Temarrio Thomas’ first taste of the entertainment world came through the wrestling fandom. This would lead him to producer life. As a kid, Thomas would dedicatedly watch wrestling matches.
“No matter what was going on in the world, my parents knew how I would act,” he said. “I wouldn’t make a peep.”
His favorite wrestler to watch was Shawn Michaels. Thomas said he liked his showmanship and his presentation drew him in. Particularly, Thomas pointed to Michaels finishing move as an attention grabber-- a ‘super kick to the face.’
“His finishing move was simple, but super effective,” he said. “It caught my eye.”
Thomas became so enamored with what he saw on television that he wanted to take part. At nine-years-old, Thomas got his first chance to break into the entertainment industry. He started on the set of Stomp The Yard as an extra. While on set, Thomas watched the production for the film. Thomas then saw something else he liked, the creativity of production.
“Initially, you’re drawn to the lights and glamour and say ‘I want to act,’ but I was interested in production too,” Thomas said.
Create. Produce. Act. Thomas started to see himself on multiple sides of the industry. The bug he caught didn’t drive him into one avenue.
“You want to be everyman,” he said. “You want to take over the entertainment world.”
Thomas knocked on the door of the assistant director trailer on set and told him he was interested in being a production assistant. The assistant director would later call him and ask if he’d work as an intern for him.
“We were off to the races from then,” he said.
Thomas worked in TV shows, films, and commercials. His list of tv and film he’s taken part in include such things as Fast and Furious, Being Mary Jane, and Disney production, among other works. Thomas said he doesn’t have the total number of appearances.
“It all starts running together,” he said.
Thomas lived in Thomson for half of his childhood, going to school in the city for some time. He said he spent time in Thomson with his dad and then spent time with his mom in Augusta. He’d eventually graduate from Greenbrier High School in Evans in 2003. Soon after, he moved to Atlanta to continue his entertainment journey.
At first, he went to film school, first with American Intercontinental University and then to Georgia State University, for a total of two years. However, he dropped out due to his work schedule.
Eventually, Thomas said he would like to go back and complete his studies. Ultimately, he said he wants to create and produce his own productions, most likely in comedy, action or horror.
“Those are my three favorite genres,” he said.
But from then, Thomas continued to strive in the industry and dealt with struggle. He said he was turned down several times. Competition is always out there, he said.
“Everybody is trying to accomplish something.”
In 2013, Thomas decided to apply to WWE, the production that had enamoured him as a child. He could be a part of it. He did a phone interview and then got an offer. However, he found himself backing away from the opportunity. He’d have to uproot and leave to do it. The job was based in Connecticut.
“I wasn’t quite ready at the time,” he said.
So, he continued to hone his skills elsewhere. In 2015, Thomas received another chance. WWE was filming a live show in Atlanta a few days before his birthday. He had applied a second time. The manager of the show invited him to it, interviewed him in Atlanta, and gave him another invitation to be a producer with WWE. He took it this time.
“Helluva birthday gift,” he said. “It you told me I’d meet Vincent McMahon and I’d work for him, I would have called you crazy.”
Thomas moved to Connecticut to begin working on the show. Thomas handles announcer duties, off-site productions, audience engagement, rehearsal coordination, communication facilitation, and sponsor obligation, among other responsibilities, all while dealing with a lot of people.
“You have to be a people person because you have to manage different things, many different people, and many different egos,” he said.
Work ethic and people skills, he said, helped him to move up and stay in the industry. Problem-solving and critical thinking also proved essential.
“You have to have all of that at the drop of a dime,” he said.
And a bad move could send him home. The biggest disaster he avoided in his career was a time he handed the wrong card to an announcer. He had two cards for the same show, but each card had two different reads.
“That’s easily a way to get fired, no questions asked,” he said. ‘ You’re gone.”
Luckily, it was a post-production show.
“The EP[Executive producer] has a saying, ‘You get one.’”
Thomas works an average 12 hours a day. On Monday and Tuesday, WWE has its live shows. On Thursday and Fridays, he’s at the station working on the show. On those days, he gets down to eight hours. The show is live every week, 52 weeks of the year, Thomas said.
“We make it look easy because we’re so good at it,” he said. But, Thomas said everyone isn’t built for the job. The first few signs of this are complaints about the workload and travel. Thomas is often on the road.
Recently, Thomas shot a show in Saudi Arabia. The government has contracts with WWE for shows, he said. This is the third time Thomas has traveled there for a show, spending more time in the air than actually being in the country. But, Thomas said he likes the travel of his job. It’s just the personal aspect that proves difficult.
“I’m big on family and I don't get to see family and friends as long as I like,” he said. “The job, I can do it with my eyes closed, it’s just the real-life aspect.”
Thomas said his family and friends are proud of him, that they understand, but his job still takes a toll. He has group texts with his family and friends to ease the issue. When he gets a break, Thomas also goes home.
“Sometimes, I’ll take the rest of the week off and go home, get my fill,” he said of breaking after live shows.
However, Thomas keeps coming back.
“There’s nothing like when it’s showtime and you go out in front of that audience and do your job,” he said. “ There’s no other adrenaline rush like that.”
One of his biggest moments as a producer, he said, was the first Wrestlemania show he did. A crowd of over 100,000 people filled the stadium. It struck him.
“Even to walk out of that stadium and seeing all those people, it gives me chills,” he said.
Thomas said he likes saying that he created something, which production does for him. He gets to meet some of his childhood heroes. And, he gets to be a role model. People come up to him after the show and congratulate him, tell him to keep up his work. He said he tries to inspire.
“This is bigger than me,” he said.“ This is for every little black kid coming behind me and there’s that representation to say you can do it too, you can go out and accomplish your dreams and goals.”
So, Thomas pushes. He went from intern, production assistant, to now producing. He wants to exceed this.
“Still more to go,” he said.