TV’s Golden Child, Lonnie Chavis
photography by THE SKULLS stylist BRYAN JOEL male groomer ESTHER AMADO - @BELLADELUNEJoel by Bryan Joel shirt, vans, jacket dolce and gabbana tuxedoSource:
One show that has me on an emotional rollercoaster this season is, “This Is Us.” The show, in my opinion, is by far one of the most enthusiastic, temperamental, and histrionic show to date. The storyline follows a unique ensemble, as each of their paths interchange and their life stories intertwine, from sharing the same birthday, to revealing life-altering secrets. There are so many intricate and evolving story lines. I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Lonnie Chavis, who plays 9-year-old Randall. His character, has captivated everyone who watches the show, and I was beyond excited to meet him. I did my research before flying out to LA to meet him for his photo shoot, so I already knew he was an amazing kid, but I was taken aback by meeting him. The interaction gave me a profound respect for him and I can see that the compassion of his character was not hard for him to do, since he was such a benevolent young man. With supportive parents behind him, I can tell Lonnie is going to go far.
Lonnie, it was such a pleasure to have met you, and your beautiful mother, Najah, as well as your PR Sarah. This has been a surreal experience. I must say, you are definitely wise beyond your age. We spoke on many topics, but one thing you said really stuck with me, which allowed me to see how incredibly humble and genuine you are, was when you told me, “I WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND BE A GOOD PERSON” and you wanted to start giving back (especially) to the less fortunate and homeless. Can you explain to me why this is so important to you?
Leslie, it was a pleasure meeting you! I’m grateful for this opportunity and thanks for my hot chips they were delicious! Thank you so much Leslie the pleasure was all mine, thanks for letting me shine my light! I have a friend Khloe Thompson, she has her own charity, called Khloe Kares, and she gives bags with toothpaste, underwear, clothes, and other goods to homeless people. Khloe, is a real-life hero and she taught me that you can make a difference at any age. I want to always give back and help those that are in need for help.
Tell me about a time when you had a really bad day, but you had to perform. How did you get through it?
I think about how grateful I am for waking up today, because I know some other people didn’t wake up at all.
Who is your inspiration and why?
God is my inspiration, because he thought to create me.
What’s the most interesting thing about “you”— that I wouldn’t learn from watching you on TV?
I like to dance and fun is my middle name, lol.
What has been your biggest career challenge so far?
My biggest career challenge was when I was working on more than one project at a time, because I really couldn’t catch a break.
Give me one of your strengths and one of your weaknesses?
I have a really good memory that helps me memorize my lines quickly, but I’m also too hard on myself.
What was the biggest audience on set you have performed in front of, and did you get nervous?
The biggest audience was when I worked on Nickelodeon’s “The Thundermans”, all the writers and actors were there. No. I don’t ever get nervous. My name is Lonnie Chavis, lol. Have you seen the energy I have, lol?
Lonnie, do you have any questions for me?
What inspires you Ms. Leslie?
Well, Lonnie, what inspires me the most is, meeting new people and learning new things. I feel like we take so many things for granted, that we tend to forget the small details in life. So, I always like to feed off people’s energy, and always learn to be bigger and better in everything I do. Also, to remember all of the people along the way. I take the good with the bad and make sure I do whatever I can to inspire, and empower, and be different. Tell me about school, are you homeschooled, do you attend regular classes, and what is your favorite subject?
School is simple. I get one packet a week, because I’m homeschooled. I go in to see my teacher once a week, if I’m not working. So, my mom is basically my teacher. I like being homeschooled, because I get to learn my own way. I don’t have a favorite subject, but I like science more than anything, because it’s interesting and I can learn how to make stuff and create stuff.
What is your favorite holiday to celebrate and why?
I don’t celebrate holidays. But we do have a family tradition called Sunday Funday, where my brothers and I, get to pick something fun to do on Sundays. It’s mostly just my parents and my brothers, but sometimes other family members go with us.
What is your most memorable accomplishment so far? How did you achieve it?
My most memorable accomplishment, so far, was probably when I booked “This Is Us.” It was a very exciting moment. Because it was my first big job, it meant so much to me. I just went in there and did my best, and this time it was enough.
If you had a superpower what would it be?
To have every superpower! Lol that would be way cooler than having one! I would use my superpowers to defeat the bad guys and help those in need, kind of like Robin Hood and Superman mixed together, except I wouldn’t steal from the rich people.
What was the last book you read?
The Bible. I have my own bible that I use to read every day, which I need to start doing again I’ve just been really busy with work and school. The more I read the more I understand.
As of right now, who is someone you are looking forward to meeting or working with? Someone you look up to?
Will Smith! He is a really great actor. He’s done TV and movies, just like I want to do. I want to do a movie with him, where I’m a lost kid looking for my dad and he’s looking for me too. A lot of people have said that I look like Willow Smith and Jaden Smith, so I think that I can play his son.
I wanted to say, I think you play an amazing character on “This Is Us,” which happens to be my favorite show! I’m looking forward to the return of season two. My favorite scene so far is the father/son situation you have with Milo Ventimiglia (Jack “This is Us” father). How did you feel during that scene, knowing that in life, people are willing to carry you through life, no matter what? Did you feel a sense of connection with Milo?
Thank you… thank you very much! I learned that this is true… that my family has my back and I’m not alone in this world. I can always ask for help. I feel like Mr. Milo Ventimiglia, is one of those people that I can ask for help in life.
Does playing such an incredible character “Randall” in “This is us,” ever affect your personal understanding of how important family is, being that you have two younger brothers, who look up to you?
I already understand that family is important, but Randall teaches me not to be mean to my brothers, because I know what Randall goes through with his brother Kevin.
How similar is your role as Randall, compared to your real life?
