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Faith & Fame: Rising actor-alum Wilson balances both worlds

Faith & Fame: Rising actor-alum Wilson balances both worlds

By L.A. Warren

Television-film actor and Jackson State University alum Aspen Wilson has had a steady stream of roles since graduating from the HBCU in 2017, and other major opportunities just keep coming his way.

He has appeared in a recurring role in Tyler Perry’s “Ruthless,” playing a character named Bell. The show itself is a spinoff of “The Oval” series and follows the character of Ruth Truesdale who tries to free her daughter and herself from a religious cult made up of sex-crazed fanatics. Beyond “Ruthless,” Wilson also has appeared in “Blood Country,” “Valor,” “Queen Sugar,” “Cloak and Dagger,” and many others.

There is, however, one notable film role that continues to have a profound effect on Wilson, who currently resides in Atlanta. “Bewildered” is about a famous jazz vocalist named Bishop Joseph Honoré (Keith David), who is stricken with dementia. As Joseph also combats depression and anxiety, Wilson’s character “Jason” portrays the bishop’s son.

“It’s truly a heartfelt film about family and how life’s unforeseen unfolds among them,” said Wilson, gripped by the extraordinary challenges faced by the sufferer and his caregivers. Soon, there will be a feature-length adaptation of “Bewildered,” which is currently in the works. For Wilson, the “Bewildered” role ideally speaks to his off-camera persona as a man of faith – one who cares deeply about others. In fact, he considers his spirituality to be directly linked to his accomplishments and isn’t bashful about crediting Christ, he said. “He’s done so many amazing things, and he’s truly the only reason I can do anything I’ve ever done.”

Because his success is “so blessed,” Wilson publicly urges people to hit him on Instagram (@aspenkennedy) “if anyone ever needs prayer.” It’s such an uncommon offer, in general, but even more so for a rising celebrity who’s unabashedly pious.

Wilson further explained his spirituality: “By nature, I’d like to believe that I was birthed with the heart that I have for a reason — to magnetize myself toward good things, people and places. As I know now, good things are godly things and with Him there is an abundance of all good things. So, the exercising of my faith over time has done great justice in my life thus far. Without it, I truly don’t know where I’d be.”

Interestingly, Wilson got into acting by happenstance when a fellow JSU student suggested that he enroll in a class called “Fundamentals of Acting.” Realizing he needed an elective in his sophomore year, he acquiesced. The course was taught by a working actor, Yohance Myles, who also has appeared in a number of small- and bigscreen roles.

Wilson, an only child, also credits his singleparent mother for supporting his ambitions. She guided him at age 5 when he did his first TV gig, which was a Kellogg commercial. “She allowed me to do what I was passionate about and breathed endless possibilities into my path.” In further describing himself, Wilson said, “there is a presence of depth to me that I’m still discovering. Aside from that, I’m a chill person. I love deeply, and I enjoy unique things and experiences.”

As he examines his acting career, he said he hasn’t fallen into the trap of being typecast. “I have my niche; however, I tend to find versatility in the outlets of roles that I’d actually like to portray.” And, he said, there are actors that he’d love to emulate.

He’s a strong admirer of Denzel Washington because of “his prominence, talent, versatility and leadership.” Also, he strongly admires the legacy of the late Chadwick Boseman. Wilson hailed the lead “Black Panther” star for his openness about his faith in Christ. “Aside from being a leading man, Chadwick truly was a vessel of demonstration for God, and it was very apparent.”

It’s a legacy that Wilson aims to mimic.

“I want to leave an impact of light, love and leadership. I want to always inspire others to become the best version of themselves – all the while point them toward the reason I can do that. And that’s through my faith in Jesus Christ. I want to shed His light upon the dark places and be a beacon of His demonstration. I trust God, and I’m thankful that I’m graced to be trusted by Him, too,” Wilson said.

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