D. Today In DaStarrLab I have actor Trai Byers who stars in the new Lee Daniels directed TV series Empire airing January 7, 2014 on Fox. Also, he stars in movie Selma.
D. How are you doing Trai? I heard about your recent trip to Mexico...How was that?
T. I'm fine buddy. God is good all of the time. Mexico was great. I spent some time in Playa Del Carmen at a beautiful beachside resort. Lot's of great food!! Went on an expedition of Coba, climbed an old artifact, swam in a cenote, zip lined across a lagoon full of alligators...or crocodiles...one of them!! Great fun.
D. So where are you from? Do you still reside there? When did you begin your career?T. I'm originally from Kansas City, KS. I now live in California. I would say my career officially began in May of 2011. I had just graduated from The Yale School of Drama and immediately booked a job on a soap opera called "All My Children".
D. You are apart of the Cast for Fox's new tv series Empire this fall. How did you land that role?T. I auditioned. Had a series of auditions. God was with me. I believe this was my appointment, not merely winning a job as an actor, but landing where I belonged at the time I was to arrive there.
D. How was it working with big names in the business such as Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, and Malik Yoba?T. Fantastic! Each of these artists are incredible at their craft. I count myself blessed to watch them at work and to get the opportunity to work closely with them. It's like going back to acting school. I love it.
D. Can you tell our readers about your character? Was it an easy character to get nail or did you have to do a little soul searching to deliver the role?T. My character, Andre Lyon, is the oldest son of Terrence and Taraji's characters. He is an ivy league educated businessman who has come back home to help take Empire Enterprises to the next level, business wise. He is in contention with his two younger brothers to succeed his father as owner of Empire, and feels he is being shut out by his parents. So he is willing to do whatever it takes to get what is rightfully his. He also has a lot of help from his wife, (portrayed by the fabulous Kaitlin Doubleday) who is equally ambitious. It's a modern day Macbeth with the two of them.T. This character dwells in the darker places of me, so I do a lot of shifting through emotions involving abandonment, guilt, and hurt. He also struggles with depression, so once again it can go to some really dark places.
D.What do you do to relax? Or too pamper yourself?D. How was it working with a big time director like Lee Daniels?T. Lee is a genius. An absolute genius and extraordinary collaborator. I am truly blessed to work with such a talent who brings my talent to new and higher levels. Grateful, that's all I can say.
D. As an actor you have an idea of what you can be or how you want to present yourself to your audience. I have to say I had a small role on "Empire" and I thought you where a sharp, polished guy. It's sometimes hard to find people to admire so what is your advice for new talent?T. Thank you! That blesses me. I would say to be yourself. Every character you play will be an extension of you, because you are the vessel that gives them life. The better you know yourself, and the more of yourself that you are, the more original your character will be....because there's only one you. You can't be Terrence Howard or Denzel or Daniel Day Lewis, and why would you want to be? Who wants to be a second rate version of someone else when they can be a Prime version of themselves. That's what was meant from the beginning. So, be yourself truly. Everything else falls into place.
D. Ok... Let's talk guy stuff. I know most of my male friends including myself love video games? Are you a video game buff? or sports? What's your fav. Teams?T. I'm old fashioned. I light up when I get to play Super Mario Bros. or Sonic the Hedgehog on Sega or Super Nintendo. Just ancient, right? I do like "Call of Duty" though!I'm more of a sports guy, especially Basketball. Favorite football team: The Saints. Favorite basketball team: It was Miami, and not for the reasons that you think. I have long been a Ray Allen Fan (Jesus Shuttlesworth!) Just a great three point shooter. Now...I don't know. I'll see which team's style fits my style.
D. I'm the same way. I love the old Supermario and Sonic. I still have my gameboy. lol. Your pretty athletic. Do you have any sports or hobbies that keep you in shape?
Trai Byers & David "Dion" CollierT. I work out all the time buddy. I do a lot of running, and play basketball!
D. Do you like fashion? What are some designers or accessories you like in your wardrobe?T. Hate to disappoint you, but I'm not into fashion....AT ALL! I'm a t-shirt and jeans guy, unless I have to do something else.
D. I have to ask Are you dating?T. No sir.
D. What would you look for in a spouse?T. I could give you the regular answers, "someone who is like me, and understands me, pretty, goes to church, etc. Truth is this, I've been there and done that. It still didn't work, and not because there were tremendous bumps in the road. It didn't work because it wasn't meant to. So, these days I look a little deeper. I'm a little more serious, when it comes to the idea of a spouse. I want the one who was MADE for me. I truly believe I will know it when I see it, and I don't mind waiting for her.
D. I feel the same way. We don't know what God really has inshore for us.
T. Steak, red wine, and Luther! (Vandross)D. Do You have any other up-coming projects?T. This summer, I had the honor of participating in a film called "Selma". I play a character named James Forman, a leader of SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee). This, my friend, is a special movie with incredible performances! It will release in theaters on Christmas Day to major cities, and on it goes nationwide.
D. What's next for you? What are your goals within and outside of the business?T. My man, I am a present moment kind of guy. For now, I'm shooting this series, next....God knows. As for goals, I am also a writer. Also interested in directing on day. Everything in it's time.
D. How can fans contact you?T. I'm available on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
D. Trai Thank you so much! Im sure I will be seeing a lot more of you on the small and big screen.T. Thank you so much! God bless you. Have a great day.
Don't Forget To Check Trai Byers Out In Selma That is In Theaters right now & Empire which airs on Fox On January 7, 2014.
Also Follow Trai On Twitter: @JustTrai & Instagram: TraiByers