I consider myself smart, kind, nice, and I’m comfortable being myself just like Randall.
Sterling K. Brown, plays your adult counterpart, how is it working with him?
I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with Mr. Sterling, he’s such a professional and he’s funny.
What was your favorite episode?
The season finale, because it really touched my heart seeing Jack and Rebecca having a big feud.
The show is known to be a tear jerker, was there ever a time on set that the actors got emotional during their scenes?
I don’t remember anyone crying, but the Karate scene was very emotional.
We know you must get a lot of attention now with all the fans who love your character in, “This is Us”, have you gotten used to all the attention from fans and media?
No, I’m not use to it. But I’ll get there.
Tell me something funny that happened on set?
One of our prop guys, Mr. Mario, challenged me to a dance battle, and he was actually pretty good! I would say he won, lol.
What are some of the projects you have in the works?
I’m going to start shooting, “White Famous,” soon, which is executive produced by Jamie Foxx. I play Jay Pharaoh’s son. It’s on Showtime and I’m a series regular. My first feature film will come out April 2018, called, “Magic Camp with Adam DeVine.” I got to work on Kevin Hart’s “Guide to Black History,” which should air on the History Channel, sometime this year. I just did a guest star on “Supergirl,” it’s on CW, and I got to do my own stunts and it will air Monday, May 8th. I also did a guest star on Disney’s “Tangled” the Series, which was really cool, because it was my first voice over and my TV mom Ms. Mandy Moore, plays the voice of Rapunzel. I just wrapped on a short film called “Skin”, directed by award winning filmmaker, Mr. Guy Nattiv. I worked with some really great people and this film is really deep, and gives a really great message.
Do you find it hard to play so many detailed characters?
It’s not hard, because I get help organizing everything.
Family is so important, playing different characters and having quite a few different TV parents, do you look at your own parents differently and appreciate the good and the bad?
Yes, it helps me appreciate that I even have both my parents here for me.
Besides all your ongoing projects, I know you enjoy reading, what’s your favorite thing to do on your downtime? Any hobbies?
I like to do regular kid stuff like, going to the park, hang out with my friends, play video games, go to amusement parks, and my hobby is dancing.
So, I hear you have a love for fashion, what are some of your favorite brands?
Right now, I like Zara, Polo, Crewcuts, and Gucci.
We know you enjoy dancing. What songs are on your music playlist that makes you want to dance?
We So Lit Right Now by Ayo & Teo, Tunnel Vision by Kodak Black, Rolex by Ayo & Teo, In Reverse by Ayo & Teo, 24 Karat Magic by Bruno Mars, Swang by Rae Sremmurd, and Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars.
Besides acting, what are some of the things you would like to do in the future?
I would like to learn to sing and play guitar.
We had the pleasure of styling you for the MTV Movie & TV awards, how was your red-carpet experience?
Thank you for styling me, my outfit was lit! My outfit made me feel alive, because Dolce and Gabbana is so stylish. I felt like a little man. I like Adidas, because they are really cool and I’m glad I wore sneakers because I was really comfortable. The red carpet was pretty cool at first. I walked in, took a couple of pictures and did a couple of interviews and took some fan pictures. But as soon as I stepped away from the fans it started raining, so everyone started getting umbrellas, and as soon as we got ours it started hailing. Real ice dropping down on the red carpet! The red carpet was soaked and pretty much so was my sneakers! Everyone ran inside and they shut down the carpet. It was actually pretty cool because I never seen hail before, but I don’t want to see it again lol.
Congratulations, on your big win for the category “Tear Jerker”! How did it feel to accept that award alongside of your buddy, Milo Ventimigla?
Thank you! It felt really great, because I never won an award before. I was surprised, it must have been so hard to choose… there was a lot of other great actors and I thought I actually wouldn’t win. So, as soon as I turned away to eat, they actually said, This Is Us! And then it hit me. It felt good for me to win an award with somebody that I look up to and have had fun working with.
How was your overall experience of the Awards, any highlights for you?
My overall experience at the MTV Movie & TV Awards was awesome! There were so many highlights, like being with my “This Is Us” family and meeting John Cena. Oh, and Sofia Carson told me that, her family loves “This Is Us” and she took a picture with me on her phone to send to her parents. She was really nice and really sweet to me. I got to meet Ayo and freaking Teo, the dancing twins, who make some of my favorite songs right now— and I will cherish that moment forever! I got to finally meet Taraji P. Henson and Marcus Scribner, from Blackish. Oh, I also got to see Ashton Sanders, who’s like my big bro and meet his Moonlight costar, Jharrel Jerome. That was cool! That night was fire!
Is there anyone you forgot to thank in your acceptance speech?
I forgot to thank Mr. Dan Fogelman! Who is the creator of the show, and without him there would be no “This Is Us”… thank you, Mr. Dan!
How heavy was that popcorn trophy?
That popcorn trophy felt like a huge piece of metal! It was very heavy. But it looked really cool! Like real popcorn… glad I had Mr. Milo there to help me carry that or I might have broken something.
Does the nomination for “Tear Jerker” hold any special meaning to you, personally?
Not really, but that scene was a heartbreaking moment. I’m glad that people can connect with the show, because I connect with it, too. And that’s a wrap! I had so much fun on set with you, you certainly brought out the kid in me. And I forgot to mention, you did a phenomenal job on “Supergirl”, as Marcus! Lonnie, I wish you all the best on all your future endeavors. You are one of the most gifted and talented young men I’ve ever encountered, and I hope that God continues to bless you and your family! I’m looking forward to season two of “This is us” and all your upcoming projects! In my Lonnie voice, this interview was lit, our crazy paper fight was lit, We littttt!!
photography by THE SKULLS
stylist BRYAN JOEL
male groomer ESTHER AMADO – @BELLADELUNE