Fox's Empire is unique not only in being the hottest show of the spring or filled with some awesome stars, but it's also turning some little known actors into well-known names in their own right. Ten years ago, Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson broke out in the Oscar-nominated film Hustle & Flow. Now, they star in Empire as the parents to three sons, who are played by on-the-verge actors Trai Byers (Andre), Jussie Smollett (Jamal), and Bryshere Gray (Hakeem). Smollett and Gray are both musicians in their own right and Empire can only bolster those careers. Already, Gray, who also goes by Yazz the Greatest outside ofEmpire, has gotten a lot of attention — and some great quotes in the press.
Gray has been rapping under the name Yazz the Greatest since he was 16, and now the 21-year-old is giving acting a shot. In the Philadelphia native's first major on-screen role, Gray has gotten to share a love scene with supermodel Naomi Campbell, as well as perform on some fancy stages and shoot a pretty legit music video. As Yazz the Greatest, he's opened shows for 2 Chainz and Fabolous, he's being mentored by Will Smith, and he's even got a clothing line called "YTG," which will have "Drip Drop" shirts.
But what does Gray have to say about all of that? Here's the actor in his own classic words.
On Hakeem's Love Scene With Campbell
On How He Started Rapping
"Well, I started rapping when I was 16," he told Vibe. "I was working at Pizza Hut. I was just tired. I was like ‘Is this life?’ I just graduated and I started rhyming and really fell in love with it. When I did my first performance, I was like ‘This is what I really want to do.’ People loved what I did on stage. I used my first Pizza Hut check to pay for my music video and I promoted it everywhere on Facebook at crazy hours. I was writing raps at my job and I got fired. After I got fired, I just really committed to it."
On Hakeem As A Character
"Hakeem, you know him by just being a spoiled, young brat," Gray told The Hollywood Reporter. "He's the child of a billionaire who doesn't have any guidance on being a man in this world, so he gets advice and his strategies from mistakes he makes in life. He's very reckless. He’s a kid that’s trying to grow, so you get to see him grow in front of your eyes."
On The Advice He Received From Will Smith
"I learn from people like Will Smith, and he gives me advice, saying like, 'If you ever feel like you can’t find it or you feel embarrassed when you’re doing something, don’t feel embarrassed; you’re bringing real life on camera,'" he told The Hollywood Reporter.
On How Empire Addresses Homophobia
On "Drip Drop"
"'Drip Drop' is a wonderful song," Gray told Complex. "We’re working with the best of the best, so it’s only gonna put you at that level. It was fun to create 'Drip Drop.' If you really understand what that song means as a female, you turn up to it."
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