Ashton Sanders Native Son, News, Bio, Age, Gay, Movies and TV Shows

Ashton Sanders Biography

Ashton Sanders (Ashton Durrand Sanders) is an American actor. Sanders is best known for his portrayal of Teen Chiron in the Academy Award-winning film Moonlight in 2016. He is also known for the role he plays in the American action thriller film The Equalizer 2.

Ashton Sanders Photo

Ashton Sanders Age

Ashton Sanders was born on October 24, 1995, in Carson, California, United States. He is 23 years old as of 2018.

Ashton Sanders Height

Sanders is 1.8 m tall.

Ashton Sanders

Sanders was born in Carson, California, US. He attended Grand Arts High School in Downtown Los Angeles, from where he graduated in 2013. He was studying towards a BFA at The Theatre School at DePaul University, before dropping out in 2016 to focus on his acting career.

Ashton Sanders Gay

Although Sanders has not revealed if he is gay or straight in real life, there are many resemblances between his onscreen character and his life outside the camera.

For instance, like that of Chiron, Ashton was also bullied as a kid.

Sanders, who had a crack-addicted mother in the movie, also endured the drug addiction problem of his biological mother. However, he never had to go through the addiction as he was rescued by Amazing Grace Conservatory, a welfare program for black kids at the young age of 12.

In Moonlight, Ashton’s character Chiron starts having more problem with his sexuality once he reaches high school and his feelings for childhood crush-best friend resurfaces. Chiron further develops a special bond (not sexual) to a Cuban drug dealer, Juan (played by Mahershala Ali), who is a fatherly figure to him. Mahershala, who has a recorded net worth of $8 Million, is married to wife, Amatus Sami-Karim.

However, unlike the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar, Ashton has never been linked to dating and has never mentioned about having a girlfriend or a wife. Further, the exact amount of his net worth is also not disclosed, however, as Ashton has played in some successful movies in the past years; he has possibly garnered a seven-figure net worth.

Moreover, Ashton revealed in a 2017 interview with Teen Vogue that not everyone was free to surpass the boundary restricted by the society; possibly hinting that some people were still hiding in the closet.

Could Ashton be one of those guys struggling to make their sexuality public? His absent dating life hints towards the direction, but the truth is yet to be known. And even though, Ashton’s kiss to his co-star Jharrel Jerome got nominated in the MTV Awards, no romantic link has been established between the co-actors until now.

Ashton Sanders Career

Sanders made his first move in acting when he appeared in the American drama film The Retrieval, directed by Chris Eska in 2013. The film had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 11, 2013. It was released in a limited release on April 2, 2014, by Variance Films.

In 2015, Sanders had a small role in Straight Outta Compton, and in 2016, he appeared in an episode of Refinery29’s web series The Skinny.

In 2016, Sanders also appeared in the drama film Moonlight, directed by Barry Jenkins. The film had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on September 2, 2016, and began a limited release on October 21, 2016, by A24. Moonlight received massive critical acclaim as well as dozens of accolades, including the Golden Globe Award for Best Picture – Drama. The film also won three Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali. Sanders’ role in the film was praised by critics; Benjamin Lee of The Guardian called his performance “powerful”.

He co-starred in The Equalizer 2, a sequel to the hit action film The Equalizer, opposite  Denzel Washington. In December 2016, he was cast in Rupert Wyatt’s forthcoming film Captive State, opposite Vera Farmiga and John Goodman.

Ashton Sanders TV Show

The Skinny

Ashton Sanders Movies

Making Possibilities
The Retrieval
Straight Outta Compton
Teen Chiron
We Home
The Last Virgin in LA
The Equalizer 2
Miles Whittaker
Native Son
Bigger Thomas
Captive State
All Day and a Night

Ashton Sanders, KiKi Layne, Nick Robinson Talk ‘Native Son’ | Sundance 2019

Ashton Sanders News

Native Son review – Ashton Sanders dominates darkly compelling adaptation

Arriving like a thunderstorm over this year’s Sundance film festival, the artist Rashid Johnson’s darkly compelling contemporary update of Native Son is a hard-boiled conversation starter. It’s a fiery, flawed, often stunningly made film that provokes uncomfortable discussion, rather like the Richard Wright novel it was based on, although purists might argue over some key changes. Its difficult nature might explain why, as the festival began, the indie mini-studio A24 sold the rights to HBO films, who also picked up the sexual abuse drama The Tale from last year’s Sundance – another film deemed to be too tough of a sell for many cinemagoers.

