This Is Us' Lonnie Chavis Pens Personal Essay on Being a Young Black Boy in Hollywood

This Is Us star Lonnie Chavis pleads for change in America when sharing his experiences as a young Black actor. Read his powerful words below.

By Mike Vulpo Jun 17, 2020 10:47 PMTags
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At 12 years old, Lonnie Chavis is determined to see America change.

As conversations about race continue to be held across the country in the wake of George Floyd's death, one young actor is sharing his experience as a young Black boy in Hollywood.

In a personal essay for People, the This Is Us star described events both on and off red carpets that not every child has to experience.

"I can recall the time when I realized there are not a lot of people that look like me on these Hollywood sets and asked my mom where all the Black people were. I also remember being invited to events but then being treated very poorly by security or entrance checkers, like I wasn't supposed to be there, until I had a publicist to announce me. I think of going to Hollywood events with other actors and actresses where I was constantly asked if I'm the boy from Black-ish or the boy from Stranger Things," Lonnie wrote. "I guess we all look alike since we are all Black. Can you imagine being confused for any other Black kid just because you all share the same profession? I can."

Lonnie also recalled a moment on set of an unidentified TV show where he became emotional after hearing some lines of a script.

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"I can recall a time on set when I started crying listening to an actor portray a racist grandmother toward my character. The director and writers told me that they didn't need me to cry for the scene. However, it was hard for me not to cry as I witnessed what I had just learned was my reality," he shared. "I wasn't acting, I was crying for me."

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Lonnie continued, "Can you imagine having to explain to a room full of white people why I couldn't hold back my real tears while experiencing the pain of racism? I can."

Ultimately, Lonnie says these experiences aren't reserved for Black kids in Hollywood. The This Is Us star claimed he was racially profiled at a restaurant in San Diego while visiting one of his young Black co-stars.

"Her Black cousins and I were accused by a young white girl working the cash register of trying to steal the few tips in her tip cup. It was a huge ordeal that almost led to police being called on us while we were with our parents—until some wonderful fan who happened to be white told them that I was a professional actor on two television series currently airing and argued that he doubted I would need to steal her few dollars," he shared. "My mother never played the ‘he's an actor' card. She definitely knew and argued that we were being targeted merely because we were a group of young Black children. Can you imagine someone thinking you are a thief just because of the color of your skin? I can."

In his essay, Lonnie also describes moments of his parents being pulled over by police in multiple cities and fearing for his family's safety.

Lonnie continues to use his platform to become an anti-bullying advocate with an IGTV show and hashtag around #FixYourHeart. He also is urging all of his fans and followers to be part of the change.

"If you don't understand what's going on in the world, then understand this: This is what the world looks like for me. A 12-year-old Black boy. This is my America," Lonnie proclaimed. "Policies need to change, laws need to change, the police need to change, Hollywood needs to change, hearts need to change, America needs to change. Change has got to happen for unarmed Black citizens to not live in fear of being murdered. Can you imagine being me in 2020 and wondering what the future holds? I can't."

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