Laurinburg native chases dream of acting, hand-picked to feature in Tyler Perry show

By Rachel McAuley

February 21, 2014

LAURINBURG — A 19-year-old Laurinburg native with a big personality and even bigger dreams of shining in the spotlight became one step closer to accomplishing his goal when he played an extra in a Tyler Perry television show that aired Tuesday night.

Demetres Ingram, who now lives in Atlanta, was one of about 60 other actors who traveled to the Tyler Perry studio Oct. 22 to audition for a small role in “The Haves and Have Nots.” Ingram also mentioned that he should be appearing in the background of two more episodes that are scheduled to air in the near future.

“You have to be on it or you’re going to miss an opportunity,” Ingram said. “It was by luck. I was just browsing on the casting calls.”

Already excited to be in the studio, Ingram was on cloud nine when he and the other actors stood together as Perry walked on set. He sat in front of the ecstatic crowd, placed his hand under his chin and inspected the aspiring actors.

He scanned the many hopeful faces and called out three actors — including Ingram — to stand by his side. The next day Ingram returned to be “pampered and spoiled” by a make up artist, producer and hair stylist.

Ingram was featured in a club scene, where he danced for a while, though no music was playing, and pretended to order a drink from a bartender. Music and background noise were added in the show’s final edit.

Ingram said he admired and respected Perry’s work ethic and hands-on approach when directing on set.

“He actually works,” he said. “He was working the camera.”

Ingram was also a little star-struck watching Crystal R. Fox play “Hannah Young,” Tika Sumpter play “Candace Young,” and Gavin Houston act as “Jefferey Harrington” up close when they were on set.

All of the extras had to wait for hours in a big room until they were called out on set. Many were armed with snacks, blankets, pillows and phone chargers since there was nothing to do but sit and wait until they were called.

“I just brought myself,” he said. “But the next time I was prepared.”

The next day Ingram came prepared. Over the next three days, he worked 36 hours.

Ingram said that he came across casting calls on Perry’s website for black men about 6 feet tall whom possessed other physical specifications. He submitted his profile information, photo and resume. About an hour later he received an email requesting that he come into the studio at 6 a.m. the next day.

He had to sign a confidential contract that prevented him and the other prospective actors to give details about the studio, however, Ingram was able to reveal that Perry’s studio was set up like a city — he described a bedroom and shopping area.

“It’s a whole street of fake buildings,” said Ingram. “It was very huge.”

“The Haves and Have Nots” is a television show featured on the OWN channel that tells the story about a grandmother who’s daughter and son-in-law start working for a wealthy family to save their home and the ensuing drama.

Ingram spent a year in college before trying his hand at modeling, singing and acting and eventually deciding to leave school and pursue his love for the arts.

“I’m too busy chasing after my dreams,” he said. “I’m also going forward with my music career. I don’t want to be set to just one thing.”

Rachel McAuley can be reached at 910-276-2311, ext. 15. Follow her on Twitter @rachelmcauley1.