Its route straight to the small screen is something of a loss since Johnson, in his film-making debut and working with the acclaimed cinematographer Matthew Libatique, has crafted a visually confident and distinctive film that carries a singular aesthetic which, despite his background in conceptual art, remains unfussy and avoids feeling over-stylised. Together with the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, they’ve taken Wright’s controversial 1940 text and placed it in present-day Chicago. It’s the story of Big (played by Ashton Sanders, best known for avoiding being called Little in Moonlight), a young black man buckling under the weight of the expectations and assumptions of those around him. He’s filled with ideas and ambition, determined not to fall into a path of criminality despite being urged to do otherwise by friends.

He’s offered employment by a rich white family as their driver, a job that comes with considerable perks and leads Big to spend time with their wayward daughter, Mary (Margaret Qualley). Desperate to show Big how woke she is, Mary tries to integrate him into her life with tragic, horrifying results.

As the film’s noirish, punk-inspired antihero, Sanders dominates the film, populating every scene and tasked with maneuvering Big through challenging territory, whether it be facing regular, galling micro-aggressions or dealing with the fallout from the film’s central act of brutality. He contorts his slender physicality into a commanding swagger and while some might find his work a tad too mannered, I found him transfixing. As he spends time around Mary and her champagne-socialist boyfriend, he’s constantly aware of how he must perform in order to keep his job, even if performing requires simply not reacting to their many ill-informed attempts to identify with him. “Aren’t you outraged?” Mary says at one point, unaware that outrage isn’t something Big is allowed to express.

It’s the film’s middle section after Big gets the job, that truly flies, an acutely observed chain of events tied together by a prickly uneasiness that becomes almost overwhelming, a foreboding cloud threatening to explode at any minute. Mary’s a beguiling, dangerous symbol of white privilege and as Big spends more time around her, even those who aren’t familiar with the source text will know something terrible is about to happen. When it does, it punches a hole right through the screen. There were groans and a few walkouts here at Sundance but Johnson avoids grisly exploitation, knowing that the sheer mechanics of the plot will prove shocking enough. By the final act, though, some of the air has been sucked out. There are substantive changes to Big’s journey on the page that will probably cause ire among fans of the book and the last sequence, in particular, feels disjointed and declawed. As Big’s girlfriend, the If Beale Street Could Talk breakout star Kiki Layne is excellent but their relationship, which later takes prominence, doesn’t captivate quite enough.

While as a feature debut, Native Son is an inarguable accomplishment, both thematically and visually, it also lacks some connectivity between dramatic events. Big’s family appear briefly and are then ignored until the ending while the family he works for are left a few scenes shot in the third act. But its flaws are easy to forgive as Johnson conjures up such an intoxicating atmosphere that both his imagery and Sanders’ spellbinding performance will haunt you regardless.

Native Son is showing at the Sundance film festival and will air on HBO later this year

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Ashton Sanders Instagram

Ashton Sanders Interview

Barry Jenkins: How you feelin’ man?

Ashton Sanders: This is not real, man. But it’s a blessing, you know? Everything is happening so fast. I’m just trying to take everything in.

BJ: What do you mean everything is happening so fast? The movie has been done for a whole year.

AS: I was kind of lost in playing Chiron, so it’s crazy to be outside of the character now. Every time I see the film, I have to watch it for what it is, like, “Yo, that’s not me.” It’s surreal. The reception of the film has been really cool. I dropped school to pursue my acting career.

BJ: You know I wasn’t happy with that.

AS: I know, I know.

BJ: I’m not unhappy with you, I’m unhappy with that choice. But I also respect you as a man to make your own decisions. School will always be there.

AS: I’m 21, and I was going to school for acting. I can still take acting classes—that is super essential. The door is so open for me, I would’ve been a fool to not take these opportunities. But that shit was hard man. It was a major life decision.

