TR: Some say Hollywood is tough for young black actors. What are some obstacles you’ve faced in breaking onto the scene? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
TJ: Just coming from the hosting world, it’s kind of hard for people to see you in a different light. When people look at you as a host, it takes them a minute to break away from that. That’s the biggest challenge thus far.
Future plans are to become a leading man in Hollywood. Not a black leading man, but a leading man period. And, to hopefully get the good roles that I’ve dreamt of my whole life. That’s the ambition, and it’s just going to take a lot of hard work to get there.
TR: What are some of your best memories from 106 & Park? And, why do you think it’s so critical for 106 to cover news important to the black youth community, such as the Trayvon Martin case?
TJ: Being there to deliver the stories that change people’s lives — like [the earthquake in] Haiti. When the situation happened in Haiti, people were using 106 & Park to deliver their messages to loved ones that were displaced. Things like that really mean a lot to me.
It’s imperative because we’re really the only ones that can speak on Trayvon Martin. I am Trayvon Martin, just a couple years older, an African-American male. I know the challenges that he faced. It [was] truly an honor to be able to use the show as an outlet for his family to express their feelings. And, for his supporters, [supporters] of the movement that’s taken place, to express themselves.
Joshua Weaver is The Root‘s editorial assistant.