Former Striker ready to ‘Run It’ at Grammys

FAMU grad Black Thomas will have a Grammy performance to add on his resume, when he dances with Chris Brown in the 2007 awards show Sunday.

Born Alfred Thomas Jr., his first major performance was with Jessica Simpson at the People’s Choice Awards. With the help of his talent agency, Eloc, Thomas went on to perform with Rihanna, Fall Out Boy, Beyoncé and Fonzworth Bentley.

Thomas is also an assistant choreographer for Chuck Maldonado, where he was given the opportunity to assist in choreography for television shows “That’s So Raven,” “CSI:NY” and the movie “Stomp the Yard.”

“I have truly been blessed,” said Thomas, who currently lives in Los Angeles. Thomas said he never imagined he would advance this much in the industry during a short amount of time. From the moment he wakes up, Thomas’ schedule is full.

Starting at 10 a.m. Thomas attends rehearsal with Maldonado. Afterward, he rehearses with Brown at 5 p.m.

Dancing was something Thomas originally did as a hobby on the weekends just for a good time.

“I always wanted to be an actor,” Thomas said. It was not until he attended a performing arts school that Thomas had formal dance training.

“At my school, they required us to take jazz and ballet.”While at FAMU, Thomas continued his interest in dance and participated in several organizations that helped to prepare him for his career.

“Alfred is a good guy to be around,” said Cyrah Hawkins, 22, a senior criminal justice student from Atlanta. “He (was) a very funny guy, and he never took things too seriously. Whenever we would go to his theater performance, he would always steal the show.”

As a theater student, Thomas found his stage presence while playing Buckshot in “East Texas Hot Links” with FAMU Essential Theatre. Thomas said he fell in love with hip hop dancing as a four-year member of the FAMU Strikers, an organization he was in with Hawkins.

“(Thomas) was one of our outstanding students,” said Shepiro Hardemon,the founder and artistic director of the FAMU Strikers. Hardemon said Thomas was easy to work with and “was a great performer.” He said Thomas’ seriousness about his “craft” brought a lot of energy to the group.

“We are extremely proud of him and his accomplishments,” he said. Thomas graduated from FAMU in spring 2005 with a degree in theater and a minor in journalism. After graduation, Thomas moved to Los Angeles to begin his career as a dancer and actor.

“In L.A., everyone wants to be in the entertainment industry,” he said. Thomas explained that in L.A. success is based on the relationships created. “Talent is really what comes last in L.A.,” Thomas said. He said after a while, people started remembering him, and in the end, that is what managed to set him apart.

After the Grammys, Thomas can be seen in several upcoming music videos including Beyoncé’s video titled, “Body.”