After finding out about the role on the new show, Jussie took action. “I jumped on Instagram and direct-messaged Lee and said, ‘Sir, I know you get this all the time, but I’m a singer, actor, dancer, songwriter and musician. I am Jamal Lyon in more ways than one.’ Then I kind of forgot to send it.” #Fail But he got the role in the end.
“I work out for two reasons: one, because I’m an actor and two, because I’m somebody’s future husband. I want to be prepared for the woman God has for me,” Trai said. Is that woman his co-star, and rumored boo, Grace Gealy? Grab our June issue and find out!
While working at Pizza Hut, Yazz had bigger dreams on his mind. “One day, while I was making chicken, I got caught making songs on my iPhone and my manager said, ‘Next time, you’re gonna get fired,'” Yazz said. “I used my last check to pay for my first music video, ‘Ransom.'”
Jussie went public about living as “a proud gay man” on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show and the world didn’t stop. “The sun rose the next day, the clouds were out and I was still able to go to Whole Foods, you know? And My mother said, ‘Hey, Baby,’ like she aways does. Nothing changed.”
Unlike his character Andre, Trai has high hopes for his future. “I believe what’s mine is mine, and destiny is already written,” he told ESSENCE. “I just have to catch up. As far as my ability as an artist, I ain’t even got started yet!”
“My bone came out,” the former high school running back says of his injured wrist. “As soon as I decided that I wasn’t going to play anymore, I started writing music and I just fell in love with it.”
Etched on Jussie’s left arm are the words “I’m Gonna Make a Change” from Michael Jackon’s song “Man In The Mirror.”
“If I can help someone else feel less alone, no matter what they’re going through, I’m happy to have that opportunity,” he said.
Even with all of the success of Empire, Yazz only needs one thing to feel successful. “Making my mom happy is all that matters to me. That’s what I can take home,” he said.
Pick up the June issue of ESSENCE Magazine, on newsstands now!