"I learned so much," 'The Hate You Give's youngest Carter, TJ Wright, talks about working with Regina Hall and Russell Hornsby
In an exclusive interview with Meaww, the 10-year-old talks about his acting career, from back when he was two years old and charts out his future plans.
The New York Times bestseller-turned-2018's must-watch film 'The Hate You Give' garnered raving reviews from critics but the one character who stole the show, grabbing the audience's attention to a heart-warming degree, was the youngest member of the Carter family -- Sekani Carter, played by 10-year-old TJ Wright.
Excited to be turning 11 next month, TJ Wright sits with Meaww for a quick interview and shared his biggest takeaway from the first movie he booked to currently working on a novel.
Our young actor also has had a hands-on directing experience as he debuted as a director when he was only 8 years old with a short film titled 'Separate Friends.'
Not an unknown face, Wright has appeared in CBS hit action-adventure television series 'MacGyver,' and in 'The Hate You Give,' he acts alongside Oscar-contending actors including Russell Hornsby, Amandla Stenberg, and Regina Hall.
You have nailed every scene as Sekani Carter in 'The Hate You Give.' Please walk us through your audition process and your reaction when you bagged the role.
Thank you - I appreciate that. This audition process was one of the craziest I’ve ever done. So, I did the audition before I left for vacation for a few weeks at end of the summer in 2017. Before I got the audition for Sekani, my mom was declining auditions since I was going on vacation. But 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.
After we submitted my audition, we went to NYC and then my mom dropped me in Philadelphia with my family. Like two days later I got the callback while I was in Philly. Both of my parents were in Miami. And, the callback was in Atlanta! My dad came from Miami to take me to Atlanta for the callback where I got to meet our amazing director, George Tillman, Jr.
I went crazy screaming when I booked the role. I couldn’t believe it. I thought my mom was lying. I worked a long time to book my first movie so it was an awesome feeling.
On screen, Starr and Sekani frequently bicker at each other, but how was your relationship with Amandla Stenberg off the screen?
I had an amazing relationship with Amandla off-screen. We had inside jokes and felt like family. She’s an amazing actress and one of my favorite people in the world.
How was your experience playing alongside powerhouse actors including Russell Hornsby and Regina Hall? Did they share any word of advice with you? What has been the biggest takeaway from the film for you?
It was definitely an amazing experience because I learned so much. Russell was great at helping me channel emotions. His acting techniques are so precise and it was the first time I really had to play off the emotions of my castmates.
Regina was an amazing mother figure on set - she really looked out for me especially when I had emotional scenes. I would say the biggest thing is that everyone was so down to earth and we all clicked.
As far as the biggest takeaway from 'The Hate U Give,' for me it is that there is always another side of the story so it’s important to have an open mind and an open heart.
You started your career when you were just two years old and by six you had booked a plethora of commercials. That's incredible. Who would you like to thank for your success and where do you see yourself next?
Thanks - it is incredible. And I have to thank my parents - they have done everything for as far as taking the time to take me to auditions and taking me further mentally. I’m claiming for my success to grow. I’m striving for more movie and television roles. I also see myself being 11 soon!
When you are not on camera, you are either dancing, swimming, painting, writing and pursuing photography. What don't you do? But on a serious note, what keeps you driven?
Positive vibes keep me driven. I block out negative vibes by being kind to people. And I get where I want to by doing my research and getting ideas.
At just 8-years-old you directed a short film 'Separate Friends.' Could you tell us more about this project and what was your inspiration behind this?
'Separate Friends' is about two friends who are different and another boy is trying to get them past their differences with love instead of hate. I was inspired by people who don’t get along at school. We are all different in our own ways but can still find ways to get along.
Are you working on any other projects that you'd like to share with us?
Well, I just wrapped a project that I can’t get into yet. But it will be cool because I’m playing a character that’s very different than my personality. I’m also working on a novel - I love writing because it shows a different side of me.
Where do you see yourself in the next two years?
In the next two years, I see myself making new friends, growing in my acting career and hopefully finishing my novel.