HAMPTON, Va. (Oct. 18, 2017) – Hundreds of freshmen screamed and yelled when actor Lamman Rucker hit the stage at Ogden Hall Monday, kicking off Hampton University’s homecoming week.
Dashing good looks and hard work led him on a career path that started with daytime soap operas (“As the World Turns” and “All My Children”) before landing roles in feature films like Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married?”, “Why Did I Get Married Too?”, “Meet the Browns” and its television adaptation. Today, he stars in the Oprah Winfrey Network drama, “Greenleaf.”
Rucker's homecoming speech is also part of Hampton University's celebration of 150 years of academic excellence as well as 40 years of inspirational leadership from its president, Dr. William R. Harvey.
“To have Lamman Rucker visit our university and remind students of their place in history rings so true, especially as we pause to remember 150 years of unparelleled excellence and my 40 years at this great university,” Dr. Harvey said.
Rucker connected with students and raised eyebrows with inspirational words of wisdom with a reminder of their heritage.
“You guys are at an exciting time in your lives and I want you to be excited,” Rucker said. “But, at the same time, don’t play yourselves either. What I know about Hampton University and its reputation is that this is an exceptional institution. You are privileged to be here.”
Rucker’s talents span far beyond the bright lights and red carpets. The 46-year-old star holds a master’s degree in education and is considering pursuing a Ph.D. from Hampton University where his wife is also a graduate. Rucker reminded students of the heritage of Hampton University as well as its location, an area where freed slaves could find protection during the Civil War.
“If these trees could talk they would tell you of the blood that has been shed and the number of lives viciously lost, just for us to be allowed, legally, to sit here together,” Rucker said.
Rucker reminded the gathering that they should remember those who came before them at Hampton University.
“You are the dream that somebody talked about, in these back woods somewhere, that would happen someday,” he said. “You are the extension of a legacy of greatness.”
A powerhouse in an industry known for being cutthroat, Rucker knows all too well that success doesn’t come easy. His message to the youth, however, was to make life about others.
“If your dream only includes you, then you are not dreaming big enough,” Rucker said.
Rucker encouraged the crowd to remove the phrase “I’m going to just do me” from their way of thinking.
“The reason you take care of this (pointing to his body), is so that you can take care of all of this (pointing to the audience). That’s how God works,” he said.
Noting that there is more to life than just acquiring things, Rucker emphasized how important others have been to his journey.
“Gifts are to be given away,” Rucker said. “That’s how incredible God is. You can give them all away and the next day you there will be 10 more gifts.”
Perhaps his most meaningful point was his charge to students to learn the “recipe to success.”
“The best thing about a recipe is that you’re the cook,” he said. “Even though the recipe, your education, the class curriculum, and the syllabi is standardized, you are the ingredient that makes it special. Anything else is just raw data.”
He reminded students not to compare themselves to anyone else.
“If I compared myself to other guys in Hollywood, I would be all jacked up,” he said. “I am not that dude and he is not me. He can’t do what I do and vice versa.”