Acting wasn’t always Lamman Rucker’s first choice. Yes, he’s been in a multitude of movies, on soap operas, and TV shows. But at one point, Rucker thought basketball was his calling. A forward for Duquesne University, he went semi pro, playing and touring with Pittsburgh teams.
But life changed when a chance to go overseas and a shot at the NBA created a crossroads. It was one where he straddled a handful of paths ranging from sports and school, to family, adopting, teaching, and Hollywood. Now, with four movies in the can, Rucker finds himself again, at a crossroads.
In this exclusive interview with The Shadow League, Lamman opens up about the key decisions that changed his life then, and how those similar moments seem to be returning now.
Raqiyah Mays: When and what made you pick the Hollywood path?
Lamman Rucker: That was one of the most trying times for me. It's a challenge to not have any options. But it's also a challenge to have that many options trying to figure what road I turn down. Do I turn down this way? Go to the left? Do I go to the right? Go down the middle? Go down that winding road? Do I take the thing that's right in front of me that I know I can do? Or do I go for the thing that's a little further away from me that’s maybe that bigger risk? I've done a combination of those things. Luckily what I've been able to do is pretty much all of it. I haven't been able to play [basketball] at the highest levels and I wasn't even a standout in college, but I could play the game. I was good, I was strong, I was athletic, I was multi-dimensional and there was always that opportunity to continue to go somewhere and contribute and get better. I could totally have seen myself making a career out of it. But I guess that at some point, I believe I would have been right back here. This is what I was ordained to do, gifted to do.
RM: What were the other options?
LR: The other options were law school and my MBA. That's not even [counting] the personal choices and the relationship I was in at the time. It's like, ‘Do I go there and try to really invest in that and make that happen? Do we move in together? Do I need to have some kids?’ I lost my brother, so I remember at one point even considering adopting my niece. Then I had two Godbabies who lost their mothers at one point. So I was like, ‘Should I take these babies myself and raise them? Do I need to be the one that needs to take care of them?’ Man it was nuts.
RM: So you made your decision. Of course to be an actor is commitment and focus, what made you say, ‘This is it?’
LR: I mean really, it was the fact that I had shifted my priorities and put acting on the back burner to a large degree. During the off season I was doing theater or modeling, doing stuff for film, television, commercials, billboards, I mean, whatever. I was teaching, I was coaching. So there were all kind of other things and people that were important to me. Even my students, my job, my players, teammates, these are things that were alright. ‘I like what I'm doing, this is something that I'm gonna continue to nurture and when I'm ready to go, I'll be ready to go.’ I'm glad I took my time, because once I was ready to go, I was ready to go.
RM: So where is Lamman today? What’s your focus?
LR: Honestly, my focus is on continuing to build my brand, build my companies up. My bath and body care line, an entertainment company. I also have a commercial property company [to] do entrepreneurial ventures to give back to Pittsburgh and DC. And [I have] a production company that I'm formulating, positioning myself strategically in a number of different ways. I've been doing a lot of different speaking engagements. I'm doing a lot more environmental work.
RM: So… Are you leaving the biz?
LR: I'm looking forward to how my life will change personally in the next few years. Whether that's a relationship and marriage or children or whatever. Whether I'm gonna move or stay in Los Angeles or not. Even the children in my life are either in college or getting ready to come out of college, and I had a lot to do with getting them there and helping them through that phase in their lives. It's an interesting time. Literally within the next three years, and most definitely five, so much is gonna be different to think of it that way. Maybe even sooner. As a spiritual being I can feel myself listening to myself, listen to what my spirit is telling me and guiding me and where I need to really kind of focus my energy and my gifts and my understanding. I'm just trying to gradually look for, getting, and receiving a lot of clarity little by little.
RM: Well, I know you’ve got a few things going on now. A small indie film, Black Coffee. Another movie, Man in 3B coming…
LR: All those. Black Coffee is out on DVD. We're all excited about that. It did quite well in the theaters. AMC independent distributed it. Very grateful for the investment from RLJ Entertainment and 1555 and Tri Destined and the partner that helped make that film successful. Another Tri Destined project is The Man in 3B. And everybody's really excited about that one. It's gonna be some serious anticipation once word starts really getting out about that one. First Impression is also a really cute film. But more currently there's a film called Where's the Love where Denise Boutte, who plays my lovely wife Sasha in Meet the Browns. We play husband and wife again in a movie for Up TV, where we play marriage therapists who are having internal problems of their own. So it's a real interesting film and you'll see a lot of cameos and guest appearances, Terry J. Vaughn, David Banner, Letoya Luckett. It's a cute film, dealing with issues that we don't always honestly talk about when it comes to life, love, work, coexisting together. That's a challenge for all of us. [I’ve got] my bath and body line by Lamman Rucker.
TSL: And you run a non-profit. Black Gents of Hollywood. What’s your goal?
LR: Black Gents of Hollywood is my not for profit that I co-founded with fellow partners of mine in Los Angeles, a collective of artist and scholars and entrepreneurs. Basically, it's a group of gentleman who are committed to entertainment and education through the arts, and positive black male images, community outreach, and youth empowerment service to our young people. Uplifting them. We've been doing a lot over the last few years and going through some transition and internal movement and restructuring. But [it’s] a really exciting time, rebranding some things.
RM: Nice. So you’re juggling a lot. Seems like you’re at another crossroads with a lot to consider.
LR: A lot of work, a lot to look forward to, and the year's already…. Time flies. So I wish it would slow down a little bit, because I got a whole lot of work and very little time to do it. I'm just trying to savor it all, trying to stay active, not take any day for granted. But at the same time you gotta take your time and smell the roses and remember to be grateful every moment.