IN CONVERSATION WITH CEYAIR WRIGHT
Ceyair J. Wright stars in the much anticipated new season of Freeform‘s hit show ‘Grown–ish’, which premiered its 5th season on 20 July. You may also recognize him from the Warner Bros. hit film ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy‘, which starred LeBron James. Ceyair was a top four-star cornerback recruit in his 2021 graduation class for football and he thrives on multi-tasking as he continues to challenge himself by acting and sports.
Ceyair, you star in the 5th season of Freeform’s hit series ‘Grown-ish’. What is the most special thing about this series for you?
I would say the most special thing is developing relationships with the cast, producers, directors, everyone involved and who is on set. In the beginning, you start off as strangers, but by the end everyone is like family. It’s an incredible experience. I hated having to see it end, but I’m looking forward to getting another season.
You play the role of Zeke, a contemporary all American football player who is super confident and comfortable in his own skin, but is extremely endearing. Besides being a football player yourself, in what ways are you and Zeke similar?
We were both new to college, so that was a fun experience to have in real time, along with making new friends. One cool similarity is during the first season. Zeke was joining a fraternity along with Junior. And I recently became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, founded in 1906, at USC. My chapter is the Alpha Delta Chapter. I have eleven-line brothers, including one of my football teammates. Can’t ask for a better experience in both atmospheres.
You starred in Warner Bros.’ Hit film ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ alongside LeBron James. How was the experience of sharing the screen and being on set with such a legend for you?
The experience was amazing. I could go on and on about everyone, from the director, Malcolm Lee, to production and the cast. Besides LeBron being an amazing basketball player, he is just a great person overall. We spent countless hours just talking about life and laughing. He really took me and CJ, the other son in the film, in as his own. Once he found out I was a competitive athlete, who had aspirations to play in college/pro, he instantly went in depth about preparation, physically, mentally and emotionally, in our conversations. In terms of acting on set, I think we all learned from each other. Being that this was LeBron’s first feature film, he had to work extremely hard at his craft of acting. Overall, the experience was life changing. I’m blessed to still be in contact with LeBron, CJ and some of the other cast members from the film.
The film includes also other top athletes, like Damien Lillard, Anthony Davis, Chris Paul, Diana Taurasi. What is the most valuable thing that you’ve learned from them as an athlete?
The work ethic they displayed on set, witnessing that firsthand, I see why they are successful in their profession. I saw Damien Lillard shoot 300 straight shots during a break we had and I was blown away. All the athletes who were on set worked out during their downtime. Sharing stories and just seeing how all the athletes were nice and genuine people, with all the success they have had, was just incredible and a memory I will never forget. I’m a big Lakers fan from when I was little, growing up here, so obviously it was awesome being around Anthony Davis as well.
You thrive on multi-tasking, as you continue to challenge yourself by acting and sports. What made you pursue acting in the first place?
It’s something my dad got me involved in. Actually one of our cousins recommended that we should give it a try. So we took pictures, studied the art, practiced and the rest is history. My dad said I always seemed passionate about acting, but he always asked me if I wanted to do it because he knew how much work goes into this, especially with auditions. For me, the entertainment industry started when I did print, then to national commercials and at some point I told my dad I wanted to audition for movies or TV shows and here we are.
You were a top four-star cornerback recruit in your 2021 graduation class for football and are now playing for the powerhouse school of USC, looking to start this next season as the 77th Best Player by 247 Sports. How does it feel and impact you to be recognized as such a successful athlete?
I’m extremely blessed and believe me, I don’t take it for granted. I can’t say I knew I would be here, but there has been a lot of work and preparation behind the scenes. I’m thankful for my family, coaches and trainers who have and continue to push me to be the best I can be. I’m excited in what I have accomplished. It’s a lot of work, but I’m even more excited in where I’m going.
Besides football, you were heavily recruited for your athleticism and talent in multiple sports. What made you choose football?
Honestly, I played every sport growing up, from lacrosse to football. I grew up in a football family, my dad and several other relatives played football professionally. In high school I played baseball and ran track, but I stopped playing baseball when I started getting college offers in football. My dad would always say “Your sport will eventually choose you”. That’s pretty much what happened and the best advice my dad gave me back then.
For ‘Space Jam’ you showed your skills also in basketball. How hard was it for you, especially to impress LeBron?
Besides them making jokes about my jump shoot form, I think I impressed them somewhat. I have tons of videos. But one thing I am very proud of is I beat Anthony Davis in a one-on-one game. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. He may say I’m lying, but who will you believe? Anthony Davis or me? Like I said, I had and amazing time.
You’re currently in production on ‘Time Tripper’, starring alongside Craig Robinson. What can you tell us about this project?
It’s a great project, a comedy. Unfortunately Covid killed production, so we are trying to get that moving again. Working alongside Craig was amazing. And there is also the talented Larray, who will bring some laughter to the project.
Juggling both acting and sports is not an easy task. Which of the two would you like to focus more on in the future? Where do you see your future career in?
My goal is to win the College Playoffs, Super Bowl and EGOT. I’m never going to limit myself. Currently my focus is football at USC. Our team is doing so well and I’m having an opportunity to contribute to the team success. I will continue to be the best I can be and give all I can. I’m blessed and grateful to be in the positions I’m in.
IMAGES: Mike Quain
INTERVIEW: Jana Letonja