Tom Hanks' Son Chet Hanks Is 2 Years Sober and 'Wouldn't Trade It for Anything'

Chet Hanks is the 27-year-old son of Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson

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.

The Fox drama about a hip-hop dynasty struck a particular chord with the 27-year-old son of Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson.

“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.”

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.

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.”

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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A darker part of his history is his battle with substance abuse. In 2015, Chet revealed he had entered rehab for a cocaine addiction.

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.

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