by Tangerine Clarke
(Caribbean Life) Award winning television and screen actor, Sean Patrick Thomas said a disciplined Guyanese upbringing definitely moulded him into the person he is today.
“My family lived in Wilmington, Delaware where we were considered different in our neighborhood because we were the only black people, who were Guyanese,” said Thomas, whose success brought him to the bright lights of Broadway in the role of Asagai in a “Raising in the Sun.”
This is the same play that got Thomas noticed at the University of Virginia, his alma mater where he was encouraged to take up acting by his drama teacher.
“We have a great ensemble cast, and when I walk off the stage after the show, fans come up to me and say I enjoy your character, I relate to the role you play. That makes me feel good that I did my job well,” Thomas said of the role alongside Denzel Washington that ends June 15.
He added, “Fans also say I enjoyed seeing you in the movie – “Save The Last Dance,” or on TV, and I am glad to see you on the Broadway stage.”
“Playing Asagai on Broadway is satisfying for me as an actor,” noted Thomas who no doubt was born for this role in “Raisin in the Sun.” He was nominated for an Image Award in 2009, for Outstanding Actor in a mini series.
Thomas said he never had the desire to become an engineer like his father. “I was never a math and science guy. I did o.k. with B’s, but I was more enthusiastic about history and English.
In an exclusive telephone interview from his New York location recently, Thomas recalled that his parents made education a top priority in his Guyanese household.
His mother, Cheryl, a retired financial analyst, and father Carlton, an engineer, who both worked for DuPont, celebrated with loud applause when “you brought home a good report card, a diploma from a graduating class, or an award,” the actor added.
“My father was very disciplined, very focused, and he took his job of being a dad seriously.”
“There was never a day where I felt he wasn’t thinking about my siblings and me. He taught us how to improve our lives for adulthood,” said the actor whose dance steps alongside actress Julia Styles in “Save The Last Dance” won him an MTV award for the breakout role.
His dad, now deceased, would have said, “Way to go, I am proud of you,” he said.
An exceptionally-talented professional, Thomas is one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood, clinching the role of Detective Temple in TV’s The District.” He also had parts in “Barber Shop 2,” “Conspiracy Theory,” “Reaper,” “Halloween Resurrection,” “Cruel Intentions” and “The Burrowers.”
The stage production of “Amen Corner” took him to Atlanta, under the direction of Kenny Leon, who directed him in “A Raisin In the Sun.”
Thomas’ triumphant acting career has no doubt satisfied his mom, who wanted him to become a lawyer.
“I am grateful that she did resist that I wanted to do something else. She allowed me to try acting to see how it would play out.”
Today, his mother could not be more proud of his success. But despite his enormous accomplishments, the illustrious actor says he stays close to his Guyanese relatives, even picking up his favorite Guyanese foods: Roti and Curry, Tennis Rolls and Pepperpot, when he visits his aunt Lynn in Brooklyn.
The 43-year-old intensely focused actor said, “It would be nice to receive an award for my work. But I act because I love doing it. I am satisfied just working to support my family, and becoming a better actor than I am today.”
Evelyn Thomas, his aunt, said: When I saw my nephew on the Broadway stage, and heard his voice echo through the audience, I knew he had achieved greatness in entertainment. “His performance was awesome,” she said, adding that Sean is a down-to-earth, loving dad. He is a phenomenal person.
With his gorgeous wife, New Orleans native and actress Aonika Laurent at his side, the Fine Arts Master’s Degree graduate, says he plans on sharing his culture with his family during his second visit to Guyana.
While there, the father of two would like to share his acting skill at the Theatre Guild Playhouse in Georgetown.
But for now, Thomas, who no doubt will win the Tony Award, and an Academy Award in the future, is eager to play the role of black-super hero.
“I would like to be on a good cable-TV series like “Game of Thrones,” “Madmen” or “House of Cards,” added the superstar.
Playing the role of James Bond is also at the top of his list