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Earlier this week I sat down with Lakeith Stanfield. You might know him from the hit show Atlanta or the “Moonlight” music video where Jay-Z gathered the hottest actors in Hollywood to create a Black version of Friends. Lakeith was in New York City to promote his new film Crown Heights. It tells the story of Colin Warner, a teenage immigrant who is charged with murder in 1980.

Lakeith transformed into Colin to portray a man convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. Colin spends years in prison because he refuses to admit any guilt and his friend Carl King fights for the his freedom.

The film originally premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and Lakeith broke down when it got a standing ovation at the premiere. “I just was so happy that we could tell his story and that he could be there,” Lakeith said. “It was just a rush of emotions.” Shortly after Sundance, Amazon picked up the film for millions of dollars. During our sit down, Stanfield reveals how he picks roles and how Jay-Z called him personally to be in the “Moonlight” video. “I like it, the content and the direction he was going so I said yeah, I’ll definitely be part of this,” he said. “It’s also kinda hard to say no to Jay Z.”

You can watch how Lakeith’s career is on the rise in my interview with him above and be sure to check out Crown Heights when it hits select theaters on Friday.

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