Bryshere Y. Gray

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Bryshere Y. Gray
Bryshere Y. Gray (26362135321).jpg
Gray at 2016 PaleyFest
Bryshere Yazuan Gray

(1993-11-28) November 28, 1993 (age 26)
Other names
  • Yazz
  • Yazz the Greatest
  • Actor
  • Rapper
Known for

Bryshere Yazuan Gray (born November 28, 1993),[1][2] also known by the stage name Yazz The Greatest or simply Yazz,[3] is an American actor and rapper, best known for his role as Hakeem Lyon in the Fox primetime musical drama television series Empire. He is also known for his portrayal as Michael Bivins in the 2017 BET miniseries The New Edition Story.

Early life[edit]

Gray was born in Little Rock, Arkansas. His family moved to West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania due to his parents’ divorce.[2] Gray played football at Overbrook High School, but he switched to music after getting injured when he was 16 years old. He began to use his talent as a street performer to earn money and help his single mother afford their living expenses. His efforts eventually led to a partnership with manager Charlie Mack.


Gray at the BET 15th annual awards

Since 2013, Gray has performed at a variety of music festivals in the Philadelphia area, including Jay Z’s Made in America Festival, The Roots' Picnic Festival, and Power 99FM's Powerhouse concert.[4] He also has been the opening act for rappers such as Fabolous and 2 Chainz.[5] His debut single "Respect" was released in the same year.[6] In 2015, Gray began his first acting role as Hakeem Lyon on the Fox drama TV series Empire, with co-stars Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, and Jussie Smollett.[7] In March 2015, it was confirmed that both Smollett and Gray had been signed on with Columbia Records as solo acts.[8] In April 2016, Gray was cast alongside Elijah Kelley, Luke James, Algee Smith, Keith Powers and Woody McClain in the BET miniseries about R&B boy band, New Edition which debuted in January 2017. Gray signed on to portray co-founding member, Michael Bivins.[9] In April 2018 Gray co starred with Teyana Taylor in Honey: Rise Up and Dance as Tyrell.


Year Title Role Notes
2015–present Empire Hakeem Lyon Main cast
2016 Celebrity Name Game Himself
2017 The New Edition Story Michael Bivins Miniseries; main cast
2017 Lip Sync Battle Himself Episode: "Bryshere Gray vs. Rumer Willis"
2018 Honey: Rise Up and Dance Tyrell Direct to video
2019 Canal Street Kholi Styles



Title Year Peak chart positions Album

"Respect" 2013 non-album single
"No Apologies"
(featuring Jussie Smollett)
2015 123 44 Empire: Original Soundtrack from Season 1
"Drip Drop"
(featuring Serayah)
114 37
"You're So Beautiful"
(Jussie Smollett featuring Yazz)
47 18 10
"Chasing the Sky"
(Terrence Howard featuring Jussie Smollett and Yazz)
2016 24 Empire: Original Soundtrack Season 2 Volume 2
"Good People"
(Jussie Smollett featuring Yazz)

Awards and nominations[edit]

BET Awards[edit]

  • 2018: Best Actor: Empire (Nominated)

NAACP Image Awards[edit]

.Awards|2016]]: Outstanding New Artist (Nominated)

Teen Choice Awards[edit]


  1. ^ Eichel, Molly (December 3, 2014). "Bravo host Andy Cohen loved working with Eagle Boykin". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia Media Network. Retrieved October 28, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Meet Bryshere Gray, The Bad Boy Doing Better On 'Empire'". VIBE. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  3. ^ "Who Is Hakeem on 'Empire'? Bryshere Gray, aka Yazz the Greatest, Is Conquering TV & Music". Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  4. ^ "Empire State of Mind: Bryshere Gray Talks Hakeem And Working With Timbaland". HipHopDX. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  5. ^ "Who Plays Hakeem on Empire? 5 Things to Know About Bryshere Gray". Wetpaint. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Hammond, Evelyn (January 31, 2015). "'Empire' TV Series Cast Bryshere Gray And How He Crawled His Way Into The Phenomenal Fox Show Discussed". Franchise Herald. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  8. ^ Kennedy, Gerrick D. (March 11, 2015). "'Empire' aims to climb music charts as well as TV rankings". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 25, 2016.
  9. ^ "Bryshere Y. Gray Among Stars of BET's New Edition Project". ABC News. Associated Press. April 20, 2016. Archived from the original on April 21, 2016. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
  10. ^ "Empire Cast – Chart History (Billboard Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
  11. ^ "Empire Cast – Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
  12. ^ "Empire Cast – Chart History (Hot R&B Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 14, 2016.

External links[edit]