IN CONVERSATION WITH ASHTON SANDERS
Ashton Sanders is a refreshing talent in the industry, gaining prominence in 2016 for his role in the Academy Award-winning film ‘Moonlight’. Next, Ashton will be seen portraying the iconic Bobby Brown in the Whitney Houston biopic ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody, which will premiere on 23 December.
Ashton, your career gained recognition from critics tremendously with your role in the Academy Award-winning film ‘Moonlight’ in 2016. In your eyes, how did this role impact your career?
It impacted my career in every way possible. ‘Moonlight’ had such a positive reaction from the world, the culture and totally gave me the momentum and the appropriate push for my talent to be seen. A major moment in my life.
What peaked your interest in acting? Tell us more about the beginnings of your career. How did it all start?
I grew up in Los Angeles and started acting at the age of 11. I trained at Amazing Grace Conservatory doing theater and that is where I was able to hone in on my craft and develop myself as an artist. The space allowed me to become the person I am now and also gave me key fundamentals that I will always cherish.
This December we’ll be seeing you in the Whitney Houston biopic ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’, where you’ll be portraying the iconic Bobby Brown. What can you share with us about this biopic? What can the viewers expect from it?
I can say that this film allows us to take a look into the real life of Whitney Houston. Not just what was in front of us or what was in the media, but a look behind the curtain. The audience can expect something real and euphoric.
How was it for you to portray such an iconic figure in the life of one of the biggest musical icons of our time?
It was a cool exploration to navigate. I wanted to stay as true and authentic as I can possibly be, without playing a Bobby stereotype.
Why do you believe ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ will be successful and what makes this film really special?
I believe the film will be successful for two reasons. The first is that simply everybody loves Whitney Houston. Like you mentioned, she was ‘one of the biggest musical icons of our time’. I think people want and need closure or even another ‘Whitney’ experience and this film is a beautiful way to get that.
The second reason is because the film had the right team of people on it and we truly made something magical.
Ashton, you’re also the main star in Hulu’s ‘Wu-Tang: An American Saga’ about Wu-Tang Clan’s formation and path to fame in the 90s. The series has been renewed for a third and final season. What can the viewers expect from the final season?
I can say this last season will be bittersweet. People are going to love it because it’s a culmination of the group, and individual artists. Everybody wants to see Wu-Tang at the height of their careers and you will, along with everything in between. The good and the bad.
You’ve done quite some biographical projects in your career. What is the one biopic that has not been done before and you believe should be really made into a film?
I’m currently working on telling the story of Henry Johnson and the Harlem Hell fighters, a group of black soldiers who get sent to France by America to be on the front lines of the war at the time. They were expected to be human shields but came out of it heroes. It’s a story that gets swept under the rug time after time and I think honoring that story is going to be special.
Your dad is a fashion designer and you yourself are becoming a fashion icon, since stepping into the spotlight. Who would you describe as your absolute style icon?
I can’t say I have a style icon at this moment in my life. Though I did grow up taking inspiration from André 3000, Lenny Kravitz, The Beach Boys and others.
Currently I’d say I’m in a ‘Vampire’ aesthetic phase.
We’ve seen your fashion moments at the Met Gala and all the other events. Which moment would you describe as the most daring fashion moment for you?
I would say the last Met Gala (2022) was my favorite moment and favorite Met look thus far. I think that was the first time I felt like an extension of myself on the carpet at the Met. It was great.
After ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ comes out at the end of the year, what’s next for you in your career?
Stay tuned …
interview by JANA LETONJA
photography and creative direction JONNY MARLOW
styling OLIVER VAUGHN
grooming TAYLOUR CHANEL
set design WANENMACHER STUDIOS
lighting tech RAM GIBSON
producer and studio HYPERION LA
editor TIMI LETONJA