May 30, 2013
LAWT News Services
A ten-year journey of commitment, ambition and perseverance has paved Andre McClain’s way to becoming the Ringmaster for the 143rd Edition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Built To Amaze!S In addition to being a Ringmaster, Andre McClain is an accomplished animal trainer, cowboy, rodeo star, country singer and songwriter, and above all, an admired dad. This rancher has been around horses and rodeos since he was a baby, and is a descendant from a long, distinguished African-American cowboy heritage that dates back to the early 1900’s. Now in Ringling Bros. Presents Built To Amaze!, Andre truly represents a hip throwback to the origins of a Ringmaster by donning a spectacular gentleman's riding habit and directing the performance, exotic animal, and equestrian presentations.
Raised on a ranch in Kansas City, Missouri, Andre began riding bucking ponies and steers at the age of five. A rodeo competitor himself, Andre’s father, Lu, founded the Bill Pickett Rodeo in 1984, which was America’s first all-Black touring rodeo, and where Andre made his competitive debut at just seven-years-old.
Andre took pride in his cowboy heritage; he even rode his horse to high school every day! Andre “parked” his steed on the soccer field, and tended to him between classes. Andre’s college days were spent more conservatively at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and although initially a vocal music major, he received a degree in Business Management in 2000.
After school, Andre joined the International Professional Rodeo Association, and continued to compete in rodeo circuits. He taught himself a variety of “Wild West Arts” and took his one man show on tour with his father’s rodeo. In 2002, Andre visited the 132nd Edition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® to conduct research on stilts for a new routine he was considering for his show. During a behind-the-scenes chat with some of the clowns who used stilts in their act, his animal training background caught the attention of show personnel. In a twist of fate, he was offered a job working with the show’s exotic animal staff.
At the end of the tour, Andre auditioned his one-man act before Ringling Bros. producer Kenneth Feld and landed a position as the host of the 133rd Edition’s Three Ring Adventure now known as the All Access Pre-show. In the past ten years, Andre’s repertoire expanded from pre-show host to presenting and demonstrating the bond that he has with animals from horses and miniature hoofstock to camels.
Andre’s perseverance has resulted not only in his passion to have achieved the most recognized role at Ringling Bros. but also in matters of the heart. Andre, after two years of waiting, convinced the woman of his dreams, Daniele who also performs with Ringling Bros., to marry him. The newlywed couple are more excited than ever to build their life as husband and wife when The Greatest Show On Earth! launches Built To Amaze! in 2013.