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ICYMI Lamman Rucker Interview

Lamman Rucker 734x365
Credit: OWN

The second season of GREENLEAF, the prime-time sudser that follows the trials and tribulations of the Greenleaf clan of Memphis and their sprawling family-run megachurch, just kicked off on OWN, and Lamman Rucker admits that he still pinches himself that he gets to work with Executive Producer Oprah Winfrey, who also recurs on the show as Jacob’s Aunt Mavis. “She is so down-to-earth that we have to remember, ‘Oh, yeah. That’s Oprah!’ ” chuckles Rucker. “She’s equally as gracious as someone who shares experiences with you as she is as a superior. What’s so graceful about her is that no matter what, she’s just Oprah. She’s the same generous, gracious, respectful person who is just super-smooth to get along with. She’s a great listener. She has a lot to share. She’s always encouraging and supportive. She’s a talented woman, so it’s really cool to see her step down from the executive level to become the artist and actress that she is. No matter what she does, she’s an exceptional person — and that’s not kissing up to my boss. It’s nice to actually say these things and mean it [laughs].”

Rucker is equally enthusiastic about GREENLEAF. His alter ego is a philandering family man who constantly clashes with his father, “The Bishop,” over the family business. The actor teases that there’s more tumult in store for Jacob in season 2. “We’ve got Jacob fighting to turn a corner,” Rucker explains. “Last season, this character was raw, really in a state of defiance. Even though he’s a grown man, he was acting like a rebellious teenager. His version of running away from home was running into bed with another woman. He was sticking his middle finger up to his parents and the church, and as the prince of the palace, he could do whatever he wanted. But when his father fired him, it now presents Jacob with an opportunity to prove himself. He’s conflicted and confused and still a little lost, but he’s doing the best he can to keep it all together without it all falling apart.”


His early soap roles gave the actor plenty of experience playing highly charged characters. On ATWT, Rucker played a hotshot attorney who was blackmailed into getting James Stenbeck off from murder charges, was shot by his own client, faced rape charges and was pushed out a window to his death. “Man, my days in Oakdale were a whirlwind,” he marvels. “I’ll never forget that my first couple of days were intense courtroom scenes with virtually the entire cast in the scene and I had to be on point! Marshall was a confident man and a great lawyer, so I had to be sharp. There were a couple days or so I literally had 15 pages each day full of fireworks with Tamara Tunie [ex-Jessica] and Colleen Zenk [ex-Barbara]. Those two women set the standard for me on that show.”

Rucker’s stay turned out to be longer than expected, much to his delight. “To have what initially was just a three- month gig turn into a three-year deal was monumental!” he reflects.  “I owe a lot to everybody in the ATWT family and pipeline. My time there was a game-changer for me. T. Marshall Travers will always have a special place in my heart and remain one of my favorite characters to portray of all time. I miss those folks, but I see so many of them working on other things now. That always makes me smile. I’m always rooting for them.”
Rucker then moved to Pine Valley, where he played creepy mob boss Garret. “I miss working with my girls, Shari Headley [ex-Mimi; ex-Felicia, GUIDING LIGHT] and Tanisha Lynn [ex-Danielle] and my little brother, Michael B. Jordan [ex-Reggie],” he says. “We all spent a lot more time together back then. I wish it could’ve been longer.”

Rucker says he will always be grateful for the fans he made during his time on New York soaps, many of whom have followed his career all the way through to GREENLEAF. “I still get lots of folks who remember my days on ATWT and AMC,” he smiles. “As a matter of fact, they’re the proudest fans of all because they feel like, ‘We were here first,’ before I had other fans from all my other shows and movies. They feel a deeper sense of pride and connection to me and have followed my career ever since 2002. I always give those supporters an extra special hug for that!”

For more on GREENLEAF, go to

Meet The Parents

Rucker has high praise for his TV parents, the Greenleaf matriarch and patriarch, Lynn Whitfield (Lady Mae; ex-Marjorie, MISTRESSES) and Keith David (Bishop James). “It doesn’t get much better than that,” he raves. “They anchor the show, which gives all of us a certain comfort with what we’re able to do because we know we’re standing on a strong foundation. They never cease to deliver and aside from the quality of their work, the biggest joy is who they are as people. Lynn and I have discovered that we share a lot of the same training, coming up in the D.C. area. We’ve been trained by many of the same people. Keith and I, as well, have similarities. I never realized how much he and I look alike. A lot of people have said, ‘He looks like he can really be your dad!’ Even my dad said so! It’s an honor to be their child and I’m just trying to make sure that I’m a fair representation of what the son would be who would come from these incredible people.”

Did You Know?

• His first acting role was playing Dr. Martin Luther King in the fourth grade.
• His big break was his portrayal of singer Jimmy Ruffin in THE TEMPTATIONS in 1998.
• His very first soap job was as a Flight Agent on Y&R in 1998.

Just The Facts

Birthday: October 6

Hails From: Born in Pittsburgh, PA; raised in Washington, D.C.

At The Movies: His film credits include the Tyler Perry hits Meet The Browns, Why Did I Get Married? and Why Did I Get Married Too?


Getting Personal: “My personal life is great! The stars are aligned and love is in the air. The future is very bright — and more details to come.”

Hoop Dreams: Rucker played basketball in college and semi-pro ball for a brief period after graduation.