Ashley Walters is a man wise beyond his years. Take a look at his CV and you will quickly understand why. At age 19 he became part of the UK Hip Hop group So Solid Crew and scored with the #1 single "21 seconds" (performing it in front of 70,000 people) only to go to prison for gun possession one year later. Upon release he starred with rapper 50 Cent in the movie "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" and most recently has taken on the lead role of "Top Boy", a street crime drama set right here in Hackney that many call "The Wire" of London.
And he's only 31 years old.
Ashley is the very first actor ever on London Real and if I was expecting a scripted, image conscious performance I was sadly mistaken. A self-described introvert, Ashley walked me through the emotions he felt when he became a member of So Solid Crew and why that situation was ultimately untenable. "When I got caught with the gun I was out of control" he explained, "My paranoia had gone through the roof."
What I like most about Ashley is that he is a survivor, and his story is one of hope. Whether you're a Londoner or not, black or white, rich or poor, old or young, there is something about his life that will resonate with your human experience.
And that is what London Real is ultimately all about.