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Dee Jay Daniels Tumultuous Life after 'the Hughleys' Involved Beating Murder Charge & Getting Face Tattoos after Struggling to Land Roles

Edduin Carvajal
Jul 03, 2021
07:00 P.M.
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Former actor Dee Jay Daniels, who shot to stardom as Michael Hughley on “The Hughleys,” has had a very challenging life ever since the show ended.


In the late 90s, actor and comedian DL Hughley took over the entertainment scene with his sitcom “The Hughleys,” which chronicled the lives of a Black family moving from the inner city to suburban Los Angeles.

Although Hughley was the show's main star, his two on-screen children Sydney (Ashley Monique Clark) and Michael (Dee Jay Daniels) often stole the spotlight.

Dee Jay Daniels, DL Hughley, and Ashley Monique Clark in Los Angeles, California on July 16, 2001 | Photo: Getty Images



Daniels had some acting experience before booking his part on “The Hughleys.” For example, he appeared in a few episodes of LL Cool J and Maia Campbell’s comedy “In the House” in 1996.

He then had minor appearances in “Grace Under Fire” and “Family Matters” before being cast in “The Hughleys” in 1998. Daniels was one of the main characters in the show for four years and even was nominated for three Young Artist Awards.

Dee Jay Daniels at Twin Palms Restaurant in Pasadena, California, in 2002 | Photo: Getty Images


Unfortunately, Dee Jay Daniels struggled to stay busy in Hollywood when the show ended in 2002. By the time he was 19 years old, he had already disappeared from everyone’s radar.

In an interview with Vlad TV, Daniels shared some details of his life after the show, including why he got so many face tattoos and the legal problems that put him in jail for months.



Most actors would agree that their face is probably their most important asset and primary source of income, so most of them take excellent care of it. However, Daniels filled it with tattoos.

He started doing it when he was 19 as he considered his career as an actor was over. Daniels felt frustrated because he was not booking roles, and even his agents turned their backs on him.

According to Dee Jay Daniels, he was yet another victim of typecasting in Hollywood as he spent four years of his career as the kid in “The Hughleys” and couldn’t get any part as an adult.



Even though Daniels was done with acting, he was still a young man with a bright future ahead as he was even trying to make a name for himself in the rap industry. Unfortunately, his life took a turn for the worse in August 2011.

Daniels and some of his friends were at a bar in Stockton, California, when a fight broke out. As a result, 26-year-old JJ Lewis was killed, and Daniels and two of his friends were arrested. At the time, the former actor was 22 years old.

DL Hughley was very supportive of Daniels during his trial as he even served as a character witness


Despite Dee Jay Daniels’ involvement in the fight, he only learned about Lewis’ death when the authorities interrogated him. The whole time he thought they arrested the wrong person.

Eventually, Daniels was charged with premeditated murder, gang activity, and a few other crimes. Although he was pretty young and could have spent the rest of his life behind bars, he thought what was happening to him was “normal.” He explained:

“Growing up, a lot of my relatives went to jail. […] It was a family thing. That’s why my dad moved us out of Compton, to get me a better life.”

Dee Jay Daniels and DL Hughley during their interview with Vlad TV, posted on YouTube in February 2021 | Photo: YouTube/djvlad


DL Hughley was very supportive of Daniels during his trial as he even served as a character witness. However, Hughley’s prior involvement with the Bloods gang was an obstacle.

Since authorities were trying to prove that Daniels was also a member of that gang, they thought Hughley, a “Blood,” was just standing up for “another Blood.”


In December 2012, after a two-month trial, Daniels was found not guilty. The former actor said it was a bittersweet feeling because, although he was leaving prison, one of his friends, Marcus McCliman, was found guilty and sentenced to 12 years behind bars.

McCliman was the only one who took the stand and admitted to stabbing JJ Lewis, so it is fair to say that his testimony was crucial for Daniels’ not-guilty verdict. At the moment, Dee Jay Daniels lives a low-key life, and it is unclear if he would ever work as an actor again.


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