Nnamdi Asomugha is a triple threat with an 11-year NFL career, film credits and a notoriously private family that includes his stunning wife, actress Kerry Washington, and their two children. While he has several acting credits, Nnamdi’s breakout role is in Crown Heights, where he plays Carl ‘KC’ King who devoted his life to fighting for his friend Colin Warner’s freedom. 

The film, which Asomugha also produced, is based on a true story in which police pressured a child witness to identify Warner in a killing. Wrongfully, convicted in the 1982, Warner is sentenced to life in prison for murder, while King devotes his life to getting that conviction overturned. Warner was exonerated 19 years later. 

At a swanky suite in D.C.’s downtown Ritz-Carlton hotel, Asomugha had just taken in the solar eclipse, sans sunglasses, before sitting down with ESSENCE to talk about flipping the switch from All-Pro NFL player to thespian and producer. With such compelling projects under his belt, including three 2017 Sundance Film Festival films in which he has production credits, and an appearance in Friday Night Lights, we asked how seamless his transition into a creative world has been.

“It definitely wasn’t seamless,” Asomugha said. “I learn best in the fire. I don’t learn as well, I think, in like a structured way. I kind of have to be thrown into it.”

“As far as producing, I was thrown into it on a film called Beasts of No Nation when we were in Ghana three months after I retired. Those weeks that we spent in Ghana shooting the film, I learned maybe more than I could have learned about producing (than) if I had gone to school for it. I left that shoot and thought that this is something that I want to do for the rest of my life, and I know the ins and outs of it.”

Asomugha went on to suggest that even without former training he is dedicated to his second career. He immediately jumped into his craft to begin training and immersing himself into the acting world.

“As far as acting, I just went in and just started training,” he said. “It was the first thing I did right when I retired. I just went in and found class, and found people, found the right coaches that could sort of just train me along. I didn’t have the luxury of going to the four year school for acting.”

“But my training really came just in life, and those other things that I pull on as an actor are those things that I just learn along the way as a human.”

When asked why he felt compelled to work on Crown Heights specifically, he simply replied, “I just fell in love with it.”

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