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  • Eric K. Thomas

Tyler James Williams Talks About His Role in "The United States vs. Billie Holiday"


We don't see Everybody Hates Chris star Tyler James Williams enough but it's not to say he doesn't get sent scripts. As a child star, he is fortunate to be in a good financial place where he can choose what roles he wants to play. For him, when he reads a script, the character and/or the story but fulfilling. "If my work is not doing something and pushing a conversation forward and changing the conversation and possibly lives if we can, then I'm not fulfilled at this point," Williams shares.



Well, it makes sense that a role in a film about the iconic Billie Holiday would be rewarding to the actor. Williams plays Lester "Prez" Young in the film The United States vs. Billie Holiday who is the friend and saxophonist of Billie Holiday. Recently, we had the opportunity to speak with Williams about how he got involved in the project, what he learned about Billie Holiday and more.


On how Tyler started working on the project, he shares.


I got the script for the project, I'm gonna say maybe about four or five months out from the shooting. And I absolutely loved it. Susan Laurie Parks did a fantastic job writing it. And I loved Billy's relationship to Lester and how I didn't know much about it.


Tyler says he didn't realize how much of a civil activist Billie Holiday was.


I didn't know how much of a civil rights activist she was. I think everybody in the Black community knows the song, Strange Fruit, but we don't really understand what it took to get that song out and how much the government tried to stop it. And that's what I learned. I thought it was a song that really spoke to what was happening at the time, but I didn't realize that it was this kind of war cry that would speak for the Black community in a way that we couldn't speak for ourselves.


Check out the full interview.