Tyler James Williams Says Becoming Famous As A Child on ‘Everybody Hates Chris’ Was “Traumatic”


Abbott Elementary has become a hit show since it premiered in 2022, scoring Golden Globe and Emmy Awards for the show’s outstanding writing and cast. But actor Tyler James Williams is no stranger to achieving television fame.

The child star turned television heartthrob recently opened up about his experiences working on Everybody Hates Chris from 2005-2009, where he became famous just as he was becoming a teenager. He called experiencing fame at that age “the weirdest shit in the world.”

“The time this was happening was the same time the internet was becoming more ingrained in the industry,” Williams told GQ. “So as I’m going through the most awkward years of my life, everyone sees it. I think my voice was cracking nonstop during Seasons 2 and 3.”

He continued, “I was trying to find myself in front of everybody. And everybody had an opinion and was getting used to getting theirs out.”

The sitcom was semi-autobiographical, inspired by Chris Rock’s teenaged years in Brooklyn. Williams played Rock on the UPN/CW sitcom, showing the comedian as he grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant and attended high school.

Starring at the helm of the show was not easy. “​​I learned how to carry a show in a matter of two or three months,” Williams recalled. “It’s the most useful information I’ve ever gotten in my life.” 

But achieving fame at such a young age was “traumatic,” he says. He described being in therapy for years as a result. Williams also had to deal early on with the idea that Everybody Hates Chris could have been the end of his career if he didn’t think fast.

One particular moment from working on the show that stuck out to him was the time an Everybody Hates Chris producer told him, “I’ll never see you as anything else and you’ll probably never work again.” He noted that, while it might have been a joke, he internalized the comment.

The end of Everybody Hates Chris marked a turning point for him. “I decided to stop and pivot,” he said. “I got with a really good acting coach and I turned down every single thing I was offered.”

Williams went on to win a Golden Globe Award for best supporting actor on Abbott Elementary.