BJ: I will say, I think there are things you would definitely pick up in a conservatory that are useful. You have to find a way to learn those things in the process, on set. Even though you have proven you can do some really extraordinary things, you are still developing. The ceiling is much, much higher, and I think in a conservatory, you work towards that ceiling. Just always remember: You may be the shit, but you can be even more the shit.

AS: Thank you, I needed to hear that.

BJ: Alright, I want to get back to Moonlight. When you first got the script, what went through your head?

AS: This is going to sound cliché, but once I read the script, I knew I had this part. I immediately connected with it and wanted to be this character. I fell in love, Barry. I’ve fallen in love with everything I’ve read by Tarell McCraney—just his name on the front page was super rad to me—so I knew it was about to be the dopest read ever. l had even been in his work prior: I played Ooshi in The Brother Size. His dialogue is so relatable; the words just roll off my tongue. The script and the imagery are so beautiful; I was able to see the beach Chiron was sitting on. Also, the summer I received the script, my mom had a drug relapse, so I really needed to do something to get out.

BJ: I want to talk to you about that because I didn’t know about your mom relapsing until we were shooting that scene with Naomi Harris, who plays your mom in the film. You didn’t tell me.

AS: I know.

BJ: What was that experience like, for art to be imitating life?

AS: I didn’t think it was necessary to explain my process to you in creating this character. It just didn’t cross my mind. I didn’t want to be that dude, to bring people down. Plus, when I’m going through shit, I shut everything out and deal with it myself. I would go back to the hotel and cry and write poetry.

BJ: I’ve had that experience too, and that is why I did the movie. Everything you just said is why I saw myself in Chiron. So why did you decide to tell me when you told me on set?

AS: We were inside the trailer. I talked to Naomie [Harris] about it, too. It was kind of like that beach scene: you know it’s coming but you don’t think about it until you’re really there. Seeing Naomi in costume, knowing how this plot also resonated with you and how much of my soul I was about to give in those moments, I thought, “Alright Barry, I just want to let you know.”

That day was some of the most vulnerable acting I’ve ever done. There were people on set crying. It was so emotional. I remember you coming up to me and asking if I was all good. I just kept pushing. I read that Hollywood Reporter piece where you talked about how this project was therapy for you. It was therapy for me too. I feel like everything happens for a reason, and everyone involved in this project was involved for a reason. No one else could have played these parts.

BJ: Other people could have played these parts, but the characters would have been different. The place where we ended up is very unique because you all brought your true selves into the film. But let’s take a step a back—how did you get into acting? Take me as far back as you want, knowing that you are a young ass dude.

AS: Just like Chiron, I was bullied from elementary school to middle school. I felt like everyone had an outlet, whether it was playing basketball or whatever. I needed an escape, so in the summer of sixth grade, I started talking to my dad about acting classes. I had been watching TV and I thought I could do it. I was this crazy kid with a big imagination. So I enrolled in Amazing Grace Conservatory, which is Wendy Raquel Robinson’s acting program in Central Los Angeles. I initially started acting to escape my family situation and tap into other people’s lives. When I was on stage in character I wasn’t worried about anything. I was that character. So that’s how I approached the craft. I felt in love and was surrounded by so many like-minded artists. I was the weird kid growing up, and acting allowed me to be free, escape my reality and be surrounded by so much love.

BJ: Let me jump forward: When you booked The Retrieval how did that happen?

AS: Savage Agency scouted me at a play in high school in ninth grade. I was super pre-pubescent, but they saw something in me. The audition for The Retrieval was intense, even though it was super low budget. It was my first Hollywood movie, so I’m expecting everything “Hollywood,” but it wasn’t like that. I was in Texas filming for two months and they didn’t have trailers. It was the coldest winter in Texas, and I had to wear these slave clothes. In one scene, I’m walking in a frozen river and fall over, and the water freezes around my hand. I wasn’t expecting anything to happen with the film, but it got a little bit of support, so that was rad. I was fifteen when I shot it.

BJ: Your next credit was Straight Outta Compton. So what happened between those two?

AS: I was working on my craft, doing plays and auditioning, but I was auditioning for the wrong stuff, like Disney Channel, which clearly isn’t my vibe. The crazy part is that it took three years for The Retrieval to actually get distribution and go to theatres—until my freshmen year of college. So The Retrieval was coming out in theatres when I auditioned for Straight Outta Compton, which I booked that summer. The next summer, I auditioned for your project and had Compton playing in theaters.

