Homewood eighth grader takes TV role in stride

Homewood has a 14-year-old television star.
  Lyric Ross, a James Hart 
  student, is starring in 
  the NBC-TV show 
  “This Is Us.”
The reality of that sinks in for Lyric Ross, an eighth grader at James Hart School, when people recognize her on the street as the character Deja on the NBC-TV hit show “This Is Us.”
In her role, Lyric plays a pre-teen who is placed in foster care with the Pearson family. Over five episodes she shares secrets about her mother’s drug problems, experiences in foster homes and the stresses she faces.
Lyric’s mom, Brandi Smith, said Lyric has done a great job in her role. She is very convincing as her character and fans have come to care about her. They stop and share comments about her leaving the foster home. 

“She’s been getting a lot of love,” Smith said. “They really buy into her character, Deja.”
“I loved it. I loved it. It was so fun. It was like a different feeling. I can’t really describe it. I felt like loose. It’s what I’m doing. I like this,” Lyric said of this role.
She’s been in front of a camera since she was 5 doing commercials and other small roles. Her mom keeps her appointments, but she gets plenty of support from dad Stephen Ross and grandmother Margaret Smith of Homewood.
Recently, Lyric’s appeared on “Chicago Fire” as an extra and then as a girl having an asthma attack. She won the role of Deja through a national search.
Gray Talent Group, which represents her, got a call in summer about the search for a young girl for a role in “This Is Us.” As Deja, Lyric goes from a kid in a rough-and-tumble Newark neighborhood to a foster home in a suburban setting with a big house, cars and fine clothes.
To get that role, Gray Talent taped her presenting a monologue.

“It was a very emotional monologue. It was like a roller coaster. First she had to be tough and then she gets sad and then a tough girl again. It had a lot of transitions,” her mother recalls.
“Mess up too many times, they send you home,” Lyric added.
Weeks later she was called in for a second monologue taping. She prepared with a coach for the second try.  Then things went like a whirlwind.
Lyric and her mom were flown to Los Angeles for a screen test.
“I was so excited. This is my first time going to LA and I’ve been wanting to go there forever and it’s for work. It’s crazy!” she recalled.
They flew home only to hear two days later that Lyric was being called back to LA for another test. But there was a stipulation: The girl chosen for the role had to be willing to cut her long, silky tresses.
“Mom told me that as I was in the midst of getting my hair done!” Lyric said. 
In one episode, Lyric, as Deja, cuts her beautiful hair in anger because her foster mother, Beth, shared something she thought was private between them.
“This was the worst!” Lyric stressed.
The show is filmed on the Paramount Studios campus where Lyric had her own star’s trailer for the six weeks of filming. She had a teacher who helped her keep up with Hart school assignments sent by her classroom teachers.
She had a wonderful hairdresser and makeup artist, even though Lyric says the makeup part wasn’t fun.
A rack of clothes helped her transform from a poor girl to someone who had pretty clothes.
“I’d look in the mirror and I’m ‘This is Deja.’ It’s so fun,” she said.
Smith said the studio hasn’t given any indication that Lyric will be appearing again in “This Is Us,” but her work has drawn attention to her acting skills. “Bingeworthy” reviewers called Lyric’s performance in the last episode the “performance of the week.”
You can next see Lyric in the movie “Canal Street” coming out Feb. 1. She is Tameka, the daughter of character A.J. Canton. 

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