Travaris Spears, born on October 20, 2000 in Rochester, New York is called “Varis” or just “V,” by his family, friends and fans. At a very young age, he developed a charm that was engaging and magnetic.
Varis sings, dances, and imitates his favorite artists and celebrities. He has high energy and a passion for performance. He has a gift for communicating and interacting with people from all walks of life, and he creates his own opportunities to make a lasting impression, because he sees the whole world as the stage on which he performs.
Since he was seven years old, Varis has been busy working on his craft as well as maintaining excellent grades in school; something upon which his mother insists. In 2012, he landed a prominent role in the blockbuster Admission. Now he is in ninth grade and has appeared in a Siri/Universal Record music video, in print ads, and in several indie films.
This charismatic young man is a rising star to be reckoned with.
Here, we chat about his new movie, Freedom, an historical drama starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., about an African-American family’s attempt to escape from slavery.
Travaris Spears: No problem. Thanks for this interview.
KW: I know you are an excellent student. Did you have a good school year?
TS: I had a great year in school. I learned a lot and discovered much more than I did in 8th grade about my learning style and myself in general. High school is different, more challenging. For example, I was scared of not understanding algebra but it turned out to be pretty simple after I realized that asking questions doesn’t make you stupid, and understanding how important notes are. I also learned how to speak Italian which is similar to Spanish. My freshman year was definitely a year I won,,’t forget.
KW: Are you still studying guitar, dance and boxing?
TS: I am still studying all three. I have always taken private tap dance classes with the wonderful and talented Francis Bradley. I am also taking hip-hop classes now, at the Broadway Dance Center. I have always boxed at Gleason’s gym, and I will never stop because I am actually very passionate and competitive when it comes to boxing. And dancing? I love it.
KW: What interested you in Freedom?
TS: I have always been interested in history as a whole, but I love hearing about slavery because it’s a reminder or a wake-up call that I need to take my freedom seriously. I also think about how we take our freedom for granted and not celebrate the people who sacrificed and died for us, to get it. Also, freedom was very interesting because I knew I would learn a lot acting and education wise, so I knew this would be a great opportunity.
KW: How would you summarize the film in 25 words or less?
TS: It’s a flashback film showing a young man, enslaved in the 18th Century, had hopes of seeing his great-grandson and other descendants freed a century later.
KW: Tell me a little about your character, Fassena.
TS: Fassena is the great-grandfather of Samuel who is played by Cuba Gooding, Jr. In the 1700’s, he had a very rough life as a young boy in slavery after his mother passed away. Fassena’s survival and hope of being free one day are dependent on the fate of Captain John Newton [played by Bernhard Forcher].
KW: What would you say is the movie’s message?
TS: I think there was more than one message… One goal was to educate people who might not know much about slavery. Another was to show how many lives were sacrificed during that period, what slaves actually experienced, and how mothers, fathers and young children died while hoping and fighting for freedom.
KW: What is your next project?
TS: I recently shot an episode of “Law & Order SVU” which will be the first episode of the new season in the fall. I am so excited and cannot wait for it to air. I’ve had a lot of great experiences during this terrific pilot season. I feel confident that I have a very bright future ahead. You’ll see more of me soon!
KW: I asked you the bookworm Troy Johnson question before, but I’m always interested in knowing what was the last book you read?
TS: “The Enemy” by Charlie Higson, It’s amazing, by the way.
KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to?
TS: Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again,” featuring Charlie Puth [from the Furious 7 soundtrack].
KW: Was there a meaningful spiritual component to your childhood?
TS: Yes, I’ve been raised in a Christian home. I have a very religious family. As far back as I can remember, I was taught to pray, to have fellowship with others in church, to read the Bible, and to have an understanding of God’s
KW: Let’s say you’re throwing your dream dinner party-who’s invited… and what would you serve?
TS: Wow! I would invite my family, my best friends, of course, my boxing trainer, my acting coach, Will Smith, Jack Nicholson, Steph Curry, Robert De Niro, Chris Brown, Denzel Washington, Floyd Mayweather, Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry and Jay Z. I would serve them my favorite meals: my mom’s lasagna, my mom’s shrimp and lobster pasta. OopsI I almost forgot dessert. I would have my great-grandmother make her yummy red velvet cake.
KW: The Toure question: Who is the person who led you to become the person you are today?
TS: My mother.
KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?
TS: The person on the red carpet has butterflies in his stomach, a rush of excitement, but is reserved with his game face on, and is ready for pictures and questions. The person off the red carpet is super-energetic and playful, and is always into something or doing something.
KW: The Pastor Alex Kendrick question: When do you feel the most content?
TS: When I’m with my family. I love to visit my hometown, Rochester, New York. I’m always happy and excited to visit and be with my siblings and family. I am also always happy, when my mom tells me I landed a role, especially when I’m on set. I love the feeling.
KW: The Rudy Lewis question: Who’s at the top of your hero list?
TS: My wonderful mother!
KW: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?
TS: They are all determined and very focused people because they all had to focus on what they wanted to get it. Also, they had to believe in themselves to have self-confidence.
KW: The Harriet Pakula-Teweles question: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you’d like to star in?
TS: The remake of Admission. [Laughs] No, I would love to be in the remake of The Wizard Of Oz.
KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet? TS: Money, a credit card, an ID, insurance cards, and my MetroCard.
KW: Thanks again for the time, Travaris, and best of luck with Freedom.
TS: Thank you so much for interviewing me, Kam. I had a wonderful time reminiscing while thinking of some of the answers.
Watch the Freedom trailer: