AceShowbiz - Young "This Is Us" star Lonnie Chavis struggled to hold back tears as he listened to a racist grandmother on the hit show, because it brought back awful memories from his real life.
The 12 year old, who plays Randall Pearce in the TV drama, recalls the show's director and writers trying to calm him down as he became emotional during the scene, admitting he had no way of explaining what was going on in his mind.
"I started crying listening to an actor portray a racist grandmother toward my character," he writes in a new essay for People magazine. "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. I wasn't acting, I was crying for me.
"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...?"
Lonnie also reveals he was racially profiled at a restaurant in San Diego, California, 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," he adds. "It was a huge ordeal that almost led to police being called on us while we were with our parents."
A white fan of the show came to the family's rescue and explained Lonnie was "a professional actor on two television series currently airing" and added he "doubted I would need to steal her few dollars."
"My mother never played the 'he's an actor' card," Chavis explains. "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 colour of your skin? I can."
The young star also opens up about the drama that went down on his 10th birthday in 2018 when his father was detained by police for a traffic ticket.
"After coming home late with my family from my birthday party, a Long Beach police officer twisted my dad's arm behind his back and pulled him from our doorstep with the door opened...," Lonnie recounts in the essay. "My mother ran to my room and told me with fear in her eyes to go into my little brother's room and stay away from the windows. She put my new baby brother in my arms and told me that no matter what I hear from our front yard to not come to the door."
"I held my baby brother and cried as I could hear my mother yelling outside of our home. I thought my parents were for sure going to die going up against the police. By the grace of God, they are both still with me, and that racially motivated harassment against my father was dismissed. Can you imagine holding on to your three little brothers while thinking that you are all going to be orphans? I can."
The actor concludes the essay by writing, "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?"