Bryshere Gray Talks New Edition Film & Will Smith

Since Empire hit the air in 2015, Bryshere Gray’s career has absolutely exploded. The 22-year-old Philly native has just two acting credits to his name—the first, the hottest primetime drama on network TV; and the second, a starring role in BET’s highly anticipated miniseries about one of the greatest R&B groups of all time. To say that Gray is blessed is an understatement.

“It’s such a blessed situation, I don’t want to mess it up at all,” he told JET on the set of BET’s upcoming miniseries on New Edition. In it, Gray plays Mike Bivins, founding NE member and the man responsible for introducing Boys II Men to the mainstream. It was a role of a lifetime, but Gray didn’t let it go to his head.

“I appreciate all of the blessings. I haven’t really had the time, because I haven’t been off in three years since I started Empire, to just sit back and take it in. But I appreciate every moment. I just want every moment to count, and I just want to work hard.”

While Gray has certainly been putting in work these past three years, his career has gotten a boost from a pair of powerhouse mentors.

“This is my first movie, and Empire was my first acting role. So, [Will Smith and Jamie Foxx] told me that to embody characters you want to play, you have to take that initiative to really get to know them. For Muhammad Ali, it took Will a year to get it down pat. For this, it only took me three months because that’s all I had.”

The veteran actors’ advice will certainly carry Gray throughout his career, but he can thank another man, his manager Charlie Mack, for introducing him to Foxx and Smith in the first place.

“Charlie Mack walked Will Smith onto The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and [helped] Jamie Foxx with his show, and he got me on Empire,” Gray explained. “Will walked with me every step of the way from the beginning. I went to his house in New York before the first episode and he’s just been holding me down every step of the way.”

With friends like Smith and Foxx, Gray’s future is looking super bright.