Tyler James Williams Claims Everybody Hates Chris Producer Said He'd 'Probably Never Work Again'

Some child actors struggle to grow and find new roles as they grow older. Other actors of any age can be so tightly associated with a certain role that they can struggle to shake it, or convince casting directors to see past it.

That seemed to be what Tyler James Williams says was happening when a producer purportedly told him he might “never work again” after starring as a young Chris Rock on “Everybody Hates Chris” through his teen years.

In a new interview with GQ, Williams recalled the producer telling him about his work as young Chris, “I’ll never see you as anything else and you’ll probably never work again.”

“I was like, ‘Holy s— you really just looked at me and said that,'” Williams said. He did note, however, that the the comment may have been intended as a joke. But for the young actor, it still hit hard.

The actor, now 30, proved that wrong with a string of prominent roles, including one of the most memorable characters (and deaths) on “The Walking Dead,” and his current award-winning role on “Abbott Elementary.”

Despite his current successes, Williams said that it was “traumatic” growing up in front of the cameras. He was also very conscious of getting typecast after getting his break in a sitcom, or being forced to play teen roles for years and years, so he intentionally took a hard turn.

“I realized at 17 that I didn’t like the road I was on. So I decided to stop and pivot,” he explained. “I got with a really good acting coach and I turned down every single thing I was offered.”

When he did step back into the world of acting more prominently, it was with a wider variety of roles (yes, including another shot at a sitcom with the short-lived “Go On”) and more complex roles on shows like “Walking Dead,” “Criminal Minds,” “Whiskey Cavalier” (with “Dead” co-star Maggie Cohan), and “Dear White People.”

He admitted he was reluctant to return to the world of sitcoms, but it was “Abbott” creator and star Quinta Brunson who was able to convince him. The role of Gregory was written just for him after they’d worked together on “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” and after a two-hour conversation about him, Williams signed on.

It was definitely a good decision, as “Abbott Elementary” has gone on to become a critical darling and ratings smash. While the show has dominated in awards circles, Williams has been doing pretty well himself, picking up a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award, an NAACP Image Award, and an Emmy nomination.

Wiliams says he’s proud to be portraying a positive and ordinary Black man on broadcast television. He said that he’s always hated that love interest characters “were either were either the same brand of white man, or, if he was Black, he was ‘the unique other.’ The asterisk. Almost an angel that fell to Earth.”

He’s proud that people think of Gregory as someone they might see at the corner store or at church. He also said that he’s not sure how long he’ll be comfortable riding this thirst train. “I hope people don’t expect me to maintain this,” he laughed. “I’m going away again after this is done.”

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