A member of a Hollywood royalty who forged his own path as a rapper, Chet Hanks had no trouble slipping into a recurring role as Blake on Empire this season.
“Anyone who was born in some kind of shadow of success of their father or mother can share this journey of a growing process. Not by denying who you are, but by embracing who you are,” he tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, on stands Friday. “This is who I am, and I’m not running away from it.”
His dad’s best acting advice? “Show up on time, know your lines and be nice to everybody.”
Chet first made a name for himself under the pseudonym Chet Haze, parlaying a viral reimagining of Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow” while a student at Northwestern University into a real music career. His latest venture is a group called FTRZ with pal Drew Arthur, and they’re preparing to release their first single, “California Models.”
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And on Empire, he feels lucky to show off his acting and rapping chops.
“It’s kind of a role that I’ve always really wanted to play,” he explains. “I’m very comfortable recording and being in a studio, and I also have some performing experience as well. So that made it a lot more comfortable for me, having that as a part of my history.”
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Now two years sober, “I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” he says, “because all I did was subtract a few elements from my life, and just by subtracting a few simple things, so much has been added that I don’t even think about going back.”
- For more on Chet, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday
The most joyful addition is his 5-year-old daughter. Chet has been protective of her privacy ever since confirming that he’s a father in December 2016, but he credits his little girl with changing his life for the better.
“Fatherhood forces you to grow up really quickly,” he says. “It’s a beautiful process, and it’s a blessing to be able to grow yourself as you watch your kids grow.”
The season finale of Empire airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.