Shaking up the industry in a major way award winning actor Ashton Sanders reveals all in fashionable spread for The Guardian.
“Talk about an emotional rollercoaster, man.” Ashton Sanders is taking a well-deserved break during a year that has transformed him from an unknown 21-year-old to the star of an Oscar-winning movie. He’s perched on a sofa in a studio on the west side of Chicago, where he is filming his next project, kitted out in an all-black ensemble complete with leather jacket and movie-star shades that he keeps on throughout our interview. His words are interspersed with coughing, symptomatic of an exhausting schedule.
He has barely had time to register the effect of his powerful performance in Barry Jenkins’ much-lauded best picture winner Moonlight, a soulful triptych tale that examines three key periods in the life of Chiron, a black gay man in Miami struggling with his sexuality, played by three actors of varying ages. In the middle section, Sanders portrays Chiron’s teenage years with understated power, winning him the sorts of plaudits for which most established actors wait years. In the New Yorker, Hilton Als wrote that his performance was “like seeing Montgomery Clift act for the first time”.
It was Sanders’ first major role (his previous credits consist of well-received yet little-seen western The Retrieval and a tiny part in Straight Outta Compton), and six weeks after the film’s Academy glory, he remains in shock. As do the rest of the industry, still reeling after the staggering mishap that saw hot favourite La La Land incorrectly named the night’s big winner before Moonlight was rightfully crowned. “I think we were all really stunned in that moment,” Sanders says. “This type of stuff just doesn’t happen. It’s never happened before, so it was definitely 0 to 100 really fast.”
This is part of what made filming Moonlight a difficult experience for Sanders. “It was definitely hard,” he says. “I had a close family member relapse months prior to filming Moonlight, so Naomie Harris’s portrayal [of Chiron’s mother Paula] was so familiar. I remember doing the scenes where I’m being bullied and it felt so real. Even after we cut, I felt so uncomfortable in my skin. I would get back to my hotel room and sit on the balcony smoking cigs, crying, writing poetry.”
Growing up in LA, Sanders says he was aware of racism but not directly affected by it. Since he has been travelling for work, this has changed. On a recent flight, a particularly disrespectful flight attendant “belittled” him in front of fellow passengers (“I remember sitting down and wanting to cry”) and he has found himself in a number of uneasy situations in the midwest, where he is filming in Chicago.
To read more of the interview visit HERE and view the entire fashion spread below.
Polo shirt and raincoat, both versace.com. Jacket, j-w-anderson.com. Trousers, by Martine Rose, from matchesfashion.com. Sneakers, giuseppezanottidesign.com.
Jacket, trousers and sneakers, stellamccartney.com. Top, off—white.com.
Blazer, shirt and trousers, haiderackermann.com. Shoes, paulsmith.com.
Image Source: Dylan Coulter for the Guardian