Some people are actors. Others are singers, dancers, or choreographers. And then there’s another kind of person, someone whose talent overflows in absolutely everything they do. In show business, they call it a triple threat. But Zaire Adams—an actor, singer, and dancer poised to rise to the top of each field—can’t be confined by such petty standards. He’s an overwhelmingly talented performer who, at just 22 years old, has already hit career heights others only dream of.
The young star started training for a career in theater. He got his start in Broadway’s “The Lion King” playing Young Simba and other theatrical roles before deciding to take the leap into TV and film, and later, into recording his first EP. His first big movie, the 2022 Rebel Wilson comedy Senior Year, came out the same week he started filming on “Freeridge,” the hilarious, sardonic follow-up to “On My Block.”
Zaire Adams is just getting started.
The show—which, like its predecessor, follows a group of LA teens trying to survive high school—is an upbeat YA-focused continuation of “On My Block’s” hard-edged and hilarious world, and Adams is a huge part of bringing it to life. I mean, in what other show does a queer kid have his own slickly-produced advice podcast complete with a theme song that absolutely slaps?
After “Freeridge” wrapped up filming, Adams went straight into shooting his first music video for his debut single “Back to Lonely,” from his forthcoming EP. The song is a deep, melancholy hymn to romantic loss, and Adams’ love of modern R&B luminaries like SZA and Frank Ocean comes through in his mournful, angelic vocals for the track.
“Music is such a personal journey,” Adams told Backstage Features this year. “It’s overwhelming to release it, but I’m at that point where I’m…excited to release it.”
The fact that he’s producing an EP while juggling film and TV roles isn’t surprising: Adams isn’t just talented, but incredibly persistent when it comes to achieving his goals. Before booking “Freeridge,” he’d auditioned for “On My Block” six times before landing the iconic role of Andre on the spinoff. And once he did book it, he put everything he had into it.
“I gave him so many just little tidbits that were native to him, because I’m a little bit more reserved than Andre and he’s so larger than life,” Adams told INTO earlier this year. “I was like,” I’m just gonna go out there and just give it give him everything.”
Andre, the sometimes-catty but always-wholesome boyfriend of classic avoidant bisexual Cameron, has become a fan highlight of the show, especially when it comes to Dre’s podcast theme song, which allowed Adams to bring his vocal talents to “Freeridge.”
“He’s just trying to be the best friend he possibly can,” Adams said of his character. “He wants everyone to heal from their trauma and learn from the past and just be great people. But he has a mean streak. So when you turn on him, you’ll feel that fire, that burn.”
What’s next for Adams? Ideally big screen stardom. “I am a huge X-Men fan,” Adams told interviewers last year, “so if I ever had the chance to play an X-Men character or a mutant of any sort, I would go berserk.” Playing Spyke, a high school freshman who can arm his body with spikes, would be a dream come true for Adams.
And that’s what we want when we see him onscreen: for all his dreams to come true. As a Black queer creative manifesting success in every part of his multi-faceted career, Adams is showing future performers just how possible it is to become the icon you needed to see in the world as a kid.