‘Everybody Hates Chris’ Producer Told Tyler James Williams That He’d Never Work Again

The ‘Abbott Elementary’ star still remembers his awful boss who told him he’d only ever be Chris Rock
‘Everybody Hates Chris’ Producer Told Tyler James Williams That He’d Never Work Again

Since this somehow doesn’t go without saying, here’s a tip to every asshole producer in show business who works with child actors: Never, ever tell a child that they’re never going get another part once you’re done with them.

Though the general rule of “don’t be a monster to children” should be a given for anyone in any profession, it rings especially true for whichever Everybody Hates Chris producer mistakenly told Tyler James Williams that his young career would end with the series finale. Today, Williams is the star of one of the most popular and critically acclaimed comedies on TV with Abbott Elementary, but, at 30 years old, he still remembers a remark made to him by one of his bosses while he was a teen star on the Chris Rock-created sitcom. 

As Williams revealed in a recent GQ profile, that paltry producer told him of his performance as a young Rock, “I’ll never see you as anything else, and you’ll probably never work again.” To which an adult Williams might reply, “Tell it to my Golden Globe.”

“I was like, ‘Holy shit, you really just looked at me and said that,’” Williams said of the comment, which he notes may have been a misguided attempt at humor that is no less unacceptable for an adult authority figure to tell their child employee. 

Obviously, it’s not uncommon for the star of a beloved sitcom to become too synonymous with their character — just look at two-thirds of the cast of Friends — and Williams admitted to experiencing a very early mid-career crisis when Everybody Hates Chris concluded in 2009. “I realized at 17 that I didn’t like the road I was on,” Williams said. “So I decided to stop and pivot. I got with a really good acting coach, and I turned down every single thing I was offered.”

Slowly but surely, Williams built a distinctly not-Chris-Rock-esque career, landing significant roles on The Walking Dead, Dear White People and The United States vs. Billie Holiday before landing the part of the lanky, buttoned-up dreamboat Gregory Eddie on Abbott Elementary. In the Quinta Brunson-led project, Williams’ performance as the straitlaced substitute turned full-time teacher is a perfect straight man with some occasional endearingly awkward vulnerability mixed in. 

Now, as Abbott Elementary approaches the end of its second critically-acclaimed season, Williams has already established himself as one of TV’s best comedic actors by playing a part that no one in the world would confuse with a 30-year-old Chris Rock. Williams’ continued success isn’t just a “screw you” to whichever producer felt the need to crush a child’s dreams, but a victory over typecasting itself — just don’t go hosting any Oscar nights, Tyler.

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