No. 5 | Principal POV
Cameron J. Ross (Theatre ‘06) is a multi-hyphenate: a TV writer, actor, and producer based in Hollywood — a dream that he has been working toward for the better part of a decade. He says the mission of his career is to express the full breadth of the Black experience in vivid imagery. In keeping with that mission, he won a Special Tony Award in 2021 for his work with an organization he founded called the Broadway Advocacy Coalition. The group’s goal is to ensure that the Broadway community plays a more impactful role in dismantling systemic racism. They were recognized by the Tony’s for their work which included a high-profile multi-day forum on race called “#BwayforBLM.” The forum examined how white supremacy has permeated the industry and how to approach racial equity. It was part of the national conversation around anti-Blackness in America following the murder of George Floyd in 2020.
Ross has written for the shows, The Summer I Turned Pretty and Gentefied on Amazon Prime and Netflix, respectively. He also previously acted on Lena Waithe’s BET comedy series, Boomerang. Now, he’s developing a new series (taking place in Houston) with a major studio. If his new show is greenlit, he will become part of a small group of Black showrunners that comprise 5% of all showrunners in Hollywood.
For Ross, getting to this point in his career as a credited creator, writer, and executive producer has been a storied journey of surrendering to his imagination.
Sheron Ross, Cameron’s mother, was an actress, dancer, and the magnet coordinator for the arts program at Kashmere High School. She also coached Cameron’s performances. “She was my mom-ager,” Ross said. He remembers performing in his third grade talent show, singing “Sumthin’ Sumthin” by Maxwell. His mother choreographed the mid-song dance break: several 8-count movements of the eight year old doing “the bounce” and “raising the roof.” On stage, he felt free. The feeling of captivating his audience felt like volts of electricity pulsing through his young body.
But outside of performing, he was a careful child — fearful of expressing his creativity. Although he didn’t know he was gay yet, he was still teased for it. From an early age, he was keenly aware that his softness and vulnerability conflicted with the image of masculinity he knew. “I always felt that Black masculine culture never had space for me,” Ross said. “For survival, I stopped performing during middle school and decided to play sports.” During this time period, he bonded more with his father, who would drive him to football games and provide feedback on his plays. In the eighth grade, his mother asked if he wanted to audition for HSPVA’s theatre program, but Ross insisted that he wanted to play football at Northshore High School, his zoned school. His mother obliged.
One day, he saw a flier in the hallway to audition for the play, “Boys Next Door” by Tom Griffin. Ross was cast as the schizophrenic golf player, Barry. For the first time in years, that freeing feeling of being on stage rushed back to him, and he felt alive. He immediately asked his mother if it was too late to audition for HSPVA. Even though he was already into his freshman year, his mother managed to organize an audition, and he got a call back.
The call back was the first time he was able to meet other HSPVA students. He was enamored by them. “They felt like celebrities to me,” Ross said.
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