Bryshere Y. Gray, also known by the stage name Yazz The Greatest or simply Yazz, is probably best known by his character “Hakeem Lyon” on the hit show, Empire with Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard. Hakeem is the spoiled son of a millionaire music mogul who seems to get in trouble when he doesn’t get his way. Besides he and his character Hakeem’s love for music, that’s where the similarities end. Gray grew up far from the privileged, wealthy family lifestyle he portrays on TV.

Born in Germantown and raised in West Philadelphia, Gray recently and opened up to a group of high school students, “I was homeless, and I’m on the biggest show in the world now. I’m living proof that you all can do whatever you all want to do.”

Even though he wrote his first song at age nine, he really got interested in rapping at age 16. “I was working at Pizza Hut,” Gray explains to “I was just tired. I was like ‘Is this life?’ I just graduated and I started rhyming and really fell in love with it. When I did my first performance, I was like ‘This is what I really want to do.’ People loved what I did on stage. I used my first Pizza Hut check to pay for my music video and I promoted it everywhere on Facebook at crazy hours. (Laughs) I was writing raps at my job and I got fired. After I got fired, I just really committed to it,” he admitted.

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