The actor was just 21 when the Oscar-winning film induced him a superstar. He talks about dealing here bullies and racism, and why inferno never become too Hollywood

Talk about an emotional rollercoaster, humankind. Ashton Sanders is taking a well-deserved shatter during a year that has transformed him from an unknown 21 -year-old to the superstar of an Oscar-winning movie. Hes perched on a sofa in a studio on the west side of Chicago, where he is filming his next programme, kitted out in an all-black ensemble complete with leather coat and movie-star tints that he keeps on throughout our interview. His terms are interspersed with coughing, symptomatic of an exhausting schedule.

He has hardly had time to register the effect of his powerful performance in Barry Jenkins much-lauded best painting winner Moonlight, a soulful triptych narration that analyzes three key intervals in the life of Chiron, a black gay humankind in Miami struggling with his sexuality, played by three performers of varying ages. In the middle part, Sanders portrays Chirons teenage years with understated power, winning him the kinds of plaudits for which most established performers wait times. In the New Yorker, Hilton Als wrote that his performance was like ensure 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 movies Academy glory, he remains in surprise. As do the rest of service industries, still reeling after the staggering accident that realized hot favourite La La Land incorrectly named the nighttimes big winner before Moonlight was rightfully crowned. I think we were all really stunned in that minute, Sanders says. This type of material simply doesnt happen. Its never happened before, so it was definitely 0 to 100 really fast.

Jacket, trousers and sneakers, Top, off— Photograph: Dylan Coulter for the Guardian

But the Moonlight win would have been momentous regardless of the shambolic behavior in which it happened. Not simply is it the most wonderful painting winner to have an all-black cast, its the first to revolve around a lesbian protagonist, as well as being the lowest budgeted film ever to take home the big prize. Its dope that people are respecting real run and narratives of people in real-life situations, Sanders says. It was a honour, yo.

Sanders was born in Inglewood, Los Angeles, and grown up within an all-black Baptist church, raised by a fashion designer parent while his mother, fight with drug addiction, was not always on the scene. His father became aware early on of Sanders desire to act and at persons under the age of 12 he was recruited at Amazing Grace, an acting programme that also launched the career of Golden Globe-nominated Insecure superstar and co-creator Issa Rae. They simply instilled me with this love and fervour, Sanders says. My papa would be watching me and the working day he was like, You necessity an agent. Hes always been various kinds of like my manager. The environment solace from the brutality he suffered at school. Sanders interest in the arts over sports and his skinny physique induced him easy prey for bullies. The incongruity being, of course, that it is exactly these characteristics that have since induced him a superstar. Its really crazy looked at my bullies or whoever was trying to torment me or razz me, because karma is only, like, crazy, he says. I think its cool to be different. Thats what cool is.

Blazer, shirt and trousers, Shoes, Photograph: Dylan Coulter for the Guardian

In Moonlight, Chiron, whose mom is a drug addict, is routinely picked on for being different and ultimately suffers a brutal assault. Sanders was the first actor to audition for the various roles and the movies writer/ director Jenkins was instantly struck with the amply lived-in depth he added to the character. Once the pair got to know each other, Jenkins discovered just how much Sanders could relate to Chiron.

This is part of what induced 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 Harriss portrayal[ of Chirons mom Paula] was so familiar. I recollect doing the scenes where Im being bullied and it felt so real. Even after we cut, I felt so uncomfortable in my scalp. I would get back to my inn chamber and sit on the balcony smoking cigs, hollering, writing poetry.

Like Jenkins, whose mom was also an addict, Sanders realized the shoot as therapy a behavior to work through and perhaps glisten farther light on a situation with which he is still coming to words. Things do still linger, he says. I cant let it be at the forefront of my intellect, but its something I think about sometimes.

Though straight, Sanders could also relate to gay adolescent Chirons awkward fit within his community. Anything thats outside the standard of the average black male is looked down upon, he says. For me, I wasnt raised playing sports. I was artistic, so that was looked down upon by people in my church and I was pestered for that growing up in school, so it runs both styles. Its not only outwardly in white America, its within the communities, too.

Growing up in LA, Sanders says he was aware of racism but not directly affected by it. Since he has been travelling for run, this has changed. On a recent flight, a particularly disrespectful flight attendant belittled him in front of fellow passengers( I recollect sitting down and wanting to cry) and “hes having” seen himself in a number of uneasy situations in the midwest, where he is filming in Chicago.

