“1883” actor Lamonica Garrett takes his role pretty seriously. Every actor does their fair share of research when prepping to get into character. And Garrett is no different when it comes to his role in Thomas. The stoic cowboy quietly leads alongside Capt. Shea Brennan (Sam Elliott). But when discussing how he came up with Thomas’ sound, Garrett had a whole lot to say.
Speaking in an interview with Decider, Garrett opened up about his “1883” character and what getting into the role meant for him. He speaks about bringing a culturally rich person to the Civil War-era role.
“It’s incredible, and I didn’t really see this happening for me. It just wasn’t in my realm of a possibility. I was just trying to bring Thomas to life and do justice to Black cowboys of the past. There is a wonderful culture of contemporary Black cowboys and that shouldn’t go unnoticed either,” Garrett begins.
Lamonica Garrett on Thomas’ Sound
He also says, “People ask me where I get Thomas’ sound from, his speech and his dialect. I took inspiration from Floyd Frank who passed in 2020. He was from Southeast Texas, and he was a legend down there in the Beaumont area. I’m just so honored to be the same category as great actors like him who have played black cowboys, both past and present-day, on screen.”
And black culture is incredibly important – and near and dear – to the actor’s heart. He loves that Taylor Sheridan gave him room to develop Thomas into a cultural figure as well as a stoic cowboy.
The actor goes on to describe what portraying a black cowboy means for the Western drama series in our age and day.
“Black cowboys aren’t portrayed now just for diversity; they are part of our history,” the actor told the outlet. “I look through the comment sections of 1883 and pretty often I see people saying, ‘The show is great. The show is historically accurate. I’m just not sure if I’m buying the black cowboy being there with him.’ I’m like, ‘What?’”
Cultural History in “1883”
Further, Garrett describes how African Americans didn’t necessarily get a chance to play cowboys in traditional Western films when they were first created.
“For a long time, if black audiences wanted to see themselves on screen, the subject matter was either slavery or the civil rights movement from the 1850s to the 1960s. There’s a whole hundred-year gap in between! There were so many wonderful things in this country that black people were doing that just do not get talked about in history class or in cinema.”
While the “1883” actor brings this culture and awareness to the role, it’s not necessarily addressed in the series. People seem to accept Thomas as a leader without question. This is possibly because many of the people in the wagon party are immigrants and other nationalities.
Together, the unlikely group is traveling to Oregon in hopes of a better life. And in addition to being a leader, Thomas is genuinely optimistic for the future generations of families in America.