Actor Tyree Brown

Portrait by Jay Dixon courtesy of JE Model/JE Talent

Portrait by Jay Dixon courtesy of JE Model/JE Talent

After wanting to be an actor all his life, 6-year-old Tyree Brown is about to get his first big break in the highly anticipated new NBC drama Parenthood. With the series premiering on March 2, we sat down with the Sacramento native to talk about his busy life in Elk Grove, having fun with his “pretend” parents and how he’s a changed man now that he’s turned the big 0-6. 

So, Parenthood. How did it come about?

I did an audition in San Francisco and then that’s how I got in Parenthood. My mommy and daddy jumped up and down. But I started acting when I was 3.

You did? How did you get started in acting?

Tyree Brown getting a big squeeze from Joy Bryant, who plays his mom on the new NBC series Parenthood. (Photo courtesy of JE Model/JE Talent)

Tyree Brown getting a big squeeze from Joy Bryant, who plays his mom on the new NBC series Parenthood. (Photo courtesy of JE Model/JE Talent)

My sister Mackenzie was bigger than me—she’s 10 and I’m 6—and she was an actor. She does modeling, too. And when I watched her do her modeling, it looked really fun. So my mom took pictures of me and sent them to JE [Talent, a San Francisco agency], and they liked me. I’ve done the Barn [Pottery Barn Kids]. I did a State Fair commercial—me and my sister. We had a pretend grandpa and grandma. We got to go on rides.

And now you’re going to be on TV. That’s really cool.

Yeah. I like Parenthood. I like my pretend dad and mom [played by Dax Shepard and Joy Bryant]. I like hugging Dax. [Based on the hit ’80s movie of the same name, the show chronicles the imperfect life of the Braverman family. Tyree plays Jabbar, the son of commitment phobe Crosby Braverman.]

Are they like your real mom and dad or different?

They’re different. Dax is white and Joy is brown. [Tyree’s mom, Renee, is white and his father, MacArthur, is black.]

What do you like about being on set at Parenthood?

The donuts. I like the glazed ones. And licorice. I liked one scene because I got to play Candy Land. Do you have Candy Land? It’s my first [favorite game]—I like being a person.

You’re in kindergarten. How do you memorize your lines?

[My mom and I] work on the lines at home. I do home schooling. I like home school. I like my mom teaching me and my dad teaching me. I like calling my mom Ms. Renee and [wearing] my jammies.

What’s the hardest word you’ve had to memorize so far?

“Intolerant.” It means that you’re sick. It was for a car scene—I’m in the scene with my dad and I’m intolerant to something [lactose].

That is a big word. But you’re a big boy now—you just turned 6. What’s going to be different about being 6 versus 5?

I’m going to stop whining. Sometimes I’m crazy—I get hyper. And I don’t [like to] eat vegetables, but I’m going to eat vegetables. And now I don’t need a car seat.

Speaking of car seats, do you drive or fly when you have to go down to L.A. to shoot Parenthood?

Drive. But I like flying. I like going on an airplane because I am really high up and I can look out the window and say, “Whoa, look at that!”

Do you like L.A.?

Yeah, cuz of Austin [his cousin, who lives there]. He’s a baby. He just turned 3. So he’s a baby, but he can go pee by himself.

You visit L.A. but you live in the Sacramento area. Where?

In Elk Grove. In a big house—we have an upstairs and a downstairs. My first best friend Evan lives next door. He’s really cool. I like his Wii games.

What else do you like to do for fun?

I like to go to Toys “R” Us. I do soccer. And I like boxing. I [also] like tackling. I’m a good tackler. So I want to play football. I want to learn football when I’m 21. I like swimming too. When I was 3, I learned how to ride my bike and I learned how to swim—without the floaties. When I was 5, there was a girl that was 6 and I beat her in swimming.

Wow. Back to acting, you’re on a TV show. Do you ever want to be in a movie?

Yeah, I want to be in an Iron Man movie. He can shoot [repulsor rays] and he can fly. But I have to be 16 because he looks very old.

I see. Do you think you’ll still want to act when you grow up or do something else?

I want to do something else when I grow up.

What do you want to do?

Be Iron Man! I have the costume. Or I want to be a doctor. I want to go to the hospital and help people.

That’s great. And finally, now that you’re a big Hollywood star, I have to ask: Do you have a girlfriend?

Yes. From preschool. Her name is Brayden. She’s in first grade now. Her hair is curly. It’s like my mommy’s hair—blonde—but curly. We like playing with blocks.