Thats something we just go through as black humen in America, he says. The reality that we have to be used to that, its ridiculous. People will literally say that theyre not racist or prejudiced within themselves, but actions speak louder than terms. I have incidents almost every single period here, simply strolling down the streets or going into high-end stores.

Top, off— Photograph: Dylan Coulter for the Guardian

He pauses and then, sounding softly enraged, he goes on: America isnt induced for the black humankind. Patently, we are living in a progressive civilization, my generation, were paving styles and calling out bullshit, but I feel theres an old American mindset thats simply impose restrictions on people. The reality that I go on a teach and I sit next to a white woman and shes gripping her purse, or Im in an elevator and can feel the tension of a white couple look at this place each other because Im a black man and I walked in. Not that theyre impression frightened, but theyre uncomfortable. I dont know what the fuck it is. Its just weird.

Its a problem Sanders feels has been exacerbated by President Trumps victory. The reality that he won simply uncovered how America imagines, because there was no way that humankind should be included in office, he says. I feel like him winning was a direct slap in the face to everything America stood for or is trying to be.

Yet he remains optimistic about the future. He is encouraged by the success not only of Moonlight but of other recent movies with black contributes, from Hidden Figures to Get Out. I feel like there are a lot of stereotypical portions out there for black humen, but I think were living in a day when barricades are being broken and its going to be such a pivotal, progressive day for art, he says. Were living in a really dope day for black cinema. Im just happy to be a part of it.

He is currently filming Captive State, a post-apocalyptic alien thriller, with John Goodman( Its the total opposite of Moonlight ), and enthuses over where he plans to take his career next: hes started designing clothes and told me that he might start a band. His schedule is so full that he had to turn down a part in a new Denzel Washington thriller. I was so bummed, he says. But Im sure that I will work with him at some degree in my career.

We meet just days after Moonlight nabs yet more nominations, this time at the MTV movie and Tv awardings, including one for best kiss, shared between Sanders and his co-star Jharrel Jerome. Its crazy, he says, beaming. I developed to desire Jharrel as family and vice versa, so we were able to give ourselves to one another, because we cared. By the time we kill that scene, it wasnt like not normal. It was like, I love you and we trusted each other.

Jacket and trousers, Roll-neck, Photograph: Dylan Coulter for the Guardian. Grooming: Maggie Kerr for Exclusive Artists utilizing MAC Cosmetics.

Despite the river of awardings and red carpet appearances, Sanders remains ambivalent about the celebrity lifestyle. Hollywood isnt for me, he says. Even doing this red carpet material, its simply not real, its all a facade. Im an artist, I love to act, I love to create, I love to do the run. Thats the reason I do this, theres nothing else. So all of the social hallucinations are definitely bullshit to me. I watch right through it. You have to know yourself before coming into this, and thankfully I knew myself before any of this started happening.

Today, his entourage for our interview and manner shoot contained in simply one member a female pal from school, who says she is more than happy to warn him where reference is becoming too Hollywood( My pals set me in check, yo) and, despite the indoor sunglasses, he is polite, involving and seems in awe of the situation in which he detects himself. But hes aware that things will change. He is already noticing the difference between the low-budget intimacy of Moonlight and Captive State, directed by Rupert Wyatt, whose last hit was Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes( although Moonlights $ 1.5 m budget was, Sanders says, big to me !). He is also moving in different circles( he lately met Tom Hanks, whom he refers to as my boy, and is heading to the Met Gala next month with decorator and new pal Raf Simons ). Besides, it is essential tricky to remain wholly down to earth when youre featured alongside your Moonlight co-stars in a new campaign for Calvin Klein, your face and torso gracing billboards across the country( Dude, its nuts, he says, excitedly ).

Still technically living at home where reference is not working( he ensure me hes got his eye on a place of his own once hes back in LA ), Sanders has acknowledged that he has a lot to learn , not only about service industries but about life. Im still an adolescent nearly, he says. Im still working on myself every day, but I desire myself. I desire my weird quirks and I desire being different.

And if the bullies could see him now? Well, shit, humankind, he says looking around at a photoshoot being prepared just for him. And with that, a smile spreads across his face.

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