Q: Did Clarence Gilyard Jr. ever compete in rodeos? He wears a large cowboy buckle most of the time when in jeans.

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Adam Thomlison / TV Media

The love of horse riding and all things western is not acting for Clarence Gilyard Jr.

Indeed, he says his rodeo skills are a part of what earned him his most famous role -- Ranger Jimmy Trivette on "Walker, Texas Ranger."

His agent directed him to the casting call, he said, and he immediately thought it was a good fit.

"I was pretty much a cowboy back then," he said in an interview with Get.tv. "When I looked at the breakdown for the character, it was pretty obvious … because of the physicality -- because I was a martial artist, because I rodeoed, because I played college football. All those things, that was what the character was."

There doesn't seem to be a list anywhere of rodeo competitions that he's won, so I can't say for sure which or how many of his belt buckles were prizes, but he's earned his rodeo cred in another, maybe more valuable way.

Gilyard is the honorary chairman of the charity Cowboys for Kids, a Phoenix-based organization that raises money for children in need. He also competes in celebrity rodeo competitions as a fundraising activity.

But these days, his devotion to riding and roping is a pastime at best, playing second fiddle to his true love of acting. But his devotion to the West is still strong.

After working for years in the business, he went back to school at 50 to earn a master of fine arts degree in acting, and now teaches theater at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.


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