Chaka Forman was born in New York City and spent the first 8 years cultivating a love for travel that would long outlast his youth. He has lived in New York, Detroit, London, Atlanta, Providence, Los Angeles, Jamaica, and Thailand to name but a few places!
He got his start in Atlanta, GA at the ripe age of 10.“There were these people in the auditorium and I wandered in at lunch to see what all the fuss was. Turns out they were casting a local kids exploring show so I gave it a shot. Next thing I knew was mining for gold in Dahlonega with a camera in my face!” The show was Rainbow Magic and it gave him an early taste of life as a presenter.
Chaka went on to Brown University where he found the stage and graduated with a degree in Theatre Arts.“The first play I ever did was called Short Eyes. The bond I had with that whole crew reminded me of high school athletics in a weird way. That same intense feeling I had running stadiums with my teammates I got from being in the play. It was a transformative experience in my life.” His advisor and mentor John Emigh encouraged him to take his talents out in to the professional world, which he did. Chaka went on to a successful career as an actor. He has starring appearances in many television shows and films. He returns to the stage as often as possible.
When not on the set, Chaka loves working with kids. “It keeps me connected. Keeps me young! Kids are so pure, they still see life with infinite possibility.” Chaka works with incarcerated juveniles on a Shakespeare program, teaches games at a local middle school, and is a regular speaker at schools across Los Angeles. He coaches Varsity H.S. Soccer and teaches speech/debate.
The importance of progressive thinking and helping others was instilled in him from an early age. His father is James Forman, a pioneer in the American civil rights movement and grandmother is acclaimed British author and muckraker Jessica Mitford. “My dad told me not to go to sleep without being able to say I did something for someone other than myself that day. And I watched him live like that. And Grandec (his grandmother) always encouraged me to question everything, and hurry up in life! We were regulars at demonstrations, union meetings, protests – you name it.”
Chaka says his mom and step-dad were also strong influences, teaching him to not live beyond his means and always make a contribution to the larger cause. He also craves adventure. “I have to be outside, moving around. If I am inside for too long I go crazier than I already am. I need space, trees, oceans. And I am better when my heart is moving fast.” To that end, he loves to kayak, ride horses, surf, snowboard, play soccer and basketball, among other things! “I recently went camping with some friends and we climbed this rock face that led to a 30 foot cliff jump into the ocean. I was scared the whole way up and it took me a long time standing at the top looking down, but I did it. I think I wanna cimb more rocks now.”
He has recently taken up Yoga and meditation as well. “I needed to counter my manic energy.” He has 2 young children and the whole family enjoys retreats at Deer Park Monastery. “The monks have it figured out. That place slooooows me down.”
Chaka is very excited to join Pilot Productions as the host of Historic Walks. “I’ve had a lot of jobs in my life. I was an usher in Atlanta at Fulton-County stadium. I said, wait, someone will pay me to watch a baseball game. Sweet! I loaded boxes at UPS, peddled sandwiches at Subway, did office work at two law firms, community centers, sold furniture, taught ESL, poker, substitute teacher – off the top of my head. Walking the skyscrapers of NYC is waaaay high on the list!“
Chaka believes that his wide range of experiences and ability to connect with people are his biggest assets. “For me, it is all about human interaction. I love people. I would not do well alone on an island. I thrive on laughter, and making connections. These shows are amazing because they take people to places they could never go and expose people who would otherwise live in obscurity. My cup of tea!”