Ashton Sanders Opens Up About Portraying RZA In ‘Wu Tang: An American Saga’
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Ashton Sanders Opens Up About Portraying RZA In Hulu's 'Wu Tang: An American Saga'

The rising star shines in Hulu's new scripted series chronicling the backstory behind one of Hip Hop's most iconic groups.

History. Hip Hop. Brotherhood.

No three words better describe what evolved to become the fabric of iconic rap conglomerate, the Wu Tang Clan.

But when group member Robert “RZA” Fitzgerald Diggs sat across from Ashton Sanders to share the news that he’d been hand-picked to portray Diggs in the upcoming biopic series, Sanders was ready to crush the monstrous task at hand.

Ashton Sanders Opens Up About Portraying RZA In ‘Wu Tang: An American Saga’

Though having already taken Hollywood by storm with his starring roles in films like Moonlight and Native Son, the dynamic young actor admits that he was also equal parts overwhelmed and honored — naturally.

His story is a story of passion and how their circumstances didn’t define them.

“There was no audition at all,” Sanders told ESSENCE. “RZA and [co-creator] Alex Tse already had their mind made up that they wanted me to portray him. At first it was kind of overwhelming but, obviously, it’s an honor.”

Ashton Sanders Opens Up About Portraying RZA In ‘Wu Tang: An American Saga’
WU-TANG: AN AMERICAN SAGA — Episode 101 — Based on one of the most influential and important groups in hip-hop history, Wu-Tang: An American Saga is inspired by ìThe Wu-Tang Manualî and ìTao of Wuî, and based on the true story of the Wu-Tang Clan. Set in early ’90s New York at the height of the crack cocaine epidemic, the show tracks the Clan’s formation, a vision of Bobby Diggs aka The RZA, who strives to unite a dozen young, black men that are torn between music and crime but eventually rise to become the unlikeliest of American success stories. Ason (TJ Atoms), Bobby (Ashton Sanders), and Dennis (Siddiq Saunderson), shown. (Photo by: /Hulu)

Wu Tang: An American Saga delves into the unfiltered story of the beloved Staten Island group, complete with a glimpse into the individual journeys of each of its’ ten members.

A true highlight of the filming process for Sanders was the forming of an unbreakable bond between the series’ talented cast members.

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“Just Like The Wu, we all came from different places,” he says. “But the more time we spent together, the more we were like, ‘Damn, we really fuck with each other.’ So, that’s very special and you feel that in the show with like Shameik [Moore], myself, Dave East, Joey Badass, Siddiq Saunderson and Johnell [Young] and everyone.”

Arguably the most multi-faceted of the Hip Hop cohort, the real-life RZA has also become a respected producer, director and actor. Sanders is confident the series will educate viewers on just how crucial his character was to the creation—and survival—of the group.

Ashton Sanders Opens Up About Portraying RZA In ‘Wu Tang: An American Saga’

“It was interesting to find out how RZA was really like the curator of the group,” he says. ”Like you see in the show, these guys kind of come from the same place but, are totally different people. He was like the bridge, [who] cultivated all of this through passion, through hope, through never giving up. His story is a story of passion and how their circumstances didn’t define them; it made them stronger and made him stronger.”

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The Saga Continues, indeed. Wu Tang: An American Saga is streaming now, exclusively on Hulu.