Thomas Miles, a.k.a. Nephew Tommy, grew up in Houston, Texas, with an eye to becoming a serious actor. In fact, he enrolled as the fist African-American Theater Arts major at Texas A&M University.
There he was mentored by Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Gordone and later joined the Royal Shakespeare Company of London.
“But it’s funny how fate sometimes steps in and opens other doors,” says Miles, who has managed to use his acting abilities to do successful stand-up comedy. He’ll be showing off that talent when he takes the stage at Helium Comedy Club March 14–17.
Today, Miles has built a career that encompasses radio, television, film and more. A talented thespian, Miles has starred in more than a dozen stage plays and a number of independent film projects. But now one of his best-known efforts is as co-host on the nationally syndicated Steve Harvey Morning Show that puts him in front of a live radio audience of more than eight million listeners daily.
“After I graduated from Texas A&M I went on the road and started doing stage plays,” Miles recalls . “That really helped me hone my craft. And during that same time, in the summer when there was a hiatus, I found out I could really do stand-up with very little effort.”
And then, in ’97–’98, Miles got a call to open up for Luther Vandross, something that was supposed to last for a week and ended up lasting for years. Miles recalls that call from Vandross’ manager inviting him to stay on. “That was a true blessing for me at the time, and I wound up staying with Luther for three years. He even took me on tour with him to Europe.”
When Vandross decided to take some time off (he died during that time), Miles decided to move back with some pals in Los Angeles, as well as hang out with his Uncle Steve, who is the brother of Miles’ mom Kate.
“One day Steve’s manager called me and asked if I’d like to go on the radio with Steve for about a week or two. I told him I would but that I was looking forward to going back on tour with Luther,” Miles recalls. Well, I went on the radio, clowned around, and it a became a hit. All of Los Angeles was talking about it.
“You know,” Miles continues, “it’s amazing how God gives you something now that you’re going to need later on. And you don’t even know it while it’s happening. So that’s how me and Uncle Steve got on the radio together. People seem to love the crazy stuff that we put out there on a daily basis.”
Miles adds that people seem to really enjoy his “Nephew Tommy” routine. “I represent the common man, the guy that’s on the come up.”
And while he’s very happy with the way his life has turned out, he says that he still would like to do more films. “I think the main problem is that people see my comedy and don’t realize I’m really a trained actor,” Miles volunteers. “I get bit parts here and there, but that’s not enough for me.
“Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be in films, and I’m hoping that’s where my future lies.”
To further that ambition, Miles has even written a film specifically for himself. “I’m hoping to get the green light and start shooting this summer.”
Today, he offers some advice for others out there who would hope to follow in his footsteps. “First,” he says, “If you can get everybody’s attention while clowning around, there’s some kind of talent there. But you have to learn to channel it in the right direction. And you just can’t quit. There will be days when nothing works right for you, but just stay with it. Determination and persistence is the key.”
For times and ticket information, call 215-496-9001.