This month, we caught up with actor and Richmond native Chad L. Coleman. Best known for his roles as Tyreese on The Walking Dead and Cutty on the HBO hit series The Wire, Chad made his Broadway debut in 2009 in an August Wilson revival of Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. His next project is the remake of the landmark 1977 miniseries Roots, which premieres across A&E Networks (A&E, History, and Lifetime) Memorial Day weekend.
Father of two and stepdad of one, Chad calls Brooklyn home these days, but visits Richmond at least once a year around this time to help out during Date with Dad weekend. The event, hosted by Camp Diva, a Richmond-based program of Girls For A Change, is committed to strengthening father-and-daughter bonds in the community. Chad is a celebrity guest with his daughter at the annual dinner dance, scheduled for March 12.
Raised in Richmond with his four older siblings by George and Lottie Byrd in a foster home, Chad says his stand-in parents were loving, but incredibly strict. He respects the Byrds immensely, but his take on parenting is different. “I’d rather be a teacher than an enforcer, which includes teaching my kids accountability and personal responsibility for their actions. I let my kids know how much I love them and that I have their backs at all times,” says Chad.
As a student at John F. Kennedy High School, Chad got into acting after an injury ended his participation in track and field. He attended VCU for a year on a theatre scholarship before enlisting in the Army and touring the world as a videographer. After his tour ended in 1999, he knew it was time to make his dream of acting professionally a reality.
When it comes to advice for parents who recognize creative potential in their kids and want to encourage it, the actor and father says this: “Listen to your child and trust that something inside usually draws a child to what they inevitably want to do. By all means, expose them to as many different activities as possible, but allow them to choose! Help them look for their
passion and encourage it.”
Chad says his success is a “living example for my kids to see – a kid from humble beginnings who followed his dreams and found success. My career becomes a teaching tool of do’s and don’ts, but it also teaches my kids that hard work and persistence pays off.”
Keep reading to learn more about RVA native, star of stage and screen, father, and creative inspiration Chad L. Coleman.
Mountains or beach?
Mountains! Elevation is much more awe-inspiring for me. I remember the first time I saw The Rockies – whoa!
Dogs or cats?
Dogs! They’re as close to human as you can get without being one, and that’s awesome.
What book is on your nightstand right now?
The People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. I am fascinated with how this amazingly complex country began. The book is told from the perspective of those who were usually silenced.
What podcast are you hooked on?
I give props to my boys Chris Hardwick and Neal Brennan. Not only are they incredibly funny and smart, but I was also a guest on both of their podcasts!
If you were stranded on a desert island, what food would you want to grow on trees?
Peanuts! I fell in love with them as a kid when my foster father, George Byrd, would roast them in the oven.
Same island – what’s the one tech gadget you would want with you?
I would want a solar-powered cell phone so I could listen to music and take pictures and selfies and eat my peanuts, all while waiting to be rescued!
Favorite Richmond restaurant when you’re in town?
Croaker’s Spot… Cuz dat’s how mama and gran’ma made it growing up! It’s home cooking!
What is your favorite way to spend a rainy Sunday?
My favorite way to spend a rainy Sunday should be obvious… in bed reading the theatre section of The New York Times.
What is your energy source?
My inner spirit and my dreams are my energy source. That’s what I have been connected to since childhood, and it never fails as long as I stay plugged in.
Favorite family day outing?
I love going out to a great restaurant with my family. There is nothing like family, food, laughter, and great conversation.
Finish this sentence: “My family loves it when I…
tell stories and crack jokes! When we laugh, it brings us closer together and creates unforgettable memories.”
Readers will be surprised to know…
I grew up loving musical theatre! Jesus Christ Superstar was a favorite of mine.
Photos: Top, Bobby Quillard; center, Jean-Claude,