Spotlight on J LaMont Thomas of MuZecutive Productions
Culturocity recently interviewed J LaMont Thomas of MuZecutive Productions, which has its official launch Sunday, October 27th, 2013.
Culturocity: What is MuZecutive Productions? What distinguishes it from other production companies?
JLT: Our slogan is “The epitome of authenticity.” What that means is trying to be something unique. There are a lot of production companies out there. I’m trying to do something different. Trying to get Black plays to be universal to everybody and expose our stories to everybody. In my writing I portray the male as the rock as the family. Black men are often portrayed as cheaters or abusers, or the ones who leave and don’t take care of their responsibilities. It’s always Auntie and Grandma being portrayed as the backbone of the family. That isn’t the only story we have. I grew up with a father, around a lot of strong men, including my brothers. That’s part of our story too: strong men supporting their families. People need to see that side of us.
Culturocity: Musically, what are you trying to present? Are you focusing on any particular genre?
JLT: I enjoy good music, whether it’s country, rap, gospel, R & B, anything. I don’t want to be pigeonholed as gospel or anything else that will limit our reach or narrow our audience. As an artist, I try not to be chitlin’ circuit. I try not to use the terms gospel and church to describe myself, but it is a mix. Songs that are more jazz, R & B, contemporary, just music about life.
I want to bring positive music that uplifts and inspires people. Of course I’ve been heavily influenced by gospel, being in church, and with my father being in ministry. Again, there are many facets to our story. I want to tell some different ones than what everyone else is trying to do.
Culturocity: You’ve mentioned your father a couple of times. How big of an influence has your father been in your life in general, and in what you’re doing now as a producer?
JLT: If it wasnt for my father, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. My father’s name is LaVerne Thomas. He is a minister. He has been my biggest supporter. My father taught me how to read. I learned to read when I was three or four years old. My mom, Harriet Thomas, was a school teacher, and she was very busy. My dad took us out and taught us to play ball, play tennis, ride bikes, tie our shoes. My dad was instrumental in us getting involved in music. He was like Joe Jackson without all the beatings. As far as MuZecutive, he was the main investor and supporter. He was the one who said “if it doesn’t do thus and so by a certain amount of time, I’ve got you covered.” That’s just how my dad is. I couldn’t imagine doing this without the support of my dad.
Culturocity: That’s amazing. How many siblings do you have?
JLT: I have four brothers and one sister. My parents have been together for 33 years. They have had a tremendous influence on all of us.
Culturocity: That’s wonderful. So what’s on the horizon for MuZecutive Productions? What can we expect to see coming from you in the immediate future?
JLT: I will be contributing some songs to my brother Jeremy’s next album in 2014. Be on the lookout for an album release from Jeremy Thomas around sometime next Spring, and there will be songs on there that I’ve contributed. Additionally, I’ve been contracted to direct and produce the Ms. Black UCO 30th Anniversary, February 8th of next year. I’m doing a play I wrote, called Shame, in 2014. Auditions will be held around late November or early December, with production in March or April. Shame is about a teenaged boy who was sent to foster care as a young kid. It split him from his family. He is reunited with his family, and it goes through the process of figuring out why they were split up. A lot of twists and turns.
Culturocity: You’ve got quite a collection of artists on deck for your launch. How did you choose and assemble them?
JLT: Jeremy is my brother and music director. That was a no brainer. Thaddaeus & Alexis go to the Net Church. I’ve known them since I did some things there a few years ago and they sang the songs. They’ve let me know from the beginning that whenever I need them and whatever I need them to do, they’re there. Same thing with Philip & Toya. Chanda went to my childhood church, and she is an amazing talent. Deon was on the program, but he is actually going to be out of town. Cooki and I, we go way back to my first year in college. Her album release party is this weekend, and we’re supporting one another.
Culturocity: You’ve also been involved in theatre for a while. What have you been up to recently? How did you first get involved in theatre?
JLT: Of course I recently played Jim Bono in Fences at Poteet Theatre. Fences was my favorite thing I’ve done dramatically. It really pushed me out there. If it wasn’t for Fences, I might still be saying I don’t know if I should get out there yet. Then of course I’ve done Soul on Fire, which will be touring again soon. In Soul on Fire, I play a supporting role as the son of the Chief of Police. And I also play a demon. I’ve been with Soul on Fire since October of 2010.
In high school, my sophomore year, I got involved in speech and debate, and ended up participating in the National Forensic League. Judges would always say I was very animated. My speech and debate coach told me to get into drama. Brett Young, a very well known actor and director, was my drama teacher at Westmoore High School. I was cast in a lead role in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the rest is history.
Culturocity: What is your brand as an individual? What is your philosophy for the way you live your life and conduct your business?
JLT: Everything I try to do, I try to do it in excellence. Never stop trying to do things in excellence.
Culturocity: Tell us something about J Lamont Thomas that may surprise us.
JLT: I love to cook. My favorite show is Top Chef. I try to cook what I see on TV. I’m actually pretty good at it. All my friends will attest to that.
(Editor’s note: I can attest to that. Best macaroni and cheese on the planet.)
Culturocity: What advice would you give to young artists or entrepreneurs who are looking to get out there and follow their dreams?
JLT: Take that first step. That can seem like one of the hardest things to do. I’ve been trying to launch for over 3 years. You have to fight discouragement. The temptation is to keep saying “maybe I’ll do it next year.” When you think about getting out there, it can feel like you’re putting yourself out there for ridicule. You’ve got to get the courage. My main thing before I took the first step was I had a lot of questions. I was unsure of a lot of things. Would I be good enough? Would people support me? I finally realized that I would never really know the answer until I took the first step. I did, and the support has been amazing.
Speaking of support, let’s show some. Don’t miss the launch of MuZecutive Productions, Sunday October 27th at 5:30 PM at Greater Concord Baptist Church, 2522 N. Shartel Avenue, OKC.