In our Q&A series POPSUGAR Crush, we get to know some of our favorite celebs’ more intimate details – from their signature scent to their idea of a perfect date night. This month, we’re crushing on “Swagger” actor and singer Tristan Mack Wilds.
Tristan Mack Wilds has had quite the career. At 33 years old, the acclaimed actor and singer has checked plenty off his bucket list – from starring in notable TV shows, films, (including “The Wire,” “90210,” “Praise This“) and a Broadway play to releasing a Grammy-nominated album and working with Adele. He also stars in Apple TV+’s “Swagger,” which returned for its second season on June 23. We’d be here all day naming Wilds’s many achievements, though his greatest, by far, are his two daughters, Tristyn and Naima, with wife Christina Wilds. Still, after a nearly 20-year career, the Hollywood veteran says, “I still feel very young in the game.”
Wilds’s years-long journey in the entertainment industry isn’t without a few crazy stories, though. He’s been around long enough to live through some pretty interesting happenings – one of which involves the legendary Stevie Wonder and Jamie Foxx (because who doesn’t have a story about him?). Wilds’s memorable encounter with Foxx, he says, occurred at a Grammys afterparty around 2009/2010, when the former was just starting to pursue music. According to Wilds, all “the hugest who’s who you’ve ever seen” were at the event.
“Then he said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Stevie Wonder.’ And somebody escorts Stevie Wonder over – I didn’t even know he was there.”
“Later on in the night, Jamie Foxx sits down and he starts playing his piano. His assistant comes over to me and she says, ‘Hey, Jamie’s about to start inviting people up to sing, and he told me to come and ask you. Would you mind coming up and just do a song or something like that for the crowd?’ I was like, ‘Oh sh*t. Yeah, yeah, I would love to do that,'” Wilds remembers, adding that he settled on performing one of his dad’s favorite songs, Wonder’s “Ribbon in the Sky.” What Wilds didn’t anticipate next, though, was getting upstaged by Wonder himself.
“So Jamie’s at the keys, and he’s like, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I just want to say it’s been an amazing night, and I like to end my nights with music to let you guys know how I’m feeling,'” Wilds recalls. “‘I would love, love to introduce somebody who’s really amazing to this culture and does some amazing things. And I promise you, you guys will never forget tonight.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh snap. He’s gassing it up. I better be good.’ Then [Foxx] said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Stevie Wonder.’ And somebody escorts Stevie Wonder over – I didn’t even know he was there.”
After Wonder took the stage, Wilds says he and his dad were “sitting there gobsmacked the entire time.” “One, you invited Stevie Wonder here. Two, Stevie’s singing this song I was going to sing,” he adds. “It’s a wrap for me. So as his assistant comes over, she’s like, ‘So Jamie said you’re next. Are you cool with that?’ I said, ‘Actually, I think I have a cold.'”
Though Wilds admits he passed up the opportunity of a lifetime to follow after Wonder, he’s not missing out on any other life-changing moments. The actor-singer says “there’s a bunch” else he still wants to tackle. “I feel like even though we’re [nearly] 20 years in, I’m still young. I still feel like I got a lot to do,” Wilds notes. “I have yet to really lead something the way that I want to star in something; the way that I want to show that I have that leading presence. I think all of my greatest achievements as of yet have been ensemble based.”
“”I feel like even though we’re [nearly] 20 years in, I’m still young.”
A leading man role isn’t the only thing on Wilds’s checklist. He’s eyeing a few biopics, too. And for inquiring fans, yes, one of them includes portraying LL Cool J. “There are so many heroes of mine that I want to play or just kind of bring to life,” Wilds shares. “The Huey P. Newtons, the Stevie Wonders, the LL Cool Js, Quincy Jones. [I’m] waiting for that opportunity.”
Fans of Wilds’s music will be happy to know he’s still actively working on that, too. And by “that” we mean he’s penning songs. He intends to get back in the studio to record (hopefully soon). “I’m always writing music,” he elaborates. “I’m always in a place where I’m trying to get my ideas out and however it may come out – whether it’s a verse of something, a poem, a free write – I’m always trying to stay present and understand what’s going on. And the only way that I really know how to do that is by writing. So yeah, I think eventually I’m going to go sit down somewhere and work on some music and see what comes out.”
And as always, Wilds is still anchoring his podcast “Guys Next Door” with cohosts Mouse Jones and Ryan Fletcher. “With those two, we always got something cooking up.” Wilds teases that he has more up his sleeve as well, but fans will just have to wait to see what he does next.
Read ahead for the rest of Wilds’s POPSUGAR Crush interview and find out which other celebrity once left him floored.
What’s your signature scent?
It’s a mix. I won’t tell exactly what it is, but I use two. If it’s a calm day, I use a Chanel and I mix it with another oil that I found. Or, if I’m going out, there’s these two colognes that I’m not going to say the name of. One is from Le Labo – and it’s not the one that everybody uses, either. But I got these two colognes that I mix together, and yeah, it always sets the night off. Whenever I wear that one and I’m going out without my wife, [she’s] like, “Where are you going?” So yeah, that’s the one.
Which celebrity once left you starstruck or speechless?
Stevie Wonder, for sure. I remember the first time meeting him. I’m such a huge Stevie Wonder fan, even being a kid, just understanding the way that his mind works. Understanding his musicality, the way that he writes, how he writes, what he writes about. It’s always been an inspiration to me. Lauryn Hill, [too].
What’s your idea of a perfect date night with your wife?
I’m somebody who’s really into food and wine, and I love movies. So for me, if it’s my perfect date night, not her perfect date night, we go to a movie, go have a really dope dinner, and we go taste some wine.
What’s your favorite thing to cook?
What’s funny, I’m not a cook. I’m more of a baker. So my favorite thing to bake, and you can ask any of my friends, is like world-famous carrot cake. It’s like a whole ‘nother level.
What’s your comfort movie or TV show?
I have multiple of both, but I think “My Wife and Kids” as of late because there’s so much that goes in it that I’m like, “Man that’s so real. That’s my life.” I can watch “Dark Knight” almost any day of the week, too. Or, any other Batman films or even “Joker.”
When you’re not working, what is your favorite form of self-care?
The gym, for sure. That’s the one way I know how to do self-care. Another thing for me is just driving. I’m somebody who likes to drive around and just listen to music.
What’s your favorite song or album you’ve listened to recently?
Kaytranada and Aminé’s [“Kaytraminé”]. That was a really good album. Favorite song that I’ve recently listened to is “Breaking Point” by Leon Thomas.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
One of my favorite quotes from somebody, it’s a Teddy Roosevelt quote. He says, “Speak softly and carry a big stick – you’ll go far.” And it makes so much sense in the world if you are mindful of the things and the people and the places around you. If you aren’t being abrasive or aggressive with everybody, but you understand how to protect yourself at all times, you’ll be good.