In 2016, Tamberla Perry hit the lottery — the life lottery. The South Side native, wife and veteran theater actress landed a series regular role in Fox’s “APB” and had her first child.
Perry plays police officer Tasha Goss in the drama (8 p.m. Mondays on WFLD-Channel 32) about a millionaire who creates an APB app to help a Chicago police district fight crime.
Gideon Reeves (Justin Kirk) takes over the fictional District 13, where he outfits officers with high-tech equipment such as lightweight protective clothing, improved tasers, tech-loaded vehicles and drones. Even with the new gear, Goss and her fellow officers still have to chase criminals to catch them.
Perry was six months pregnant when she filmed the pilot last year, running around her hometown pretending to arrest suspects. In July, she had Charlie Pearl, her daughter with her husband, actor and playwright Kevin Douglas. By August, the Los Angeles-based family — with 2 1/2-week-old Charlie in tow — moved back to Chicago. Perry started playing hard as a police officer again.
“Two weeks in, it was about 90 degrees. We were in our Kevlar suits and I was running after a bad guy, trying to tackle him,” she said. “After doing that over and over, I almost passed out.”
Aside from the physical challenges, Perry said she had to emotionally prepare to leave her new baby for eight to 10 hours a day.
“It was a little challenging, but my mama did it with four kids,” Perry said. “Other people do it. It has to get done.”
Besides, little Charlie was in good hands; if she wasn’t with her father, she was surrounded by Perry’s relatives, many of whom still live in Chatham.
Taking a job in her hometown turned out to be a blessing, Perry said. “It was so important for her to just have that first six months of life around her loved ones,” she said. “It was perfect. I’m so happy.”
“APB” viewers in Chicago may recognize Perry, who grew up in Marynook, Beverly and Chatham, for one of her “‘favorite gigs ever.” For almost seven years in the early 2000s, Perry served as an Illinois Lottery host on WGN, announcing winning numbers and “making people’s dreams come true.”
At the same time, Perry worked in Chicago’s performing arts scene. Her first job was in a 2003 production of “The Side of Angels” at Breadline Theater. “ ‘My man,’ ” she said, laughing as she remembered one of her four lines. “I was so excited about those four lines. It was my first play, and I was saying, ‘Somebody’s actually taking me seriously as an actor.’ ”
The role was important for Perry, because she hadn’t had any formal training as an actor except one acting class in college. While studying health and society at the University of Rochester, Perry wanted to work in physical therapy. She interned as an athletic trainer while in school, but one day realized the career wasn’t for her.
She decided to try acting, so she moved back to Chicago and started auditioning. Perry admits she was pretty naive, laughing as she recalled how she would show up for auditions with a cover letter, resume and a Polaroid picture of herself.
“It was terrible,” she said. “I had no clue.”
She thinks her naivete helped her endure, and during every workshop and each job she observed everything and everyone around her, soaking up all she could. It was on-the-job training.
Obviously, it’s paid off. After her role at Breadline, she performed at the Second City and even helped found the sketch comedy group Soul Fools. She’s worked as a fulltime actress since 2007, appearing in productions at Maat Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theatre (MPAACT), Lookingglass Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater and the Goodman Theatre, among others.
She’s also performed on New York stages and in other TV roles before “APB.”
Now that filming of “APB” is over and the family is back in Los Angeles, 6-month-old Charlie is her top priority. But if “APB” returns for a second season, Perry is ready to jump back into uniform.
She’s also ready to be an advocate for working mothers.
“There are a lot of women in this industry who are waiting and waiting and waiting to have kids. But they’re also waiting for this job to come along,” she said. “If a baby is what you want, you can do it all. I’m a living testimony to that.”
More from Curt Wagner at http://tvshowpatrol.com/