This Is Us star Lonnie Chavis penned a powerful essay about racism in America. The 12-year-old actor, who plays young Randall Pearson on the NBC drama, detailed his heartbreaking experiences with racism both on and off Hollywood sets in a lengthy piece that started out as a letter to his mother.
In the essay published by People, Chavis revealed that he didn't realize what being black meant for him until he was 7 years old. The child star said his parents introduced him to books and movies such as Amistad and Malcolm X, but he got his real education as a young actor in Hollywood.
Chavis recalled being "treated very poorly by security or entrance checkers" at Hollywood events -- where he noted that there were very few people of color -- and he was also constantly asked if he was the child actor from Black-ish or Stranger Things, as if all young Black actors look alike.
The young star also revealed that he once began to cry during a scene when a racist grandmother was cruel to his character. While he was told by producers he didn't have to cry during the scene, Chavis admitted that he began crying for himself because he could feel the real pain of racism.
In the essay, Chavis did not reveal if the scene he was referencing was from This Is Us, but his character did deal with a racist grandmother (played by Elizabeth Perkins) in the Season 2 episode "Still There." Chavis was only 9 at the time.