We recently caught up with Terrance while he’s traveling the world as a backing vocalist/dancer on Adam Lambert’s “The Original High” tour. We dig deep to find out who his mentor is, what it’s like on stage in front of mass crowds, and his most memorable role in his theatrical repertoire. Later this year Terrance will also be a mentor for Arts Out Loud, sharing his talents with young LGBT rising artists.
Can you talk about your path to where you are in your career today?
It started with my parents who were so into music – Soul, R&B and Gospel were a constant. My mom would play such artists as Luther Vandross and Stephanie Mills. I fell in love with Stephanie Mills as a child, especially after seeing her in THE WIZ on Broadway. That made me want to be a singer and it made me want to be on stage. After that experience, I joined my church choir, I entered event talent shows during my elementary school years, and I did whatever I could to perform. My mom enrolled me in a performing arts program at my high school where I learned about dance, fashion, art…so many creative ways of expression, I was in love!
During my journey, artist like Janet Jackson inspired me to dance, to move. My next step was college, I entered Towson University and left with a degree in Dance Performance and Education. It was a long road of acceptance and reality. While studying there I auditioned for Debbie Allen’s show, PEARL at the Kennedy Center and landed a part in the ensemble. This is the moment the trajectory of my life changed! Ms. Allen took us under her wing and gave us a chance to study with her at The Debbie Allen Dance Academy. I left that academy with the drive to become a commercial dancer for film and television and possibly tour the world! And today, that’s what I am doing, touring the world with my best friend Adam Lambert. Performing, seeing places I would never know, expressing myself, being happy!
Besides the inspiration of Janet Jackson and working with Debbie Allen, were there any mentors in your early days that helped you stay on course?
A mentor to me is someone who guides and inspires. I have so many people who have guided and inspired me. In high school, I had a friend named Tony in my performing arts program. He danced with a passion that was infectious and made me want to move in a way that moved other people. That set me on my course, and I feel like everything that has happened since then has continued to steer me in the direction to what I know is my purpose, inspiring the world through my art!
What was that one defining moment in your life when you knew you wanted to be an entertainer?
It’s funny because I think many artist will say this…I have heard so many that I look up to say it… Beyonce said it, Janet said it, Usher said it… the one defining moment that made me want to be an entertainer was my first performance on stage when I saw the reaction of the audience. The joy I felt in that moment is something I work to feel every day!
What advice would you give to our younger LGBT youth about chasing your dreams?
Look… I tell all youth that same thing Whoopi Goldberg told Lauryn Hill in Sister Act 2, “If you wake in the morning and all you can do is think about singing. You a singer girl!” Passion is real, dream it, do it, believe in yourself because you are capable. And on the way, be sure to keep people close who believe in you too! Who support your dreams! And who say to you… you can do it!
What challenges have you had to overcome to get to where you are? How did you overcome them?
The challenges that I had to overcome were doubt and being told no. Lack of confidence is dangerous, it can make you lose belief in yourself. But if you want it and you study to be the best you can be, there is no stopping you.
What’s it like being on a stage in front of thousands of people?
Being on stage in front of thousands of people is such a rush! I feel like I am on top of the world. In that moment I feel no pain or negativity. Its love, its strength – to know that you have touched so many people at one time doing what you love to is so powerful and fulfilling. I can do it over and over again for the rest of my life.
What is your pre-performance ritual?
My performance ritual is pretty simple. I stretch, ask God and the universe to allow me to be focused and open to discovery within myself as an artist, some pushups and a 5 hour energy drink.
In your opinion, should more LGBT people in entertainment come out? Have you experienced any negative words or actions by being out?
I think LGBT people in the industry should be truthful with themselves and if they want to come out and make their personal lives public then they should do so, I don’t think anyone should be forced or ridiculed about who they are but I also understand reality. And today, being out can go either way. I can only speak on what’s right for me and that’s being true to who I am. It’s not failed me yet, I can’t imagine being myself will fail me in the future.
What has been your most memorable performance to date and what made it so memorable?
I think it was the first time I went on as the lead in Debbie Allen’s play Twist! I was the understudy for the show lead and Ms. Allen believed in my talent so much that she put me on stage one night. I’ll never forget that. It was life-changing and I couldn’t believe she trusted in my ability that much.
Oh… and I was in Dreamgirls with Beyonce …I mean …does it get more memorable?
Is there a musical theatre production you would love to be a part of?
Right now, it would be Motown. For my generation, Motown music was what our parents were listening to when we grew up. It inspired the R&B of the 80s and 90s that I grew up with. To play someone like Smokey Robinson who made music people still love today would be the best!
What is your favorite song to belt out at the bar/in the car/for karaoke?
“DON’T YOU WANNA JAM…TOOOONIGHT!” I have to be honest here, Freddie Jackson goes off! And I will sing Jam Tonight at the top of my lungs no matter when or where it comes on!
Ten years from now you will be…
…happy and even more successful in my career! I will be able to give back to those who are coming up behind me and looking for inspiration and support. 10 years from now I will have conquered television and film and will have opened so many doors to upcoming artists who dream big like I do. Most importantly to me, 10 years from now I will love and receive love!
The Original High Tour resumes in the US on Feb 23rd in New York. For more information and dates please visit Adam’s official website.
Photos supplied by Terrance Spencer social media.
Arts Out Loud claims no ownership of the photos.