Actor Tommy Ford Coaches Young Actors; Encourages Them to Be Fearless
What drew you to this project?
I have a passion for young people. I think it’s so important that our kids dare to dream, explore, and create new worlds for themselves. This film was exciting to me because it follows the journey of a kid that doesn’t fit into the status quo. But, he accepts the facts that although many of our destinies may be similar, our journey, purpose, and paths are all very special, unique and custom-made for each of us.
Where you were born and raised:
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, [but spent] most of my life in the city of Long Beach, Calif.
What is your background in the industry?
I’ve been in the entertainment industry for more than 30 years. My first professional play, I was 17-years-old and a senior in high school. My first union film was Eddie Murphy’s Harlem Nights in 1989.
Why do you mentor?
I mentor because it’s my job. God blesses me so that I can be a blessing to others. The more I use my gift to bless others, the more blessings God provides for me.
How do you assess your mentee (student)?
My mentee was very knowledgeable about the industry. One had success in his field so he was very confident. I think the biggest lesson I want them to receive is. We never stop growing. We never stop learning. But, most importantly, yes. Knowledge is power. But, the respect and execution of that knowledge is wisdom.
What is the ideal mentor-student relationship?
I believe that there are three ingredients to a healthy mentor-mentee relationship. There has to be mutual respect for what each artist brings to the table. Each must be open to being affected by one another’s gifts. Each artist’s voice must be heard. Both participants have unique and special experiences that shape who they are and their perspectives. This individuality requires freedom to share their voices and confidence that their voice will be heard.
How would you describe your personal style?
My style is nurture by letting them know “I hear you. I trust you. I’m here to support you and not judge you.”
How do you give credit where credit is due?
Using positive words of encouragement: “You did a great job.” “That was a great choice.” “That was a good choice.” “What did we learn from this experience that can help you later?” “How can I benefit you more?”
How do you show others that you believe in them?
By being there for them, offering words of encouragement, giving them compliments and affirmation.
Who has influenced you the most?
My family is most influential to me. There has never or will never be a time in my life that I feel like I have no one in my corner, no one to call on or no one to love me. I’m the oldest of four brothers and sisters, and of over 100 grandchildren and great grandchildren. I have so much love in my life that influences me. I can’t fail when everyone around me anchors.
How do you guide your student to approach the unknown?
With these words: “I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” I want students to know that fear is normal. Also, I want them to know that we must fear fear, not failure. The Bible teaches us fear of evil, failure and disaster is displeasing to God. Don’t fear to explore, challenge and experience new accomplishments.