Actor TJ Wright is only 11 years old but has a very mature attitude toward dealing with rejection or not fitting in. “Sometimes, it can be a little bit hard to just be yourself but I usually get over it by just accepting the fact that if you're going to be unique, there's going to be some things that certain people aren’t going to understand.”
TJ touched audiences’ hearts when he played the character Sekani, the younger brother of the main character (played by Amandla Stenberg), in the 2018 movie, “The Hate U Give.” He’ll hit Netflix on Oct. 4 in the Michael B. Jordan-produced series based on the comic books, “Raising Dion.” Jordan also appears as the main character’s father in flashbacks.
TJ plays Chris, who is sort of an antagonist to the comic book-loving, fledgling superhero main character, Dion (Ja’Siah Young). In the midst of grieving a recent loss, Dion has just started a new school in the middle of the year when the series starts, and he’s having trouble fitting in with the skateboard-crazy students. Chris, a more popular kid, isn’t making it easy. “He’s kind of a bully,” TJ explains in an interview with The Miami Times. “But Dion just wants to be part of the skate crew, so that’s really what it’s about.”
“Raising Dion,” like so many productions nowadays, was filmed in Atlanta and TJ reveals he and his co-stars managed to have a lot of fun even though they were living in a hotel during that time. “Me and the kids I was filming with,” he explains enthusiastically, “would have a lot of fun at the hotel or go to have some fun or go to the pool and that was just awesome!”
Born in Chicago but raised in Miami, TJ likes to “draw and go to the pool,” when he’s back in Miami. in his free time. He also has a surprising way that he spends his time. “One thing I really love to do is go to the Perez Art Museum, which has a lot of cool art,” he said. His relationship with the Perez Art Museum Miami began after he and his mother went to the opening. “I just fell in love with it,” he said.
He also loves going to Frost Museum of Science. TJ admits he understands why some people might be skeptical about being able to have a good time at a museum. “Museums can sometimes be boring but these museums have lots of interactive things to do. My Mom and I will go on Sundays and it’s just a fun way to end the weekend.”
Wright started modeling at age 2 then acting at around age 4. He points out that forging a career is never an overnight thing. “My career really didn’t start to take off until I was 9. So, it really takes a lot of time and effort and patience because it took me a lot of auditions to finally book that first movie,” TJ said.
Some of TJ’s significant acting training took place in Los Angeles where he trained with a fellow Floridian who also started acting at a relatively young age, Adrian R-Monte. R’Monte is known on-screen for appearing in Disney Channel’s “The Suite Life Of Zack and Cody” and “CSI Crime Scene Investigation.” “He had a camp in Los Angeles and he helped me and my mom to see what I was getting into when I was so young, TJ said.
Wright, illustrates though, that you can still get a good acting foundation without having to be in L.A. He also did some of his acting training in Miami. “When you’re starting out,” he said, “CJ Bornacelli runs The Actory and it’s for people who are starting or who have a little bit of experience. It’s really good at helping people learn new things they can use when they go to audition.”
Social Media is another tool TJ said that a newcomer should use to get their career off the ground. TJ is on Instagram as @therealtjwright where he enjoys posting videos. He advises that it’s an ideal place for people who are starting out in entertainment. “Nowadays, that’s really the way to go to start your career when you don’t have too much money. You can really just go on social media and start your career if you go viral.”
In terms of acting role models, TJ looks up to the producer of “Raising Dion,” Michael B. Jordan. Though he didn’t get to do scenes with Jordan, TJ says, “It was just amazing to be part of a production that he worked on and was the producer on. That was just a blessing!”
Will Smith is decidedly Wright’s all-time favorite actor, however. “He seems like he would be super nice and when I see his Instagram videos they’re awesome! Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is awesome and it was an inspiration for me to start acting.”
More than that, Wright would love to see one of his stories brought to life on screen. “One of my dream roles,” he says, “would be to write my own character who has superpowers kind of like Dion does. I’d also like to play a flashback character. Like I was saying before, I love Will Smith, so I’d love to play his character on “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”