Wonder what it would be like to have your life transformed overnight? Meet actor Diamond Lyons.
Going from everyday teen to starring alongside Wanda Sykes, Mike Epps, and Kim Fields, may sound like something out of a TV show, but that’s the life Lyons has quickly grown used to since he was cast in Netflix’s popular sitcom The Upshaws.
Now, Lyons, who plays Epps's TV son, Kelvin, on the multi-camera comedy about a Black working-class family juggling the highs and lows of everyday life in Indiana, splits his time between filming in Los Angeles and studying through online Houston high school Texas Connections Academy. (The best part? "I don’t have to wake up or finish at a certain time of day," he tells Houstonia).
And he might be doing it for a while. The show—his first major credit following a debut in locally produced 5th Ward and the DJ Screw project, All Screwed Up—was recently renewed for its second season after reaching No. 1 on Netflix’s trending list.
We chatted with Lyons about his Houston acting roots, the crazy way he learned he’d been cast in The Upshaws, and his advice for other young actors.
How’d you get to where you are now? Have you always been drawn to acting or performing?
Doing YouTube was actually what I wanted to do before I got into acting, and I also just grew up always entertaining a bunch of people around my dad’s barbershop. I was always entertaining, dancing, and talking to them. Somebody came in one day and noticed, and they were like, “Hey, I want your son to be in this play [at Midtown’s Matchbox Theater]. It’s called Child Support, and I think he’ll really be good for it because he’s so charismatic.” I had no idea about this, but my dad was like, “Sure, go ahead.”
I didn’t have that many lines in the play, but I memorized them really quickly and started asking for more. I went from being in a scene and a half to being in the entire play. This lady who worked with Tyler Perry had shown up at one of the shows and said she wanted me to be in this show called 5th Ward because she had really liked me in the play. At the time, I still didn’t know what was going on, I was just going with the flow.
Walk me through how it felt finding out you were cast on The Upshaws.
It was mainly a shock for me—Netflix is a huge network—but it was also because of the way I found out. That day I had gotten in trouble at school, and I wound up getting called home early. We went out to eat later that day and my parents were like, “We’re going to have to homeschool you because you keep getting into trouble … but also because you got the part for The Upshaws,” and I saw that my dad was recording. I was so excited.
What are you most excited for in Season 2 of The Upshaws?
I'm mainly excited to get back to the people I was working with. At first, I didn’t realize I would become so attached, but once Season 1 ended, and I finished my last scene, I ended up crying. It was so emotional, and I started thinking about how I had really built a connection with everyone there. It felt like a real family outside of the show, so I'm really excited to get back to it.
On top of acting, are there other passions you want to pursue?
I still want to do YouTube. I also wanted to do boxing for a little bit. It’s my favorite sport; I would say, the best sport of all time. I would love to be in a Marvel movie, so some boxing skills could help me with that.
What piece of advice you would give to young, aspiring actors?
For one, you have to make sure your heart is really in it. Acting is something that you have to take seriously, and, before you get into it, you have to know that it does make you grow up a little bit faster. There's also going to be a lot of “nos” before you get a “yes,” and once that yes comes, you need to go with it. Also, super important: don’t stop. A lot of people are going to have something to say, people are going to critique. Make sure you take their critiques and grow from that.
Watch Season 1 of The Upshaws on Netflix