Every job requires dedication, but becoming a successful actor takes a level of commitment few other occupations demand. For his role as former Buffalo Soldier, Thomas, LaMonica Garrett spent a great deal of time learning all the skills and mannerisms required to play a believable cowboy. The actor has now played a cowboy for so long, he says that the cowboy life is a permanent part of who he is.
“Whenever 1883 finishes, I’ll still have cowboy in me,” Garrett says of his newfound lifestyle. “Between cowboy camp and experiencing what we have in the last six months, it’s not just something that you hang up the scripts and you hang up the clothes and it’s ‘Alright, back to everyday life.’ I’m riding horses out here now, I was at the PBR last night at Staples Center- bull riding. It’s a culture and I’m here for it.”
In order to learn how to be a cowboy, LaMonica Garrett and his fellow 1883 stars went to cowboy camp. On his experience at camp, Garrett says, “Sam [Elliott] is an icon. So, when he gets there…Tim [McGraw] and Faith [Hill], as well… these are big celebrities, big stars… We get to cowboy camp, no one wanted any special treatment, it was hard for everyone.”
“At first, you know, you think cowboy camp is fun – and for a few days, it was. And then it turned into work,” the 1883 star recalls. “But it made us all closer, we all bonded from it, and when we started filming, it was a seamless transition. We learned how to ride horses, we learned how to do everything we needed to do to make it look real on screen. But it brought us all close together, that was the main part.”
LaMonica Garrett Talks Dedication to ‘1883’ Role
When it comes to LaMonica Garrett’s dedication to his fan-favorite 1883 character, Thomas, cowboy camp is just the beginning. To get the stoic but compassionate Thomas right, he researched Floyd Frank, a legendary African American cowboy.
Garrett says of bringing the Civil War-era character to life, “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 in the same category as great actors like him who have played black cowboys, both past and present-day, on screen.”
“It’s incredible, and I didn’t really see this happening for me,” Garrett continues. “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.”