Ernest L. Thomas is a veteran of Broadway, television and film. He starred as the popular character Raj in the ABC hit sitcom, What’s Happening and What’s Happening Now. Award-winning director Spike Lee chose him to play Sidney X opposite Denzel Washington in Malcolm X and he played Mr. Omar on Chris Rock’s Everybody Hates Chris. TV Guide chose him as one of America’s favorite actors. Exposure Magazine was excited to meet up with Ernest as he prepares for his book release event at the Writers Guild Theatre in Beverly Hills Saturday September 9th. We hope this interview motivates you to chase your dreams!
Exposure Magazine: Did you always know that acting was your gift?
Ernest L. Thomas: No I didn’t know that acting was my gift for a long time. I was a late bloomer. The awareness of my gift came in college. I never thought in a million years that I would be a successful actor. As they say Gods plan for us is always greater than the plans we have for ourselves.
Exposure Magazine: How did you land your first role?
Ernest L. Thomas: I was a student in my second year at the American Academy of dramatic arts and I was in a play written by Tennessee Williams. It was titled This Property Is Condemned. From that play I booked my first professional role opposite Robert Guillaume and F Murray Abraham. The play titled The Miracle play written by Joyce Carol Oates. I got a great review from Kathleen Carroll in The Daily News so I was on cloud nine. I was in heaven.
Exposure Magazine: Did you have mentors who helped you along the way?
Ernest L. Thomas: Yes Mike Toma. He was head of the American Academy and he was very instrumental in me getting a major role by taking the time to work with me on the character and he also told me about being professional. Being on time and knowing everything I needed to know about the play and the role was great advice he gave me. Max Fisher was also a great mentor he directed me in Tennessee Williams play this property is condemned and he took me aside and really gave me great advice about not being afraid of fear by studying and knowing for certain the character you’re playing and do it boldly With No Reservations.
Exposure Magazine: Have you encountered obstacles on your journey? How have you overcome them?
Ernest L. Thomas: Well the main obstacle any actor or anyone seeking two attain a great goal is fear. Fear is always present and doubt sometimes and low self-esteem. I overcame them through prayer, meditation, affirmations and reading the Bible. I also read Think Grow Rich by Napolean Hill.
Exposure Magazine: How important is faith and God when you work in the entertainment industry?
Ernest L. Thomas: It’s extremely important. It’s the main thing that I depend on. Without my faith in God there’s no way I would have made it in entertainment. The one scripture in particular that always let me know anything was possible was I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Even during my rebel days when I was in the belly of the beast partying and doing drugs my faith was still present lying dormant but God raised me up again.
Exposure Magazine: Congratulations on your book From Raj To Riches, tell me about it?
Ernest L. Thomas: “From Raj to Riches” is my testimony of faith in God and all the miracles I have experienced. When I was born when my mother wanted to abort me and I discuss this and all of my challenges and triumphs in this book. My book was written for the purpose of inspiring people to achieve their dreams by giving them a blueprint on how to do it. My book is about having supernatural faith to get supernatural results.
Exposure Magazine: What’s next for you?
Ernest L. Thomas: I’m very excited about this latter half of my life and I am forever grateful to God for the young directors who are fans of mine and give me challenging roles in their movies. Very excited about touring with my book From Raj To Riches and I’m excited about developing new talent.