December 3, 2018 Interview – TJ Wright
Finding a passion for acting very young, now at only 10 years of age, TJ Wright has already made his presence known. Starting out on stage at only 4, by 6 years old, Wright was already taking regular parts in commercial, and most recently had the chance to shine in the critically acclaimed film The Hate U Give.
A film based on the Angie Thomas’ novel which spent over 70 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list, in the feature film, Wright plays Sekani Carter, the younger brother of lead character Starr (Amandla Stenberg: The Hunger Games 2012, Sleepy Hollow series). Bringing with him a tremendous performance, Wright left a lasting impression on audiences everywhere. Grateful for the chance to star in such a socially important film, the young enthusiastic Wright recently took the time to chat about working as an actor, his experience on the set of The Hate U Give, plus more.
Cryptic Rock – You began your acting career very young, and in the last few years, have already starred on television and a feature film after appearing in commercials. First, what has your experience as a professional actor been like thus far?
TJ Wright – My experience as an actor so far has been amazing. I’ve gotten to work with amazing actors and actresses such as Amandla Stenberg and Russel Hornsby. I’ve also gotten to work in commercials and travel to really cool places. Actually, I just found a video last night of a commercial shoot in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands from a few years ago – shows just some of the fun I’ve had. I feel lucky to be able to do these great things.
Cryptic Rock – It is great to be able to look back on your progression as a performer. Seeing you have already had a lot of experience and training, when did you realize acting was something you wanted to pursue?
TJ Wright – From the first time I did a commercial shoot, I figured out that acting was my passion. I wanted to be an actor because I knew I could change the world but also do what I love.
Cryptic Rock – That is a wonderfully positive attitude. We face personal challenges everyday in our lives, no matter how big or small. That in mind, how important has your family’s support been as you continue along your acting career?
TJ Wright – My family support has been beyond this galaxy amazing. They have supported me by taking me to LA, Atlanta, and auditions all over the place. They encourage people to watch my commercials, or go see The Hate U Give, or tune into interviews. One thing that my parents have always told me is, at the end of the day, if I don’t want to be an actor, they would never make me do it. I love being an actor, but knowing that takes off a lot of pressure because I can be who I am without being judged or pressured.
Cryptic Rock – It is great to hear how supportive they are. You mentioned The Hate U Give, one of your most recent films, which has received critical acclaim. How did this role come about for you?
TJ Wright – I got the role through a crazy audition process. It was the end of the summer in 2017 and I was getting ready to travel for a few weeks when I got the audition. My mom had been declining auditions since I was going to be away for a few weeks. We accepted The Hate U Give audition because there was no date for callbacks so my mom thought callbacks might be after I got back home. I did the self-tape audition for the role of Sekani before I left for New York with my mom.
Then, she dropped me in Philadelphia with my family on a Sunday. Like two days later I got the callback while I was in Philly when both of my parents were in Miami! The callback was in Atlanta! So, my dad came from Miami to take me to Atlanta and I got to meet the one and only, George Tillman, Jr., during a fun callback. My dad flew me back to Philly and he went back to Miami.
I was super excited to get the job after all that back and forth. I was also excited for this to be my first big movie role with a film that could make a big impact on this world.
Cryptic Rock – Wow, very cool how it all worked out. The film certainly draws a lot of attention due to its real-to-life and relevant subject matter. Giving a great performance, what was it like portraying the role of Sekani Carter?
TJ Wright – It was amazing because he was joyful but he also had a serious impact on the storyline. I relate to him because we are both joyful people and want to make people smile. We are both learning about our personalities and the people we want to be.
Cryptic Rock – You did a great job with your portrayal. You also worked with a good cast of talented young and veteran actors. What was the experience like working with the other cast members?
TJ Wright – The experience was amazing because they all helped me become a better actor. They became like family to me which made everything more real on camera.
Cryptic Rock – It sounds like it was a very good learning experience. With the positive reviews that have come with the film, the most important thing is the message. Have you found, among your friends and family, people talking about the subject matter more?
TJ Wright – Yes, in my family and some of my friends outside of school. I’m learning how to use my voice even if I seem too young to do it.
Cryptic Rock – We are never too young to use our voice. We are constantly growing and learning about each other, so it is great that you are growing, as we all are, no matter our age. With The Hate U Give out now, what are some other projects you have coming up that you can talk about?
TJ Wright – I can tell you that I just wrapped work on a new show, but I can’t tell you much about it… yet. I am excited for people to see a different side of me – a different character that I get to play in the show. So, stay tuned…
I’m also writing a mystery novel that has a little bit of Horror to it. It’s about a girl who thinks her stepmother is out to kill her. I love writing a lot because it shows another aspect of me. Hopefully I can come back and chat with Cryptic Rock after I finish it!
Cryptic Rock – That will be something to look forward to! Outside acting, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
TJ Wright – A lot! Are you ready? I love drawing, playing volleyball (I just started), going to the pool, writing scripts, meeting new people, making slime, trying new food, traveling…
Cryptic Rock – It seems like you have a well-rounded mix of interests! Last question. On Cryptic Rock, we also cover movies, particularly Horror and Sci-Fi. If you are a fan of these genres, what are some of your favorites and why?
TJ Wright – I love aliens. I am pretty sure I am one – I am just waiting on those results. So, I’d say I’m more into Sci-Fi. One of the first Sci-Fi films I saw was Back to the Future (1985), which was really cool because it has an awesome combo of futuristic and vintage stuff. I relate to this style a lot – I recently rocked some Star Trek glasses with a vintage sweater and titled it “throwback to the future.”