Pulp

Q&A with stage performer, SU alum Tramaine Ford

Tramaine Montell Ford is a jack-of-all-trades. Since graduating in 2006, the Syracuse University alumnus has appeared in ‘Hairspray,’ ‘Saturday Night Live’ and danced backup for Lady Gaga in 2007’s NewNowNext Awards. He recently released a self-titled EP on iTunes and also models. Ford chatted with The Daily Orange about his career and new play ‘The Tramaine Experience: An Urban Dramedy,’ a one-man show being performed at the Syracuse Stage at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The Daily Orange: What was the inspiration for your one-man show and its five characters?

Ford: I created the show mostly around my life growing up in the Cabrini Green projects in Chicago. The neighborhood had a lot of obstacles, which I represent metaphorically in my show. A lot of my peers were getting involved in gang activity. Sometimes there were random shootings between rival gangs, and young people would be killed.

The New York Times described your show as ‘hilarious and touching.’ Are any scenes based on specific childhood memories?

The characters I play are based on influences I was around as a kid. It’s exciting to play characters I created at a younger age and develop them more deeply. People from my neighborhood expressed that me pursuing my dreams had inspired people. I thought, ‘Wow, I can inspire others.’ Going after your dreams despite obstacles is a great message to share.

You’ve participated in a wide array of projects. How do you manage it all?

My interest in performing has a very wide scope. I’ve been very open to all those different areas because I genuinely love it, so if I go too long without doing something creative or artistic, I go crazy. It’s how I’ve managed for the most part to make my living off being an artist.

Do you have advice for current students on trying to make it in show business?

I would tell them to really tap into the joy and fun of being at Syracuse because when you’re a professional there’s this whole business side to it. I think sometimes students don’t fully have that experience because they’re worried about other things like auditioning and grades. For me, it was about being free to learn and the joy of growing as an artist.

What are some projects you’re working on now?

I’m working on a tour of another show geared towards elementary school kids. I tour around to schools in the boroughs of New York City and perform a show about healthy lifestyle habits like eating and exercise. It’s an organization with the same mission as Michelle Obama’s obesity campaign, so we’re trying to get Michelle’s attention.

You’re also involved with several nonprofit programs, including the Adolescent AIDS Program along with Cabrini Connections, where you yourself were mentored. How does that experience connect to your show?

It’s all tied to the whole purpose of my show and its message. The show culminates in a metaphor of the lotus flower, the only flower that grows out of mud. You find it in swamps. Even though it grows out of mud, the petals appear to be untouched. They’re still pure and beautiful. It’s the message that you can blossom out of murky circumstances.

rjmarvin@syr.edu

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