‘Dear White People’ Star Tyler James Williams Talks Afros and Chris Rock

Tyler James Williams Dear White People
Harold Daniels for Variety

He started by playing the young Chris Rock in “Everybody Hates Chris,” and Tyler James Williams is now earning laughs sprouting a giant Afro in the hit Sundance satire “Dear White People.” He’s also rumored to be among the new cast of “The Walking Dead,” premiering Oct. 12 on AMC, though he remains coy about details.

What appealed to you about “Dear White People”?

When it hit my desk, I thought, “This is something that can not only possibly define my career, but define a generation.”

I hear getting the Afro just right was an ongoing saga?

It was an ordeal. At one point, we tried a weave that I was supposed to keep in through production. At five o’clock one morning, I called and said, “Get this out of my hair or I’ll take it out myself!” They couldn’t get anyone there fast enough and I ended up pulling out a patch of hair from my scalp because I couldn’t take it anymore.

You started on “Everybody Hates Chris” so young; did you know Chris Rock’s act?

It was around the time he hosted the Oscars, and he was a big deal. But I didn’t yet know his standup. Though I was a huge fan of Eddie Murphy’s “Raw” and “Delirious” at that age. A lot of the stuff I did for “Chris” was stolen from Eddie.

What can you tell us about joining the cast of “The Walking Dead”?

I’m not sure what you’re talking about. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve just been in Atlanta for eight weeks visiting friends, who also happen to work on things here. Good times are being had!

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