*When Tammi Mac puts out the call, they all come.
Well it wasn’t that way in the beginning but at her recent Mac’s Minute Microphone Mixer in Association with Vanessa Bell Calloway there was standing room only at the newly renovated Regency West in Los Angeles, California. Hollywood hopefuls and their hope-filled supporters piled in and waited patiently to perform before industry casting directors and producers.
The vibe was vibrant. You see the word had gotten around that performers and attendees at previous mixers had garnered success in making connections, getting representation or booking acting jobs.
The buzz around town is that Mac’s Minute Microphone Mixer is that straight line between elusive two points – having talent and networking with industry professionals looking for talent.
So they came. Actors. Singers. Rappers. Comedians. Some were young and very hip. Others were seasoned, veteran performers. And a few where very young, staying up way past their bed time. Clutching their scripts, lyrics and sides they could be seen rehearsing or mouthing their act. It was clear – their laser focus signaled they meant business about breaking into the business.
Tammi Mac is the “guiding force” of the Mac’s Minute Microphone Mixer, a role she fits comfortably into and can be found in on weekdays from 4-8 p.m. as host of the Mac & Amiche show on KJLH 102.3, the leading African American radio station in Los Angeles. For Mac, it’s been about a seven year stint on Los Angeles’ most beloved African American radio station and she has developed a loyal following unlike anything in this town. She credits her on-air success to the support she’s received from Grammy Award winner and activist Stevie Wonder, KJLH station owner.
The same wit, energy, intellect and passion that have made her one of the leading female radio personalities in Los Angeles is what she brings to each mixer with her distinctive dramatic style and comedic timing. Mac’s smart, gut busting and sometimes irreverent commentary between performances leaves the audiences cheeks aching from laughter.
In the beginning it wasn’t all laughs for Mac. She came to Los Angeles with aspirations of becoming an actress. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina – Greensboro and studied with The Groundlings, a legendary improvisation school. Her background working in radio markets like Houston, North Carolina, Alabama and now Los Angeles often gave her contact with celebrities but didn’t open doors to acting.
“I used to just bust out and do a monologue when I encountered a celebrity, said Mac. “I approached James Earl Jones and John Amos and asked them if I could do a monologue for them. They both turned me down. I once stopped director Reggie Bythewood in the parking garage of the radio station and did a monologue for him on the spot,” recalled Mac.
Acting has been her first love. One day the man she loves, husband Jackson Brown, said to her, “You keep waiting for someone to call you and give you an opportunity. Perhaps you should create your own opportunity.”
That got her wheels turning.
Said Mac, “I began thinking, what if you didn’t have to walk up to people and throw out a pitch? What if I created a venue where aspiring talent had the opportunity to perform in front of industry people?” With that thought she realized her mission was no longer about herself, it was about providing a safe place for talent to be seen by the right people.”
Partnering with actress and community leader Vanessa Bell Calloway, she started the Mac’s Minute Microphone Mixer about 15 months ago. Some of Hollywood’s most noted industry professionals have attended such as casting director Twinkie Byrd; producer/writer Stacey Evans Morgan; executive and senior producers of Byron Allen’ s Entertainment Studios Jenny Hope and Allison Barksdale; representatives from William Morris Endeavor; BET VP of talent Robi Reed; producer James DuBose and the legendary Stevie Wonder have all been industry guests. But initially, talent participation was building slowly, sometimes at a snail’s pace.
“Vanessa Bell Callaway has been a huge supporter of the concept,” said Mac. “Even when things were moving slowly she kept telling me keep going, don’t stop. I think you got something here.”
It turns out what she had was a model for success. The satisfaction she feels is rewarding when participants talk about how their hope had been renewed and their resolved strengthened as a result of the connections they made from attending the mixers whether they performed or not.
“Tammi is doing something phenomenal here. You can come in here, share your talent, network and be seen,” said actress and comedian Monie Mon. “Because of my performance at the mixer I was approached by a major management company and signed with them. There are no guarantees but there is real opportunity,” said Mon adding that at the mixer she secured a walk-on, speaking role for an upcoming show produced by producer/writer Stacey Evans Morgan.
Actor Ernest L. Thomas known for his roles in What’s Happening, Malcolm X, and Everybody Hates Chris is a frequent guest at the mixers.
“We have a tough time as African American actors. But this mixer is a Godsend, a golden opportunity,” said Thomas who attended the June mixer. “It’s a place to be seen by legitimate casting agents, producers, managers and alike. I tell everybody they just have to go.”
The industry professionals at the June mixer included casting director Peter Wise, talent agent Theo Caesar and producer Stacey McClain. After witnessing the performances of a stellar cadre of heart stirring and hair raising talented hopefuls, the industry professionals took names, took notes and Keisha Richardson took meetings on the spot to help Kim Coleman cast for the upcoming F. Gary Gray feature film about the L.A. based hip-hop group N.W.A.
“My deepest hope is that these mixers will be a place where industry people come looking for talent and where talent comes to find industry people,” said Mac with a profound sense of optimism and who credits now include many plays, national commercials, television and movie projects.
“I want to make this the greatest pool of African American talent in Los Angeles.”
Mac’s Minute Microphone Mixer is held the last Friday of the month. The next one is scheduled on July 27, 2012. Industry guests scheduled to appear are: William Morris Endeavor Voiceover representatives, music/film producer DJ. Pooh and Senior VP of Acquisitions and Urban Programming for Image Entertainment’s One Village Studio, Brett Dismuke. For more information visit her website at http://tammimac.com/.
Veronica Hendrix is a syndicated columnist and feature writer whose work has covered the span of the human continuum – from clinical trials of male contraceptives, to the gang violence. She is the owner of Bromont Avenue Foods. She is the author of “Red Velvet Gourmet Spice Rub and Seasoning Heart Healthy Recipes.” Visit http://bromontavefoods.com for more information. For comments, interviews, speaking engagements or moderator requests please send an email to [email protected].