Tramell Tillman (’14)

Category: Alumni Promise | Awards

2022 Alumni Promise Award Winner

On-screen acting was not Tramell Tillman’s first career path, but it was the one he always wanted. From a young age, Tillman thrived in front of audiences, but he first pursued a medical career when someone told him he would not become a successful actor. However, he changed directions to study communications. While earning a communications degree, a mentor encouraged him to do what would make him happy instead. When he was 29 years old he graduated from UT with a master’s in fine arts and fully jumped into acting.

At the top of his class, Tillman was selected a “UT Student to Watch” by the College of Arts and Sciences. He was one of the first African American male graduates of UT’s MFA acting program, and Tillman landed his first casting for a TV show four years after graduating in 2018. He was most recently cast in the TV show Severance, which has earned the attention of fans and critics. Directed by Ben Stiller, the psychological thriller is based on workers within a company whose memories have been surgically divided—severed—between their personal and work lives. Tillman stars as the human resources director with an unsettling devotion to the workplace, even though he can remember his personal life at work and vice versa.

Tillman has acted with legend Al Pacino in Hunters and appeared on Broadway in The Great Society. While maintaining a successful acting career, he has also guest lectured for UT’s Diverse Plays and Playwrights class, led career development seminars for UT Theater, and participated in the Class of 2020 Virtual Alma Mater. His personal advocacy interests are invested in the arts, LGBTQ+ rights, mental health awareness, and suicide prevention. He’s been involved with organizations such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; New Alternatives, a supportive safe space for LGBTQ+ homeless youth in New York City; and Behind the Book, a reading and critical thinking program for 5th to 12th grade students. In part, his devotion to the arts is to provide a platform to challenge and change troubled communities.

Tillman has been cast for theater roles in New York, Washington D.C., Cincinnati, and Oregon. His performance in Carmen Jones won an AUDELCO (Audience Development Committee, Inc.) award for Best Featured Actor. AUDELCO is an organization dedicated to acknowledging the achievements of Black theater artists in New York City.