Tyler James Williams embodies a talent and spirit that is untamable. This 20-year-old has yet to fade into the obscurities of Hollywood, landing roles on shows ranging from Law & Order SVU to his recent work in the Disney Channel movie, Let It Shine.
Using each and every opportunity to his advantage, it’s his 'can’t stop, won’t stop' attitude that has not only landed him a spot on our 20 Most Futuristic Stars Under 20 list, but has also launched him to a new plateau alongside Matthew Perry in the new NBC sitcom, Go On. The show follows Ryan King (Perry), a widowed sportscaster who is forced to join a grief support group, but manages to add an unexpected comedic flare.
VIBE had the opportunity to chop it up with Tyler James Williams to discuss Go On, working with Matthew Perry, his musical ability, and future plans.
VIBE: Most people know you as Chris from Everybody Hates Chris, but you’ve been dabbling in other projects since the show’s end. What about Go On is different from your other projects?
TYLER: I’ve done a lot of comedy in my career and Go On is one of those comedies that don’t just tackle jokes. It tackles real characters who have a real journey and that what was kind of attracted me to that, the fact that the character’s brother is in a coma and that’s something you can’t shy away from.
How did you become involved with the show?
It was a really interesting process. I was promoting Let it Shine when the script first came across my desk and they wanted me to go in and read. I wasn’t able to because I was kind of traveling around a bit, so it just kind passed my way and I was upset about it. But by the time I got back to L.A., it was still on the table, which was great. So I read with Matthew and we had a good chemistry going then we decided to move forward.
How has it been working alongside Mathew Perry who is considered a veteran in the television industry?
It’s been great! He’s had a substantial career with many successes. It’s been good to see someone who’s been through that stay level-headed and still about the work. He’s still about making sure the crowd around him is doing well.
You play Owen, a boy who’s dealing with his brother being in a coma post a ski accident. Was it difficult channeling your character?
It wasn’t that difficult. I’ve done a play called This is Our Youth, not too long before “Go On” and the characters were similar in that way. From doing theater, you do something for so long that you find characters that are somewhat similar, of course, no characters are exactly the same, but it’s easier tapping into that voice.
You recently connected music with acting in Let it Shine. What was it like channeling that element within acting?
You’re dealing with a character who has so many emotional securities and issues of confidence and so much of hip-hop and rap is all about confidence, so it was interesting walking the line of who this person is and also the delivery of the songs that we had to think about in pre- production recording the music. So, when we get on the set, the performance isn’t so cocky when it the scene before it, he’s depressed. So, it was interesting walking that line combining the two because you had to sell the music but remember where you are in the story.
With that being said, are you interested in pursuing music any further?
It was kind of like a one-time thing. It was interesting. With Let it Shine, so many people assumed I was starting rap career after it (Laughs). If you look into the story, it was a complete rhyming play. It was based on Cyrano de Bergerac, and that’s where that came into that. Not to mention, that I’m not the best of singers. (Laughs) It was mainly just done for that.
Do you have any plans beyond Go On?
I’m just trying to make sure Go On is successful at this point. The first 13 episodes for any show are the hardest, making sure they’re as good as possible. At the top of year, we begin promoting, We the People with Kerry Washington and David Allen Grier. It was a project we did a while ago that we’re very proud of. It’s really funny and we’re excited for people to see it finally.
So, with Go On in mind as well as your future acting endeavors, how do you want your fans to view you now?
I think I would love the fans to just see me as an actor who can do many different things. At the end of the day, as successful as “Chris” was and how happy I was with it, it was just one show. At the end of the day, it’s about showing diversity and knowing hopefully the fan base will travel with me.