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Everybody loves Tyrel Jackson Williams in IFC’s baseball-based ‘Brockmire’

The former ‘Lab Rats’ star talks Earth, Wind & Fire, extreme juggling and Tumblr

Tyrel Jackson Williams is transitioning from Lab Rats in abrupt fashion. From 2012 to 2016, he starred on the Disney XD series as Leo Dooley, and he is now currently playing Charles, the laid-back social media genius on IFC’s Brockmire. The new show stars Hank Azaria as legendary (and fictional) baseball commentator Jim Brockmire. It’s IFC’s most highly rated show and cable’s most time-shifted comedy, so of course it’s already been renewed for a second season. Williams, 20, is also the younger brother of Everybody Hates Chris star Tyler James Williams, but he long ago stepped out of his brother’s acting shadow. Tyrel Williams talked about the differences between acting in a show for kids and a show that is definitely for mature audiences — as well as about being starstruck at an Earth, Wind & Fire concert, and his love of superheroes.

When did you realize you were famous?

The first time it happened when I was at the mall. I was just chilling with my family one Saturday. This little girl was whispering to her mom from far away and pointing. I was like, ‘What’s going on, this is weird.’ She ran over and she was like, ‘You’re on a Disney show, right?’ I was like, ‘What! Yes I am, I really am on a Disney show. I’m happy you’ve seen it.’ I was superweird about it; I didn’t know how to handle it all. I was like, ‘Wow, this is gonna start happening regularly for me.’ I was 15 … around six months after Lab Rats premiered.

Aside from age, what is the biggest difference between how Lab Rats and Brockmire fans engage with you?

There’s a lot less yelling. Usually with Lab Rats fans, everything gets really quiet for a while and then somebody screams. [With] Brockmire fans, people just walk up and are like, ‘You’re really good in Brockmire.’ And they know my name — which is something I’m not used to. I’m used to people just yelling, ‘Leo!’ at me.

“Have you seen extreme juggling?”

Have you ever been starstruck?

I’ve been starstruck meeting Elijah Wood, and Verdine White from Earth, Wind & Fire. My parents are huge fans, and I’m also a fan because I’ve heard the group my entire life. We went to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, and somehow we got to go backstage and meet Verdine. My parents were really cool about it, and I couldn’t move. Verdine is standing right in front of me, and this is real life and I’m not dreaming.

Was that the first concert you ever went to?

Yes, it was. It was an amazing first concert to go to. I was like 13 or 14.

Who’s the most famous person following you on social media?

Sarah Paulson follows me because Amanda Peet tweeted at her through my Twitter account. Amanda doesn’t have Twitter, and she doesn’t really know how it works. She got into a Twitter conversation with Sarah via my Twitter, and Sarah Paulson ended up following me.

What is your favorite social media outlet?

Tumblr — it feels like an everything social media outlet.

If you could be any athlete, dead or alive, who would you be?

Part of me wants to say Tiger Woods, just to avoid all of the controversy. That would be kind of cool for a few weeks.

Do you like any unconventional sports?

Have you seen extreme juggling? You get to knock other people over and knock the pins out of their hands, but you have to juggle the whole time. It is the funniest thing I have ever seen in my life.

How do you find out about new music?

Twitter’s helping out a lot. I follow Complex, Fader and a bunch of those news outlets and magazines. They’re usually on top of drops. Apple Music is really good about featuring new artists.

“How do you manage to sink 3s effortlessly? It makes no sense.”

What was the last book you read?

The last book that I read all the way through was Watchmen. That has one of the craziest stories I’ve ever read. Props to Alan Moore. Right now I’m reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy [by Douglas Adams]. I watched the movie, and a bunch of people were telling me the movie sucks compared to the book. I started reading the book and I was like, this is way better.

Who is your favorite athlete currently playing?

I’d have to go with Steph Curry. How do you manage to sink 3s effortlessly? It makes no sense.

Who is your favorite superhero?

Deadpool. He’s awesome, he’s powerful and just crazy. He’s hilarious, and constantly breaks the fourth wall and is aware of the fact he is in comics and movies. He’s a character like I’ve never really seen before.

What is one bad habit that you have that you wish you could shake?

I tend to procrastinate. I work better under a deadline. I’m just gonna wait until a day or two days before and prepare for it, and I never do — and I end up panicking.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Work hard, and never settle. Work as hard as you can as often as you can. … You should always be striving to be the best you possibly can.

Stephen Knox is a freelance writer who has been published on ESPNW, Bleacher Report, Vice Sports, SBNation, NBA.com and NCAA.com. He is a Midwesterner living in the South and determined to never live through sub-zero temperatures again.