Rasheem Ford is making a living by doing what he loved most as a child, acting.
Straight out of college Ford starred in his first national tour performing as a co-host in Sesame Street Live: Let’s Dance! He has an international tour under his belt as a cast member in Korean fairy tale Sunfish: A New Musical and appeared in numerous local theater projects such as West Side Story, Rent, Sister Act and other titles.
Performing has been a hobby of his since he was a toddler growing up in Long Island, New York.
The arts scene “it’s everywhere, literally, in the backyard,” Ford said.
As a kid he would act out what he saw on television or live performances in front of his family members. He not only acted, as a kid he sang in his church’s choir practicing a skill he thanks his father’s side for blessing him with.
Singing the ABC’s and dancing at age nine has prepared him for today, as well as going through auditions at age 10, which had given him a feel for the industry early on, says Ford.
“New York is the perfect outlet for” learning about performing arts, Ford said. “You learn about work ethic.”
In high school he continued performing in local community shows and picked up dancing again, learning ballet. While appearing in numerous theatrical productions he landed his first national tour after graduating from SUNY Cortland. In the middle of a dancing session he stepped out of the gymnasium he was in to answer a phone call. So shocked he got the part he even asked the caller, “are you serious?”
“You hope to get things but when you actually get it you’re really excited,” he said.
Not only would he co-host Sesame with colleague Kayleigh Shuler, he was given creative control over his newly developed character.
“It was boom,” Ford said. “Your first national tour and you get to originate a role.”
Using every experience as a learning experience, touring was a learning curve he picked up. He learned to take care of himself by making sure he maintained good health on the road to perform many shows in a short time span. Learning other facets of the industry is an interest of Ford who would like to explore directing with his goal to be “well rounded in all aspects.”
The ultimate goal, like many actors, is to perform in the prestigious venue an hour away from his hometown, Broadway.
I want to “be successful doing what I love,” he said.
The triple threat with talents in singing, acting and dancing looks for roles that suit his skills and that he can relate to. Building on his strengths, he has realized that being a good listener has paid dividends for him as it is a trait that’s helped him be the team player he is, which is crucial when collaborating with other actors.
Returning to a familiar country, Ford will play Tiny Joe Dixon in the play Dreamgirls. February 18 the cast will come together for rehearsals before heading off to perform in South Korea early March.
Throughout Ford’s life he has been able to make a career of his childhood passion, something he urges aspiring actors to do as well.
“If you truly have a passion for it, do it,” he said. “Never give up. Never stop learning.”
By Gino Terrell