'Empire' Star Bryshere Y. Gray Lived With Michael Bivins For Two Weeks To Prepare For His New Edition Role

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To prepare for the upcoming New Edition biopic, the actor got an ultimate crash course in all things Michael Bivins in the coolest way possible.

With BET’s newest biopic The New Edition Story, heading to the small screen soon, candy girls everywhere are going crazy over the teaser clips and cast members who’ll be portraying the members of everyone’s favorite guy group. 

One cast member in particular—Bryshere ‘Yazz’ Gray—is no stranger to attention thanks to his starring role on FOX’s hit drama Empire. Grey recently shared at an advanced screening at the Urbanworld Film Festival how important it was to him to play a character completely different than Hakeem Lyon. 

“For me being on television every week, I just wanted to pick a character that you would step away from, where you wouldn’t see Hakeem,” Gray said. “I wanted to make sure you would see Michael Bivins and New Edition. So I took it as a responsibility.”  

Recommended for the role by Michael Bivins’ wife, the 22-year-old actor got the ultimate crash course in all things New Edition by living with the Bell Biv Devoe group member for two weeks while preparing for his role.

“Well, it was a lot of pressure, but Mike told me, if you’re going to play me then you have to stay with me for two weeks, so I did,” Gray said. “I just watched him and tried to get his whole charisma down. Everything about him is stored in my brain. I tried to learn more about his family, his friends, his peers, I just tried to capture that essence of who he was back then.”

The actor continued on to say that he even talked to Bivins’ mom to gain insight for the role, while his cast members agreed that he portrayed the singer perfectly.  

What was probably the most endearing was how the cast clicked onstage during the Q&A, but that’s no surprise according to Gray his fellow castmates and crew are like family. 

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“I have to just say this has been one of the best casts I’ve ever worked with,” he said. “I’m just so honored to be working with Chris [Robinson, the director] as well. But in terms of Michael Bivins, he’s the brains, it was just an honor to play him.”

The New Edition Story will be gliding onto small screens at the top of next year for a six-hour, three-night event on BET on Jan. 24, 25 and 26, 2017.

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