Jahi Di’Allo Winston Breaks Down Walls With Inspired ‘Charm City Kings’ Performance

Jahi Di'Allo Winston talks about how he approached his role in the feature, its stellar Sundance Film Festival reception, and collaborating with co-star Meek Mill.

Teyonah Parris (Teri), Jahi Di'Allo Winston (Mouse) Photograph by HBO Max / William Gray


Directed by Angel Manuel Soto, Charm City Kings centers on Mouse (Jahi Di’Allo Winston), a 14-year-old in west Baltimore who attempts to join the Midnight Clique, a group of dirt bike riders who ultimately leave a deep impact on his life. Winston talked to Deepest Dream and elaborated on his sterling work on the film which co-stars Meek Mill (as his mentor Blax) and Teyonah Parris (as his hard working mother).

Kezii Curtis (Sweartagawd), Jahi Di’Allo Winston (Mouse), Donielle T. Hansley Jr. (Lamont) Photograph by HBO Max / William Gray

One of Charm City Kings’ strengths lies in its vivid portrayal of Mouse (Jahi Di’Allo Winston), a youth who works for a veterinary clinic on a part-time basis. Though he has a natural facility for treating animals, Mouse’s main focus is to get a bike and become part of the Midnight Clique.

Warnings from his mother (Teyonah Parris) and a concerned detective (William Catlett) are not enough to stop Mouse from pursuing his passions, and ultimately he and his friends become a part of the bike crew.

During the interview, Winston talked about the fantastic reception Charm City Kings received at the Sundance Film Festival and why, when it came to portraying Mouse, he also had to explore his own persona.

Jahi Di’Allo Winston (Mouse), Meek Mill (Blax)
Photograph by HBO Max / William Gray

“Seemingly, on the surface level, (Mouse) is this stereotypical Black troubled teen but when you really delve into the depths of who he is as a human being, you see he has a vareity of issues going on and he’s a complex and multi-layered individual,” said Winston, whose impressive body of work also includes Proud Mary, The Dead Don’t Die, and Queen & Slim. “That’s my job as an actor is to find the honesty in both of those scenarios and find the duality. That was probably the most difficult part – to tap into who I am, because I put walls up as a human being in and trying to break those down was probably the most difficult part.” 

Charm City Kings won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Acting and was also showcased last month at the Urbanworld Film Festival and New York Latino Film Festival. Check out the video below as Winston talks about his acting process for Charm City Kings, watching the movie at Sundance, and collaborating with Meek Mill:

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