Everything You Need To Know About Abbott Elementary's Tyler James Williams

On "Everybody Hates Chris," he helped to tell the story of Chris Rock's wacky childhood. On "The Walking Dead" he was a zombie apocalypse survivor who met one of the most gruesome ends in TV (and we're still not over it). And now, as the pizza-hating substitute teacher on "Abbott Elementary," he delivers a mean side eye with impeccable style and humor.


By now you may have already become a superfan of the ABC workplace sitcom, "Abbott Elementary." The show takes place at an underfunded, public elementary school in Philadelphia. The brainchild of actor/writer Quinta Brunson, follows the teaching staff at the titular school in a mockumentary style, a la "The Office" (via IMDb). The show is packed with amazing comedic talent, from TV and film legend Sheryl Lee Ralph to breakout performer Janelle James. But one of the characters people are really loving is Gregory Eddie, played to perfection by Tyler James Williams. But who is Tyler James Williams? The 29-year-old actor is a lot of things, but we promise, one note isn't one of them.

Tyler James Williams wanted to move away from comedy

Tyler James Williams was born in Westchester County, NY and began his acting career at age 4 (via TV Guide). But it wasn't until he starred as the title character in the TV sitcom "Everybody Hates Chris" that it turned out, everybody loved Tyler. The show, which ran from 2005 to 2009, was based on the misadventures of Chris Rock's adolescent life. Rock, who narrated the show, hand picked Williams to play him. We would guess that Rock never regretted his choice.


Once "Everybody Hates Chris" wrapped, Williams had made a decision not to do another network comedy. During a recent interview on The Tamron Hall Show, Williams commented that "network comedy specifically had gotten very broad" which turned into "people fighting really hard to get a joke out," which is not the style of comedy he wished to do. Lucky for us, Quinta Brunson basically created this quality role for Williams. He's allowed to flex his comedic muscle in his own way. Not only is the show hilarious, it also helps to highlight the real life struggles of underfunded public schools.

He comes from musical parents

Of course, as a child actor, you are bound to show up on "Sesame Street" or in a Disney production. Williams is no exception, seeing as he is able to check both off the list. In 2012, the "Dear White People" actor starred in a Disney film, "Let It Shine." It was a cute little film about teenagers and celebrity crushes, but the big takeaway was Williams' musical talent! He plays a teenage rapper in the film and there is even a music video of him showcasing his skills with film co-star, Coco Jones. 


But what one might find most surprising, is the freestyle rap he pulled from nowhere, during a 2014 appearance on "Sway In The Morning." Fans were so impressed, they challenged him to do more. So Williams responded with a satirical mixtape, "Me, My Brother & a Mic", which has since been deleted from Soundcloud. Seeing as once upon a time, both Williams' mom and dad were back up vocalists for Luther Vandross and Patti LaBelle, he comes across his talent honestly (via Showbiz CheatSheet).

Tyler James Williams wants his work to have meaning

Williams has been in the business for a majority of his life and still finds navigating the maze a bit daunting. During Northwestern's For Members Only State of the Black Union, The Daily Northwestern reported that Williams is determined to spread good through his acting. He feels it's important to find a trusted community that will also serve as a support system.


In 2014, Williams starred in the Justin Simien satirical film "Dear White People." Williams plays Lionel Higgins, a Black college student who is also gay. When he accepted the role, he was conscious to stay away from playing the role of the stereotypical gay male. His goal was to give Lionel depth and complexities. "We don't have to automatically see and know he's gay just by his mannerisms. That's not everybody" (via HuffPost).

His integrity is also one of the many reasons he chose to play Gregory on "Abbott Elementary." During an appearance on "Ellen," Williams comments how he hopes to validate the Black male experience. "It's the reason why I became a part of this show." Unfortunately, the role of a Black male educator isn't something we get to see regularly on TV. Representation matters and hopefully seeing such a positive reflection will help to bring forth a new generation to take part in this admirable work.