creates a new life of its own. Tyler does a good job of enabling his actors to bring what they bring. He’s told me a couple of times, ‘Why the hell you think I got you here? I know what I’m doing.’ Then there’s other times where he’s like, ‘Lamman just say it exactly how I want you to say it. I know what I’m doing.’ So there’s that kind of balance between trusting him sometimes and knowing when to trust yourself. And there are times where Tyler throws a wrench in the scene. He’ll whisper something in a another actor’s ear, we start the scene and they’ll say something that’s not in the scene. Tyler knows I’m sharp enough to stay in character and pick up on it and react accordingly.
So you never know what to expect…
There are definitely places where any character at any time has a little room to really have some fun and really use their own creativity and spontaneity and improvisational skills at any given moment. Sometimes we discover things that might make the scene even better. Again, based on what we as actors bring to it that adds an additional layer to what the director or the writers might do. So it’s a cooperative of things. There are times where Tyler comes in and sprinkles a little bit of his magic and then the rest is up to you. And then there’s times where he’s much more direct and hands on so I think he does a nice balance between the two.
What are your thoughts about the controversial Boondocks spoof that people believe is based on Tyler Perry?
I never saw it and I’m happy about that because no disrespect to you, but I think it’s a waste of time to even talk about it. But the real issue is I never had the chance to see it so my only statement would be, I can’t comment on it. But as long as the intent was malicious then I’m not in support of people who try to maliciously harm anybody. But at the same time, this is America and everybody has the right to voice and to have an opinion and to have their commentary on things and people.