The Top Boy star on making his directorial debut, becoming a grandfather and hiding his ballet skills from the boys in Peckham
London-born Ashley Walters, 38, first found fame under the moniker Asher D, a member of UK garage collective So Solid Crew. He’s now best known as an actor, with film and TV credits including Bullet Boy, Hustle, Small Island and Top Boy. He currently stars in Sky One action series Bulletproof and recently made his directorial debut with Sky Arts short film Boys.
Boys is about best friends on an east London estate. Was it inspired by teenage lads getting unfairly portrayed by the media?
Definitely. It stems from me going through that with So Solid back in the day. We were villains in the press for a long time. That’s not to say we didn’t deserve it at times. But what I’m trying to say with the film is that kids make mistakes. I know that now from being a father of eight kids. Teenagers aren’t fully grown. They’re not cooked yet, as Judge Judy puts it. They need guidance or they can easily go down the wrong road. A lot of the negative things they do are a cry for help. I mentor kids at my local youth club who are heavily involved in gang crime. If you show them a different way, you can change people. Not everyone in a hoodie is a bad guy.