Rufus Wade is a 1992 Norwalk High School graduate known for his basketball achievements.
Now his son, Tywan Wade, is making a name of his own on television with an upcoming guest-starring role on NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (aka “SVU”) at 9 p.m. Wednesday.
The American law/crime drama series describes its premise at the beginning of each episode.
“In the criminal justice system, sexually-based offenses are considered especially heinous,” according to the opening remarks. “In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit.”
In the series’ 10th episode of the 19th season, Tywan Wade will play a student named Taylor Jones.
“There are two twists in the episode,” Wade said in an exclusive interview with the Reflector. “I think the structure is unlike anything I’ve seen ‘SVU’ do in years and a crowd favorite does return. But I believe that’s all I’m allowed to say for now.”
He couldn’t elaborate on who the “crowd favorite” was.
Getting the role
This will be Wade’s first “SAG role,” or one on a major network. However, in September he debuted on an Investigation Discovery show called “Fatal Attraction,” based on the movie of the same name. Still, he said this was an experience of a lifetime.
“(“Fatal Attraction”) ended up premiering on TV … and I remember writing on Facebook that I hoped my next time on a show like that would be on ‘Law & Order: SVU,’” Wade said. “Who knew that a month later I would receive an email from their casting office requesting to see me in their office the next day. So I flew to New York and auditioned.”
The role Wade was trying out for, and eventually received, was for a character of any ethnicity or gender, and for someone who was 15 years old. Wade, who is 23, wasn’t counting on landing the role.
“So I was competing against what felt like all of New York … since it wasn’t specific,” he said. “I’d also never been on a professional set before as an actor, so the chances were slim. But I auditioned three times (and) after my callback, they emailed me and told I had gotten the role.
“It was my first time with an on-set trailer and meeting the cast of the show was amazing. It still feels like a dream in a lot of ways because how quickly it happened.”
‘It felt like a dream’
Wade shared the best parts of the experience.
“My favorite part was honestly just being on-set,” he said.
“Everyone was so nice and welcoming and it felt like a dream. And I will always remember this as my first job. I learned so much from how everyone acted on set and just the amount of kindness everyone exhibited, even though we were working for almost 14 hours straight. But I loved that. The work was everything and it just solidified that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
A ‘Titanic’ inspiration
The thought of having acting as a career wasn’t new to Wade though, who said it’s interested him since he was about 4 years old.
“I just remember sitting with my Aunt Jacke (who is also from Norwalk) at that age and watching ‘Titanic,’” he said.
“When Jack Dawson said, ‘I’m the king of the world,’ I knew that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I didn’t know what that meant or that he was acting, but I knew I wanted to do whatever Leonardo (DiCaprio’s) career was,” he said. “It was empowering.”
A bright future
The young actor plans to use the “SVU” guest-starring role as a stepping stone into the world behind cameras, but also as a learning experience.
“I’m still auditioning for some major projects,” Wade said.
“But I’m really focused on taking a step back and training. I start a course with Will Smith’s acting coach next month in LA and will be studying improv at The Second City in Chicago this upcoming Monday. But I feel like I have this huge opportunity in front of me at something so many people dream of and I don’t want to mess it up. So I’m just trying to take the right steps to make it more likely to happen.”