Photo by: Jen Garcia
We caught up with Tristen J. Winger who can currently be seen starring in CBS‘ new legal comedy series So Help Me Todd opposite Marcia Gay Harden and Skylar Astin. The series premiered on September 29, 2022 and follows a private detective offered a position as an in-house investigator at his mom’s law firm as a way to get his act together. 

Prior to So Help Me Todd, Tristen played Thug Yoda in the groundbreaking award winning series Insecure (2016-2021) from Issa Rae, and got his his first big break with the comedy web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl (2011-2013) opposite Issa Rae.

We asked Tristen about being a storyteller and his role in So Help Me Todd. Check out our conversation below.

When did you decide that storytelling was something you wanted to do?

Tristen J. Winger (TJW): I’ve always been a performer, from singing in talent shows at age 6 to terrible tap dancing, but I didn’t realize I could make a career out of performing until my mid twenties. I decided to pursue acting once I found success with Awkward Black Girl.

What can you tell us about So Help Me Todd and your character?

TJW: So Help Me Todd is a legal procedural about a mother (Margaret, an attorney played by Marcia Gay Harden) and son (Todd, an investigator played by Skylar Astin) who work together to solve cases. I play Lyle Burton, a know-it-all, silently judgmental investigator who regularly bumps heads with Todd and his unorthodox investigating methods. We’re a comedy disguised as a one-hour drama.

Is there a particular aspect that you like the most about playing Lyle?

TJW: I love Lyle’s dry humor. Scenes with him and Todd bring me joy because he gets to be so sarcastic and anti-Todd. Their banter is fun.

(L-R) Rosa Arredondo as Francy, Marcia Gay Harden as Margaret, Skylar Astin as Todd, and Tristen J. Winger as Lyle in episode 116 of So Help Me Todd. Photo by: Michael Courtney/CBS

What has been some of the best advice you have been given about acting and storytelling?

TJW: My favorite advice: be authentic. Authenticity will ensure that you always show up as yourself and it shows in your performance. The audience can certainly tell.

What is the best part about being a storyteller in your opinion?

TJW: Storytelling is communal. As an actor I get to share my personal experiences through my performance, and it’s received by an audience who can relate. Being able to relate is an audience is the best part because I’m not alone in my experiences.

When audiences watch So Help Me Todd, what are you hoping they get out of it?

TJW: I hope our audience receives that our show is about being seen, appreciated, and understood by our family and the people we love. That’s what I see in the relationships between the characters on this show. At the end of every episode the characters grow closer together because they’re recognizing themselves in one another.


So Help Me Todd airs Thursdays 9/8c on CBS

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