Trai Byers may play the only non-singing son in the Lyon family on Empire (2015current) but the 32-year-old can actually belt out a tune. While you won’t see his Empire character Andre signing, Trai hit the right notes in 2015 when he sang music icon Stevie Wonder’s 1980 song Lately at an Empire press event.
Trai is the eldest of six kids and his family moved around a lot due to his dad’s job in the US Airforce. From 1989 to 1991, the Byers family lived in the Philippines and even had to be evacuated in 1991 when volcano Mount Pinatubo erupted. His strict mom wanted him to set an example for his siblings and insisted that he study for at least two years at a tertiary institution. Trai loved learning so much that he spent 10 years studying – two years at a small college, three at the University Of Kansas, two at The American Musical And Dramatic Academy, and a final three at Yale University where he graduated in 2011 with a Masters in Fine Arts. He’s worked with Terrence Howard – who plays his Empire dad Lucious – before. Sort of. Trai was a background extra in the 2011 drama film Boycott – Terrence had one of the lead roles. Trai is good friends with Empire co-stars Jussie Smollett (Jamal) and Terrence. Says Trai, “Jussie and I would go out and audition for some of the same stuff. Jussie and I are pretty tight. I keep my distance a little bit for the craft though. It’s just a process.” Empire is also where Trai found his future wife. He and Grace Gealey (Anika) got engaged on 28 July 2015. Trai’s put his toned body to good use as a model. He signed with famed Wilhelmina Modelling Agency in September 2015.