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Actor tracing his Bajan roots


Actor tracing his Bajan roots

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LAMMAN RUCKER is known for his acting role as the handsome star of Tyler Perry’s Meet The Browns TV series and the compassionate Sheriff Troy in the motion picture Why Did I get Married? and Why Did I Get Married Too? alongside Janet Jackson, Jill Scott and other black actors.
What many may not know is that Lamman has Barbadian roots. He came into the island Friday for the Back To Black social event and sat down with the SUNDAY SUN at the Settlers Beach Hotel in Holetown, St James, for a brief chat.
By Lamman’s telling, the family history is still a bit sketchy. He knows his grandfather Ebenezer Ray lived in St Michael before emigrating to the United States. This was revealed through a blog written by Ebenezer’s daughter and his aunt Elaine Ray, a journalist.
It seems that his grandfather was born in 1897 in Barbados. In 1923 he lived in Bermuda for six months and worked at a printer there.
He arrived on Ellis Island, New York, aboard the SS Fort Victoria on November 1, 1923 at age 26 from Bermuda. His mother died at her Brittons Hill residence in 1936, a month after her husband.
Ebenezer lived in New York for many years, working as a reporter and a weekly columnist for the New York Age for about 20 years, from 1925 to 1945. He then moved to Pittsburgh, marrying twice and raising a family while working in the composing room of the Pittsburgh Courier before he was disabled by Parkinson’s disease. He also dabbled in photography.
“I never met him,” Lamman said. “He died when my mum was a teenager . . . .
He was very sick. I found out about him when I was very young,” he added, pointing out that Ebenezer was his mother’s father
“I have tried but couldn’t find anything about him in Barbados.”
In the blog there was a mention of a brother Noel who worked at the Barbados Advocate.
Lamman was born and raised in Pittsburgh in an artistic family. His mother was a dancer and choreographer and his dad a drummer of African beats. He says his mum told him that she danced throughout her pregnancy with him.
He is so passionate about the arts that he jumped at the chance to visit “home”, even though it is for work commitments.
Last night Barbadian choreographer, producer, playwright and wearer of many other hats, Trevor Pretty, who met Lamman through mutual friends, launched his Back To Black Foundation aimed at helping teens who want to launch, develop and support their artistic careers internationally. Lamman was his featured guest.
“As an artist and a teacher I am committed to expanding that area,” Lamman said.
“Even if I didn’t have Bajan roots I would still support it because I am passionate about it. I will support anything about art or artistic that helps the development of my people.”
Lamman is just not an actor; he is also an educator, philanthropist, activist and spokesperson for several non-profit organizations. His passion has led him to be a founding member of an all-black male theatre company called the Black Gents Of Hollywood whose powerful play Black Angels Over Tuskegee about Tuskegee airmen was on Broadway. Lamman plays an airman called Elijah.
A graduate of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC, Lamman said his early career interests were firefighting, basketball, law, football and soccer.
“Yes, I love soccer; I grew up playing that,” he said.
He acquired a Master’s in education in 2000 because he was interested
in helping the youth and wanted to give back to the community. He has released a spoken word single Waiting On You, proceeds of which help the arts
and academic programmes at his alma mater in Washington.
He is thinking of talking with the Barbados Government and the University of the West Indies about creating some programme for prevention, education and testing initiatives for HIV/AIDS and other issues he is tackling at Hampton University.
Lamman now resides in New York and Los Angeles because of work.
In view of the Oscars tonight, he revealed his feelings on black roles and black actors.
“We get cheesy roles, difficult roles and rarely hard-to-get roles,” he complained. “I have had to turn down roles because you can’t say yes to all. I want roles that I can stand by and be proud of. Not roles for money.
 “I have a value system. And I like roles that have layers in them . . . . I like emotional roles and I find male actors don’t get a lot of those.”
 Lamman is leaving the island tomorrow to get back into the work mode and hopes soon to start promoting his new film with Isaiah Washington called The Under Shepherd about two best friends who are youth ministers in a Baptist church,their rise and fall.
Lamman hasn’t given up trying to find out about his past. He has visited the island four times already and will be back to sort out his family tree and probably his dual citizenship.
 He recalls meeting Soca Queen Alison Hinds while doing a promo with WBLS radio, with Dahved Levy and others.
 I hit her up to let her know I was coming but we were going in opposite directions because I was leaving New York and she was coming to New York.
“She performed at the show. I can remember everything about the show. But that’s Alison . . . . She’s a legend and everything about her is legendary,” he said before heading off to Bridgetown to sample some Caribbean cuisine for lunch.