BJ: It’s funny, I remember having no idea you were in Compton. We had already cast you and I remember watching it in the theatre like, “I think that’s Ashton.” Everyone was waiting for the credits. It was a small part, but you are the center of the frame for those two or three minutes. I was like, “This kid’s good.”

But [when you were auditioning] and we were casting [the character of] Kevin, at first we were trying to cast for chemistry. We brought in one Kevin who was not very good, and it made your performance bad. The first thing I said to you was, “You can’t let the person opposite you dictate the level you’re at.” But then you stood up and basically said, “I’m tired of this.” I respected you for that. I was telling a class at AFI (American Film Institute), that the experience did two things for me: One, I did realize that I was putting you through the ringer; two, it helped me solidify what to look for. It’s not about chemistry. Let me find the [series of actors playing] Chiron, who have the same feeling and the same soul, and get away from the chemistry.

What you, Alex Hibbert and Trevante Rhodes do in the film is interesting [playing Chiron at different ages]. The question I get most often is about the fact that you all never met each other. How does it feel to look at the screen and see somebody else basically playing you or your character?

AS: It was like a magic trick. We are all different variations of each other—all kind of the same person. When I met everyone for the first time in Toronto, it was like we’d known each other for years. These are literally my brothers. I’ve seen the film five times, and I notice something different about everybody’s performances each time. It’s amazing how everything matched up. It was so spot-on and perfect—great direction, great artists and a great script.

BJ: Let’s talk about another Moonlight actor: Mahershala Ali [who plays Juan, a drug dealer who helps raise Chiron as a child]. Is he a mentor to you?

AS: He’s so dope. He is mentoring me right now, and I respect him a lot. We talk about negotiating scripts because I’m super picky. He tells me there is no rush, that it is important for me to stay true to my artistry and myself. I needed to hear that. He’s a man who I want to be like. I’m about to be an uncle to his baby.

BJ: You don’t know this, but I sat behind you at that screening in Toronto. At the end of the story, one of you reached over to the other and grabbed him. You were so happy for each other. Mahershala has spent 20 years in the industry to get to a film like this. You’ve been in the industry for six months, so how does that feel?

AS: It’s a blessing to have relationships with artists like you and Naomie Harris, Andre Holland and Janelle Monaé. I remember us doing press in Toronto, and Lupita Nyong’o came up. I’m standing next to Mahershala and Lupita is right there, over my shoulder, and I didn’t say a word. Sometimes I feel like I just got lucky.

BJ: It wasn’t luck. You earned the part. And then what you did with it, that’s all up to you. There is always a series of events. When we were on set, did you ever think we’d be sitting at the Soho House having a conversation for a magazine feature?

AS: No, never man.

BJ: Whenever you have this feeling you have to really cherish and appreciate it. Because what we do, I don’t like to think of it as special. The acting you did was special. The result right now is becoming very fucking special. But what we did was not special; we were just working. It’s important to remember that.

AS: Totally man. That’s my biggest thing. I didn’t know what to expect from this project. I like creating art, and that is what it is. It is dope to have all of this for sure, but I’m an artist first.

BJ: I want an honest answer: When you read the Hilton Als piece in The New Yorker, what was that like?

AS: I felt like the man. Damn, me? Pinch me. It gave me chills. I was honored.

BJ: What does the future hold for Ashton Sanders?

AS: Hard work. Dedication. Knowing myself, continuously being myself and not conforming for other people. I want to have my hands in everything: acting, fashion, cinematography, directing. So I’m just building myself up right now. I’ve been having some conversations with God and following my intuition. I want to leave a mark on this world. I want to inspire.

BJ: One thing I will say to you as a mentor is to be more in love with the process and not the result. Leaving a mark is much less important than building yourself.

AS: That is what the future is: having my hands in everything, building myself up. Hopefully, the result will leave a mark. I already know that I’m going to put in the work. It’s the law of attraction. I’m a strong believer in that. I’ll be calling shit out so the universe will hear it. How Old Is Ashton Sander

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