At 12, Lonnie Chavis, actor and activist is the star of This Is Us. This year, he comes back with The Waterman, a movie presented at the Toronto Film Festival. Lonnie’s performance is just like his nature, thought-of, true, and touching. We’ve sat down to talk about his foundation “Fix Your Heart America”, his viral open letter about racism in Hollywood, and the time he high-fived Lady Gaga.

Congrats on the movie Lonnie. This year was a big one for you, did you still find time for yourself?

Of course! My mum makes sure I have the time to do what I love to do – skateboarding, video games, watching movies…

Like a normal kid.

Yeah, Normal kid stuff.

Following Sunny Daze last year, The Waterman is your second lead role on the big screen, how has the experience been different from anything that you’ve done before?

Wow. We were on an actual adventure, Actually in the woods. I got chased by real horses, they weren’t fake. I got to see bugs, this whole experience was crazy. Everybody on this set treated me with kindness and allowed me to be a kid and a professional at the same time.

A lot of people know you from playing Young Randall on This Is Us. But you seem to be leaning towards cinema now. What do you prefer, Cinema or TV?

I like cinema more. Movies like The Waterman really challenge me. The director really made me become a better actor, helped me get into the right mindset.
I’d love to do more challenging movies, like a horror movie.

Like Gunner, the character you play in the movie, do you believe in magic? Do you think it is important to live in a world of fantasy?

Not necessarily. But if you look through this from my little brother’s perspective, then yes. He is 6.

I’ve seen your looks on the red carpet, I believe we owe them to Enrique Melendez, your stylist.

He is wonderful, he has the ability of Fashion.

Can you tell a bit about your views on fashion? What does it mean to you?

Expressing yourself through clothing is what I love to do. My style is really vintage-ish. That is exactly what Enrique, my stylist, help me do.

This summer you posted an open letter about your experience as an actor in Hollywood and the blatant racism you face, can you tell me more about this?

I wrote my letter after seeing the tragedy of George Floyd, I couldn’t just express, verbally, my feelings to my mom, I didn’t feel like talking about it that’s why I wrote this letter. My mom helped me a bit.

Do you see a change happening?

Right now, I don’t see a lot of changes happening. But as for every black person around the world, we’re all struggling right now, like we’ve been for a long time. People are starting to pay more attention to our voices.

2 years ago, you launched Fix Your Heart America which is an anti-bullying campaign. How did it start?

It started by me just looking at my comments one day. My mom usually deletes them before I can see them. I had made a video and I couldn’t understand the hate I received. People who don’t even know me were talking about my teeth gap, which I’m born with. I can’t fix my teeth but you could fix your heart.
This movement is about having the accountability to correct your own actions and be better to others.

Do you still look at the comments?

Yeah, sometimes when I’m bored. I mostly get positive feedback these days. But there’s always gonna be trollers.

Can you tell me what your biggest achievement to date is?

The waterman. It’s one of the best projects I’ve ever been involved in.

Tell me, I saw this photo that went viral on the web of you High-Fiving Lady Gaga.

Oh My God. That was so cool. I saw her on the red carpet, she just walked up to me and she said “I love what u do” and I was like “me?!? Out of everybody else, me?” And as I was just going on stage she just high-fived me and someone got the PERFECT picture that went all over the Internet.

That’s a great achievement! High-Fiving Lady Gaga!

That’s a GREAT achievement. I should have said that.

What’s next for you?

Maybe more This Is Us. Auditioning. More cinema.

And more fashion, please.

Yes, definitely more fashion.

Last question, what’s your definition of love?

Love really just means sacrifice to me.

Interview + Video: Elias Medini
Editor: Luca Imbimbo
Photographer: Ben Cope
Talent: Lonnie Chavis @Advantage PR
Styling: Enrique Melendez
Grooming: Renee Loiz at Exclusive Artists using Danessa Myricks Beauty
BRANDS: Asos Design, Borsalino, Cesar Arellanes, Christian Louboutin, Cirè, Collusion, Comme des Gaçons, Dark Shadow by Rick Owens, Dr Martens, Dsquared2, Givenchy, Herschel Supply x Keith Harong, Love Binetti, Louis Vuitton, Nicopanda, Phenomenon (Archive), Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello, Stamp’d, Thom Browne