Lil Tommy: he’s not just clowning around with kids
The entertainer devotes his life and times to youth causes
The students had been milling around, stretching and talking, but when Lil Tommy uttered the command, "Let’s get started,” they immediately quieted down and took their places on the hardwood floor. There is a full-length, wall-to-wall mirror in front of the room that Lil Tommy uses to keep an eye on his students as he puts them through their paces.
Last Thursday night, a new set of moves was being added to a routine they learned the week before. His face painted in his signature design, Lil Tommy, headed to the sound system and turned it on. Music bumping, the class began their practice. Some got off step, but the patient instructor, stopped the music and demonstrated the moves again, this time slower.
Lil Tommy was teaching a Krump Hop class at the Cedar Center upstairs. The group began with 10 students, but grew to a baker’s dozen half an hour later.
Lil Tommy describes krump as “a more intensive type dance. It’s more underground, more energetic as far as body aches,” at which point he laughed. “It takes a lot of stamina to krump,” he admitted.
If the instructor is teaching a dance class, why is his face painted? Well, Lil Tommy is a clown, too. Just prior to the class, he had been performing. On Thursdays, he can be found performing as part of Hometown’s Family Night, alternating between the Palmdale and Lancaster locations. “You get to have some food, fun, and a little bit of entertainment,” he said.
“We do it all,” the entertainer explained. “We do clowning, we do krumpin’. We do everything. We do jerking, we do b-boy, (what the media refers to as break-dancing), we do flips. We do everything in the clown movement because it’s entertaining.”
For a year or so, Strickland Family Homes has been the biggest sponsor of Lil Tommy the Clown and the Clown Crew, backing many of Lil Tommy’s events and road trips. “It’s been a real blessing for them to be here and to recognize what we do and to believe in us. And they’ve been going strong all year now.”
Strickland Family Homes has group homes in the Antelope Valley. Their fact sheet states they are “a private 501[c](3) organization dedicated to the excellence and enhancement of the artistic value of ‘at risk’ youths in our community.”
In connection with Lil Tommy the Clown, Strickland has created an anti-bullying school tour. The tour has become extremely popular, successful and effective. In the first five months this year alone, Lil Tommy the Clown and the Clown Crew have performed 108 shows at 42 schools, with a combined audience of almost 30,000 students. They have traveled from the Antelope Valley to as far south as Long Beach on the school tour. The content of shows is tailored to be age-appropriate for the type of school—mainly elementary and middle schools—but they have also taken the tour to Crenshaw High School. The message is “C.L.I.P. bullying out of our schools.” (C.L.I.P. is an acronym for Courage, Learn, Inform, Prevent).
Lil Tommy and the crew have received letters of commendation and gratitude from several schools. The letters note that the students were engaged from start to finish, and are using catch phrases from the performance such as “stay out of the mix” and “rewind.” Most notably, schools have experienced a drop in bullying incidents in the weeks following such performances.
First Lady Michelle Obama has endorsed the anti-bullying program. Lil Tommy and his crew have been chosen to participate in a national anti-bullying school tour beginning in October. He will be out for two to three months on the tour.
Along with the anti-bullying program, Lil Tommy has landed another project. “We just teamed up with Parks and Rec (Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation),” said the entertainer, “and we’re doing a program called the S.A.F.E. (Seemore and Friends Encouraging).” Seemore the eagle is the mascot of L.A. Parks and Rec. Seemore and Lil Tommy put together the program, the tenets of which are an anti-graffiti, anti-bullying, anti-vandalism and a drug-free zone. “We’re going to go to different parks and put on a show, do skits... We show kids how to keep our parks and our community safe.”
They don’t stop there. The skits include the consequences of what can happen when kids don’t follow the rules.
“Seemore and I, we have a group called the S.A.F.E. Squad, a bunch of kids that travel with us and do these skits and events with us,” said the entertainer. The purpose is to show kids that the S.A.F.E. Squad is doing positive things.
Since teaming up with L.A. Parks and Rec, Lil Tommy and the crew have visited parks from Compton to the A.V. Most recently they performed at Loma Alta Park in Altadena for the Youth Explosion.
Upcoming appearances include the Antelope Valley Fair. “They’ve got me booked for three days this year.” Those dates are Aug. 20, 23, and 27.
On Sept. 24, Lil Tommy, his crew, and Seemore will return to Jackie Robinson Park for Seemore’s birthday. “I’ll be there hosting, entertaining the kids,” says Lil Tommy. “I want to encourage all family and friends to come on out and have fun with us!” The fête starts at 10 a.m., and lasts until 6 p.m., and there will be food and entertainment.
Still, somehow, the tireless entertainer finds time to host auditions for 106 and Park’s “Wild Out Wednesdays” on BET. On weekends he continues to do birthday parties. In the past, he has opened for many artists, including Ray J and Ludacris, and has gone on tour with artists like Bow Wow and Omarion.
Transplanted Angelenos and those who have attended children’s birthday parties down below may be familiar with Tommy the Clown. Lil Tommy worked with the popular Tommy the Clown in Los Angeles for seven years before moving up to the A.V. They plan to collaborate again.
Like most performers in this genre, Lil Tommy didn’t study dance. He describes himself as a “guy who came from the streets, from gangs, and turned his life around. And if I can do it, anybody can do it. God has blessed me,” he adds.
Waxing almost philosophical regarding kids today, Lil Tommy says, “I can’t save them all, but I can save as many as I can.” Some of his dancers come from the streets and from broken homes. “I give them a job and they come work for me.”
Whatever Lil Tommy is doing is reaching the kids. One of his students, Michael del Rio, 16, has been taking the class for two months. “Mr. Tommy is a really good teacher. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Just talking to him (lets) me know that I can be successful because he (is) one of us [from the streets].”
Lil Tommy the Clown teaches at the Cedar Center in downtown Lancaster on Thursday nights, and has two classes on Tuesday nights at The Rage in Granada Hills.
For more information, visit www.stricklandfamilyhomes.org, or call (661) 886-1554.
LANCASTER, Calif.—Countless groups can dance. Numerous groups can sing. Some do both. But not many can combine those talents like Second2None Entertainment.
Jackie Robinson Park in Sun Village hosted the Southern California Association’s USA Boxing Inc. annual Boxing Club Show on Sunday. Clubs from across the valley, Santa Clarita, Inland Empire, and as far away as San Diego came to pit their boxers against others in the ring.
The main gym at the park was nearly full of spectators. Friends, family, and fellow club members turned out to cheer on their fighters.
Crenshaw High School digital and gaming team members Dominic Wilks, left, and Kevin Rivera, right, demonstrate the new app the group created for the Windows 8 App store to teacher and leadership instructor Jacqueline Lopez. The team has become the first group in the Los Angeles Unified School District to design, certify and release a game in the store, and they introduced “Going Bananas for Health” at the Century Plaza March 22.
The focus of the proposed three magnet programs at Crenshaw High School have been selected, and now the process is under way to hire three instructional specialists, each of whom will oversee one of the magnets.
Interested stakeholders from the community and school can obtain more information about these activities during a coffee-with-the-principal session scheduled for March 23 at 10 a.m. at Crenshaw. This will be followed by a meeting between the principal and parents and guardians of special education students only at 11:30 a.m.
The Los Angeles Urban League is accepting applications for four $5,000 scholarships sponsored by Mattel, and the deadline to submit a packet is Monday March 25 at 5 p.m.
There are three open-ended scholarships of $5,000 each, and another one for the same amount specifically targeting students at Crenshaw High School.
Contact Nailah Lee for complete details at, 3450 Mount Vernon Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90008 or (323) 299-9660 ext. 2208.