'When They See Us' Breakout Asante Blackk Really Wants to Star in a 'Training Day' Remake

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Asante Blackk capped his 2019 with an appearance on the Norman Lear-Jimmy Kimmel ABC special 'Live in Front of a Studio Audience.'

With two Critics' Choice nominations, the 18-year-old actor — currently co-starring on 'This Is Us' — reflects on his whirlwind year and the most surprising thing he's learned about awards season.

At he beginning of 2019, Asante Blackk was a 17-year-old high school student at North Point High School in Waldorf, Maryland, without a single TV or film credit to his name. Just one year later, he starts 2020 with two Critics' Choice Awards nominations (following up an Emmy nomination in the fall) for his performance as Central Park Five member Kevin Richardson in Netflix's When They See Us and as teenage father Malik in season four of the NBC hit This Is Us. Blackk is one of a mere three actors, alongside Laura Dern and Scarlett Johansson, nominated for multiple projects at the Jan. 12 ceremony at Santa Monica's Barker Hangar. He recently spoke with THR about his whirlwind year, new opportunities and Training Day dreams.

How has it been to play a part in a movement that shows the Central Park Five in a new light with When They See Us?

It's been surreal — just the fact that people are rallying behind this miniseries the way that they have been. Even months after it came out, people are still recognizing me because of it and calling me "Kevin" in the street. It's mind-blowing but also one of the greatest privileges in my life.

Are you still in touch with the Exonerated Five?

Definitely. I talk to Kevin all the time. He's truly like an uncle to me. We keep in touch as much as we can because we don't just want to see each other at certain events, so we really try to keep that bond close-knit.

When They See Us was your first major project. What type of opportunities or auditions has that opened up for you since?

The way that my career is unfolding is not even one in a million, it's one in a bajillion. To be a part of this project that so many people were exposed to, now people are sending me scripts saying they want me to star in their stories — not even asking me to audition, just saying, "Hey, we want you to star in this." It's nuts. I would have never imagined that I'd be in this position so early in my career. I'm just trying to keep the ball rolling.

Any dream projects?

I do have a dream role. I'm not too fond of remakes, but I would make an exception if I was able to remake Training Day and play Denzel [Washington]'s role, that would be absolutely amazing. I'd love to dive deep into that character because he made it so iconic, so I want a shot at that.

On This Is Us, you play a teenage single father, something not often portrayed on TV.

You have to show these stories because these stories do exist in the real world. Somebody might have seen a single teenage father in the street and given them a glare or judged them, but after seeing This Is Us, they might have a little more empathy.

After going through your first awards season, what has surprised you most?

I've learned that you really can never tell what will happen. I had no expectation that I'd be nominated for an Emmy this year whatsoever, and then with Critics' Choice, first of all, I didn't even know that the Critics' Choice nominations were coming out that day so it was a little bit of a shock, and even more of a shock to be double nominated — not just because of the fact that it's a double nomination but I literally just joined This Is Us, so it's absolutely insane. The season that I started in hasn't even finished yet! So it's super crazy, but you never really know what to expect.

How are you going to split your time between the This Is Us and When They See Us casts on Critics' Choice night?

I'm going to sit at the This Is Us table just because that's who I'm working with right now, but I'm definitely going to be chilling with When They See Us and everybody over there — they're a whole other family that I love to death.

Interview edited for length and clarity.

This story first appeared in the Jan. 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.