Lester Speight’s Many Characters

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Speight’s motto is: Put action where you want your money to be, in the bank and lots of it. “I want to be a positive Black image for kids. There has never been a Black Arnold Schwarzenegger type of Black hero,� stated Lester. “I am hoping to achieve that end through Terry Tate. Tate is a crossover figure. He’s the huge guy that comes along and tackles the annoying person others don’t dare to. Everyone loves Terry. He’s everyone’s hero. ..�

Lester “Rasta� Speight was navigating through LA traffic when we first spoke. The actor is also known for his personas and characters: “Mighty Rasta,� “Terry Tate,� the Office Linebacker and the character “Calvin Scott� on Damon Wayans’ hit show “My Wife and Kids� which is presently in syndication.

“Some people see me as Terry Tate, the officer linebacker, because I may appear on a particular show in wardrobe,â€? he said. “But Terry Tate is a character. The show host may introduce me as the Terry Tate character, so occasionally people are unaware that I am an actor playing a role.â€? Speight explained.  “Unlike the character Calvin, I am often hired to play Terry Tate at shows or by people who want Terry to give a motivational speech or come out and tackle somebody, remarked Speight who is about to play the role of a  Reverend.â€?  Terry Tate, Office linebacker, came to prominence through a series of Reebok commercials aired during the Super Bowl. The commercials were so popular they won a Golden Lion at the Cannes Film Festival and people were asked to vote for their favorite commercial.

Lester Speight grew up in Baltimore, Maryland.  He was highly motivated and hyperactive.  “During high school, I played basketball, football, and ran track.  I made all honors in those sports and was All American and in my High School Hall of Fame.  I got scholarships and nice offers and went on to Morgan State University as a Division 1 All American linebacker,â€? said the 6’6 ex-jock.  Speight played with the Bears from 1982 to 1985 as offensive, defensive and wide receiver. He later signed with the Baltimore Stars of the USFL but the USFL League folded before he had a chance to play one season.

“I went to Green Bay and tried out with them. I went to Philly, the Giants, and played semi-pro ball. I thought I was born to play football but my dream got deferred.  I wanted to stay in sports so I turned to wrestling.  I had to go to wrestling school to learn how to wrestle.  The ring is a very dangerous environment.  When I was wrestling, I weighed about 250-265 lbs.  I called myself Rasta the VooDoo Man, Reek Havoc, Fabulous Flex, and also Rasta Warrior.  I wrestled out of Atlanta and then went to New York for one week and trained with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).  The Rock was wrestling with the company then.  It was much harder on Blacks because WWE is a good ole boys network.  They only allow a few Blacks to come through there,â€? recalled Speight.

Speight’s sports career wasn’t going as expected so in 1991 he played an extra in Robert Townsend’s movie “The Meteor Man.â€?  “I took a few theater classes while at Morgan State and appeared in some talent shows so I was always in the performing arts. I studied Shakespeare in acting workshops in Washington, D.C. in 1997 and 1998.  I wanted to do everything in Baltimore and Washington before going to L.A.  I did dinner theatre, I did Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, in D.C., and I was in a film with Al Pacino and LL Cool J.â€? 

Speight eventually met his manager Greg in Baltimore who got him more bookings.  He was booked on the show “Live In LA.â€? Lester stayed out in LA and eventually found an agent.  “I auditioned for the character Terry Tate, a character created by Rawson Thurber (the director of Dodge Ball) who after working in an office and seeing all the chaos, thought of the idea to bring in an office linebacker to straighten out the office BS.  We did a 4 minute Terry Tate short. Later we did 5, 4-minute shorts for Reebok. The commercials became very popular.  Terry tackles everyone and anyone that doesn’t do their job well,â€? chuckled the affable actor. “When Terry goes to work and tackles somebody, no one reacts because that is what Terry does.  It’s his job to tackle folks that don’t do their job.  What can be done with the Terry Tate character is endless.  He has a life of his own. We even have a cameo of Terry Tate in an upcoming movie.  We have a video game.  There is a lot of marketing opportunities for Terry Tate,â€? remarked Speight who has spent the last six years in California working.  He appeared in several movies “Thirteen Moons,â€? “Any Given Sunday,â€? and “Cradle 2 the Grave,â€? etc.  For TV, he appeared in Malcolm in the Middle, NYPD Blue, Arli$$, Cuts and A Superstar is Born.

Dating, single, and living with his bull dog Lady Belle, Speight, is a romantic by heart.  He is open to meeting the right lady but presently he is seeking to upsize Terry Tate to the muscle weight of 335 or 334 lbs. “Ladies love big men.  I think they like the idea of being protected and wrapped in big arms.  However, I don’t want to be so big, I can’t run.â€? said Lester.  “Right now, I am working on my pilot which so far is called Southern Fabulous.  I have a production company entitled Sweathead.  I’ve developed a webisode character called Mama Rasta which streams on my website.â€?

Speight’s motto is: Put action where you want your money to be, in the bank and lots of it.  “I want to be a positive Black image for kids.  There has never been a Black Arnold Schwarzenegger type of Black hero,â€? stated Lester. “I am hoping to achieve that end through Terry Tate. Tate is a crossover figure.  He’s the huge guy that comes along and tackles the annoying person others don’t dare to. Everyone loves Terry. He’s everyone’s hero.  Eventually, I hope Terry gets me to a place where I can do roles like ‘The Reggie White Story’ for Movie of the Week.  I would love to play a modern day Jack Johnson.  I want to be the ultimate triple threat.â€?
Interested parties can learn more about Lester Speight at
www.mightyrasta.com
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