Tyler James Williams grows up

    Everybody might hate Chris, but you can’t help but love Tyler James Williams! The actor, who made a name for himself playing out the thoughts of Chris Rock’s younger self on “Everybody Hates Chris,” is back in Let It Shine, a Disney movie that shows the personal journey of a talented teen as he gains confidence in himself.

    Tyler sure has grown up since his days on “Everybody Hates Chris,” but he never forgot the show that put his name on the map. “When I really do kinda miss it is when I’m going in for other projects, and they’re not as well-written as that was. We were kinda—we were really spoiled. We really were.” He still keeps in touch with his former co-stars, and mentioned running into Tichina Arnold, who played his tough-as-nails mom on the sitcom, while doing some promotional work for "Let It Shine."

    “It’s kinda like all those people from high school,” Tyler said. “We went through [the show] at the same time, so—and we’re all in the same industry so we all see each other all the time.”

    He also spoke about the business that he’s pretty much grown up in, and the fact that it changes from day to day. “That’s what I think is so great about the industry, is that a lot of times, you see a lot of the same roles going to the same people, but then every now and then, kinda like with Coco Jones from Let It Shine and Trevor [Jackson], like, where did these two come from? It’s like they’re really good!” Tyler said. “I kinda had an idea of who was gonna be cast, and it wasn’t that at all! Here are these two kids, who are ridiculously talented, and it’s like, well where were y’all?”

    Tyler served as more than just a co-star for the newbies. He was also kind of a mentor for Coco and Trevor, who are relatively new to the business. Tyler remembered back to when he was where they are now, just starting out. “It was so weird, but it was great to see that stuff that I’ve learned, I was able to pass on to them and see them use [that knowledge]," he said. "’Cause that’s kind of what it’s all about.”

    And speaking of mentoring, Tyler said he is forever grateful to those who mentored him along the way. “Tichina, definitely. I learned pretty much everything comedy-wise from her. Ali LeRoi, which was our head writer and co-creator, she’s the one who sat me down and gave me stand-up specials and movies to watch,” he said. Tyler also mentioned Kerry Washington and Benjamin Bratt as folks who have passed some knowledge his way. “Every single project, I kind of take something from someone.”

    See how Tyler puts his learnin’ to good use when Let It Shine premieres on June 15 at 8 p.m. (EST) on the Disney Channel.

    Watch a clip from the movie below.

    For more on Tyler, check out the June 2012 issue of Sister 2 Sister magazine.






    —Ariana Gordon


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