Welcome to SZN Opener, the dynamic podcast series that celebrates Black college athletes, exploring their triumphs, challenges and aspirations along their sports journeys.

In this episode of SZN Opener, host and noted sports analyst Monica McNutt welcomes Ceyair Wright to the studio. Wright is a rising senior at the University of Southern California who is doing his thing both onscreen and on the football field. The multi-hyphenate talent joins SZN Opener to discuss what it’s like to juggle acting gigs and Division I football.

Wright chose to stay close to Hollywood

Managing his time between acting and football is nothing new to the Los Angeles native. “I love both. I’ve been passionate about both my entire life,” Wright tells McNutt. “My dad played football, so that was what introduced me to that, and acting is something I’ve always loved to do.”

Wright’s acting credits include playing Zeke in Grown-ish and Darius James in Space Jam: A New Legacy alongside LA Lakers superstar LeBron James.

The actor-athlete was intentional about his decision to play with the USC Trojans. With over two dozen offers to play college football on the table, Wright chose to attend USC to stay close to Hollywood.

“That was a part of the reason I stayed in California and went to USC, because of the ability to do both at the same time,” Wright says. “A lot of the schools, like in the South, were like, ‘You’re from the West Coast, you’re not going to be serious about playing football.’”

The 21-year-old cornerback sees the value in doing both. “My experience as an athlete has taught me determination, discipline and team building, things like that,” he says. “As an actor, what helped me is the memorization. I can learn a playbook really fast.”

His parents supported him every step of the way

Wright has been able to do it all with the support of his parents. His father, Claudius Wright, played cornerback at the University of Arizona and then in the NFL Europe League.

“Whether it’s football or acting or singing, whatever it is, he’ll back me 100 percent,” says Wright. “I definitely credit a lot of the things that I’ve been able to do to the support that I’ve received from him and my mom as well.”

No matter what Ceyair wanted to get into, hard work was a must. “Whether it’s football or the entertainment industry, to rise up in it, you have to work hard,” he says. “Especially with football. There’s no luck. You have to work hard.”

Wright also shares what it was like to act alongside LeBron, his dream acting role, and his love for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Catch the full conversation with Ceyair Wright above. Listen to this episode of SZN Opener on the Urban One podcasts platform or your favorite streaming app.