By Abigail Baldwin
Jahi Di’Allo Winston plays the lead of the upcoming, highly acclaimed film, Charm City Kings. Based on the documentary 12 O’Clock, the film follows Mouse (Winston), a young boy who wants nothing more than to be a part of the Midnight Clique, a tough group of Baltimore bike riders who rule the summertime streets. As he navigates the challenges of coming of age in a complicated world, he learns the hard way that the choices you make early on can change your life forever.
Charm City Kings had its world premiere on January 27 at Sundance Film Festival and will be making its way to SXSW in March. The film is set for nationwide release on April 17, 2020.
Right now, you can watch Winston in Everything Sucks on Netflix and 2019’s Queen & Slim, available on Prime Video.
360 Mag: What attracted you to the story of Charm City Kings?
JAHI: What attracted me to Charm City Kings was the environment in which the story took place. Having an opportunity to shed light on an entire community that’s consistently misinterpreted and misunderstood in the media was extremely appealing to me. That, as well as having the chance to be at the center of an entire universe sounded like a pretty cool first time experience…And it was!
360 Mag: In what ways do you relate to your character, Mouse?
JAHI: I would say that I related to Mouse’s ambition and relentlessness most. He has a fierce drive that causes him to overcompensate and get himself into trouble. I can definitely relate to that, having a similar drive that sometimes causes me to get ahead of myself.
360 Mag: When did you find out you’d be working with Meek Mill? How did you react?
JAHI: I can’t remember when I found out, but I do remember being intrigued by the idea that I was going to be able to be a part of Meek’s big acting debut. He’s amazing in this movie! I really think a lot of people are going to be impressed when they see him in it. You can really see his dedication to the work and how much he enjoys what he’s doing.
360 Mag: What was something you learned from your director Angel Manuel Soto?
JAHI: I learned so much from Angel. I feel like one of the biggest things I learned from him was how to maintain your vision and keep your cool in the midst of chaos. We were shooting in a very high-pressure environment and a lot of chaotic things were being thrown at us every day. Angel always maintained an optimistic attitude about it all. It was really inspiring to see. So that’s something that I definitely took away.
360 Mag: What excited you most about being at Sundance?
JAHI: The most exciting thing about being at Sundance was seeing our movie colored and complete in front of an audience for the first time. I think we all were sort of holding our breath because most of us hadn’t seen it and we were experiencing it all with the audience for the first time. For most of the audience members seemingly walking away being so moved by it was the best thing any of us could’ve asked for.
360 Mag: Who inspires you the most in the industry?
JAHI: I’m inspired by so many different people and entities. One that really stands out to me right now is Donald Glover (Childish Gambino). I really don’t get starstruck, but if I met him I’d probably be in awe. His work just means so much to me. From his screen work, to his music; his impact on my life and my work is just endless. I find so much commonality in everything that he does and says…He makes me feel seen. I could go on and on, but I won’t. He’s one of my inspirations, for sure.
360 Mag: Dream roll?
JAHI: My dream role is any role that I write for myself. I believe in making your own dreams come true.
360 Mag: Favorite fashion brands?
JAHI: I’m just a fan of fashion period! I like different things about many different designers. One that has really caught my eye right now is this one South African brand called RICH MNSI. They’re really contemporary and unique.
360 Mag: Can you tell us about your NAACP awards look?
JAHI: My NAACP awards look was a piece by a UK designer by the name of Kyle Ho. It was the first look that my stylist, Apuje Kalu, and I tried on. It was edgy and elegant. I’m not afraid to take risks with fashion as long as it’s something I like. We had a whole rack of clothes, but we didn’t even try any of the other ones on…We just knew it was THE ONE!
360 Mag: What are your interests outside of acting?
JAHI: Outside of acting, I’m most interested in being a leader, whatever that entails. I wanna be someone who pushes the culture forward, someone who does good work in marginalized communities across the world. Someone who challenges the world, rather than assimilating into it. That’s what I’m interested in…As I’m typing this, I realize you probably meant like, Baseball or something, and I just gave a long answer for no reason. Oh well…