TJ Wright Turns a Frown Upside Down in ‘The Hate U Give’

TJ Wright plays Sekani in the new film The Hate U Give. Wright’s character helps bring humor and comic relief to the main character’s sadness. Wright talks with ATM about his role and life outside of acting.

ATM: Express how it is working around so many adult actors while at a young age.

TJ: They made it a lot of fun, so I was not like the only kid. They made it very inclusive. This was really fun for me.

ATM: Explain more about your role in this film.

TJ: My character is the young brother in the family. He supports comic relief in the film. My character helps his sister in her moments of sadness.

ATM: What is it like working as a young actor through your eyesight?

TJ: It is good for me to start at this age to see if this is what I want to do as an adult. I want to do this as an adult from my experiences so far.

ATM: Describe your whereabouts during the audition decision making.

TJ: I got the script when I was about to leave at the end of the summer. I was about to leave for a trip. We taped in Miami. I flew to New York for recreational purposes. I flew to Philadelphia to see my family. I received a call back while in Philadelphia. I flew to Atlanta from Philadelphia and then I went back to Philadelphia after this.

ATM: How did you feel about the script and story-line?

TJ: I felt the script was really powerful and touching. I knew I was going to click to the character the first time reading, and I did. This was really helpful.

ATM: Why did you feel you were already going to click with the character?

TJ: Some of it was funny. Everything about his lines and the way he acted in terms of the little things that tell you what to do. Some of it was funny. It just helped me think of how Sekani would act if he was a real person.

ATM: Are you normally a person that provides comic relief to people? 

TJ: I definitely provide comic relief. Sometimes when people are sad, I say, “no,” stop,” “no.” I am like, “there is your comic relief.

ATM: Talk more about your aspirations about swimming.

TJ: I used to be on the swim team for UM. I started to get more focused on my acting career. I am out of it a little bit. I am a very good swimmer. I am about to tell you my catchphrase. “Breaststroke is my best stroke.”

ATM & TJ: (Laughs).

ATM: What do you like to draw?

TJ: I like to draw portraits of humans. Sometimes I will do abstract and doodles of animals. Mostly I do people.

ATM: When did you first start drawing?

TJ: I started drawing when I was about 2 or 3. Honestly, every 2 or 3-year-old starts scribbling. I got the click of stick people at 3. This was a really helpful boost to my drawing.

ATM: Describe an early drawing of yours.

TJ: I did a drawing of a one-eyed human at the age of 6 or 7. This is one of my first drawings on my Instagram. The hair was out in terms of it blowing into the wind. It was really cool.

ATM: Why do you enjoy photography?

TJ: I really like aesthetic stuff. I am really good at making collages and polaroid pictures are everything.

ATM: Who are the photographers that you admire?

TJ: My mom and grandfather. We have like a little family tradition.

ATM: What do you like taking pictures of? Nature? People?

TJ: My grandpa is mostly about jazz photography. My mom does a lot of pictures of people, sunsets, and sometimes abstract pictures of grass. Sometimes I ask, “What is that?” I do a lot of pictures of people when they are not looking.

ATM: So candid photos?

TJ: Yes.

The film The Hate U Give is an adaptation from author Angie Thomas’ book titled the same as the movie. The main character loses her childhood best friend to police brutality and is left to cope with the sadness. Wright’s character Sekani provides comic relief to help the main character through this difficult time. The Hate U Give Now In Theatres.