CSI: Cyber’s Shad Moss on Stealing Scenes and Internet Backlash

CSI: Cyber
Jeff Riedel
CSI: Cyber


HE PLAYS Brody Nelson, a black-hat hacker turned FBI crime buster, on CSI: Cyber. “Because of his criminal background, Brody can catch guys no one else can,” says Moss, 28. “He’s like the jerk on the basketball team who never shows for practice but always wins the game. You don’t like him, but you need him.” Still, the kid’s past continues to haunt him: On this week’s episode, an arsonist is burning down homes by hacking into desk-top printers—using a code invented by Brody back when he was on the wrong side of the law. “Can my character truly be trusted?” says Moss. “We’ll be asking that question all season long.”

WHERE YOU’VE SEEN HIM Chances are you heard him first, as teen rap sensation Lil’ Bow Wow, whose debut album, Beware of Dog, went double platinum in 2001. Moss made his film debut the following year in the hit NBA-themed kid comedy Like Mike. He also appeared on two seasons of Entourage as stand-up comic Charlie Williams, who got fired from the TV pilot he created and starred in when he didn’t test well with the young CW audience. Ouch!

WHY WE LOVE HIM It’s not easy warming up to a crook who turns good just to avoid slammer time, but Moss plays his character with such brainiac bravado and frisky charm that resistance is futile. “Bow is a joy–on screen and off,” says costar Peter MacNicol (24, Ally McBeal), who plays Brody’s no-baloney boss, Simon Sifter. “I could never have predicted that he and I would end up spending so much time together on the set, but there we are–arms over each other’s shoulders and reduced to helpless tears of laughter. That’s pretty remarkable considering we’re 12 generations apart.”

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORTCSI: ­Cyber is a reminder that we can all get too carried away with the Internet,” says Moss, who recently caught hell from his fans when he revealed that he didn’t run his own Instagram account because of the demands of the series and fatherhood (he has a 3-year-old daughter, Shai). “People were furious because I was basically putting it out there that some things are more important than social media,” Moss says. “They take this stuff so seriously and, when they’re disappointed, they feel they can say anything to you. Too much connection can be a bad thing.” ­

CSI: Cyber, Wednesdays, 10/9c, CBS