Eleven years ago DE’Aundre Bonds struck fortune and tragedy at the same time by gaining the most important role of his career and becoming convicted of manslaughter. Bonds’ zeal over learning from Denzel Washington that he acquired a co-starring role in “Antwone Fisher” clashed with the disposition of an aunt’s boyfriend and the confrontation between the men proved fatal. Bonds had already escaped a series of ghetto tribulations to get an auspicious career start appearing in movies like “The Wood” and “Get On The Bus.” The prison time seemed to return his life to a script written around the Republican party’s sociological assumptions about Black people. Bonds’ significant opportunities in the film industry could not snuff out the specter of the hood but it did not envelope him. He lived liked many locked-up artists and used his creative undertakings to guard his sanity. His catalog of emotional references realized another layer of organic depth and his other ambitions gained urgency.
Post-prison life is already looking promising with a role in “Gangster Squad,” the Sean Penn flick about the special LAPD unit that worked to keep the East Coast mafia out of Los Angeles in the ‘40’s and ‘50’s. Newfound excitement about his second chance also has an autobiography in progress, a clothing line and a rap CD that needs greater promotion. But his discussion of all these things lacks the passion he expresses about wanting to find the ultimate platform for his personal truth telling.
Tell me about your new role in “Gangster Squad?”
Sean Penn is the star of the movie. Ryan Gosling, Anthony Mackie it’s called “Gangster Squad” I have a co-starring role as Duke Del Red and I was fortunate to be able to come home and right away to work with such prominent people. The movie will be out in October of this year. It’s kind of top-secret so I can’t say too much about it.
By the time you had your first big break with the agent that you tried to sell candy to, had there been any actors you had studied? Did you know that was what you wanted to do with the rest of your life?
As far as studying no, I was looking at all kinds of movies and was inspired by different actors but there was no one that I was studying it was something I wanted to do.
People have commented on your ability to pull emotions out of nowhere where does that come from?
Life experiences. I grew-up in a single parent home the oldest of six children. My mother was on crack for twenty something years we were in foster homes and separated. I just go within myself I think it’s all accumulated in me. After so long experiencing so much and not really having a way to let it out once you have a channel to let it out it’s easier to go within yourself and let it out by way of acting, music, I can get up in me I can feel it. I’m not talking from inexperience. The only thing I never experienced was shooting heroin or getting raped. Other than that playing in “The Wood” and “3 Strikes” it’s all fun, it’s really acting to me.
With all that being said how come those experiences didn’t make you angry and bitter? Why did you choose to sell candy instead of drugs?
Because it’s not in my heart to be that way I wanna be what I want to see. Whatever happened in my life was meant to happen. Why? I’m learning and understanding now better than I did then. I couldn’t sell drugs because my mom was on that stuff and I saw her suffering and her family suffering. The sad part about it is that a Black man or even a Brown man who is a member of the have-nots is destined to see prison or jail in some way or another. I don’t know why or how check the statistics of the ratio of Blacks that enter prison against maybe Asians.
How do you see your experience with incarceration?
I was only able to digest it because of God. That was the only way and my family support. Other than that it was the worst experience in my life. I never want to dream or wish none of that on anybody I don’t care if it was my worst enemy.
Did you find in prison that laws treated people differently based on their color?
The law is absolutely imbalanced. How can a system based on lies and stealing, forcing slavery be fair? That’s why I respect Tyler Perry so much because the brother did not let somebody tell him no.
Since you’ve been in the business has there been anyone that you’ve especially taken note of?
Absolutely. At the top of the list Denzel Washington is second to none. He got his own circle. He got his own 360 degrees of this is all him and can’t nobody fade him. Leonardo DiCaprio is another one who is separated in a class of his own. I’m liking Marky Mark Wahlberg. Terrence Howard there’s so many different actors today that I feel that have that real gift they stand out and you know who they are.
How did it feel to get pulled to the side by Denzel after your “Antwone Fisher” audition?
When I first saw him come out I got quiet when he called my name I kind of knew but when he told me ‘You got the part’ and gave me a hug I was elated. I had to hold it in because he told me I had to go back out there because people were still auditioning. I went out there and acted like nothing happened and kept a regular face. I was glowing inside I was so happy.
What do you remember most about your experience working on “Get On The Bus?”
Just being around all my brothers. All of them I mean Spike Lee, Gabriel Casseus, Mr. Ossie Davis, Harry Lennix and Hill Harper. Just being on the bus just traveling and having fun, laughing, making money doing it and history. I think, if I’m not mistaken “Get On The Bus” was written by Reggie Blythewood in a week or two and it was filmed in less than 30 days. So it was like one of the quickest movies filmed and done in history. And it was wonderful and came out great the message just being able to be with people like who I just mentioned and work with them.
What kinds of roles do you consider to be ideal for this new chapter in your career?
To give a performance that’s worthy of us as a people. As a Black man especially playing roles selling dope because our people are better than that. I’m looking to play like maybe Eazy E real life characters. I would love to play Billy Dee I could slick my hair back because he has a wonderful story. I want to play challenging substantial roles that gives us a positive portrayal. We need to do more for ourselves as a people. I don’t care who it is these people take care of themselves. If you can’t fix your own house or build your own home how are you going to try to help someone else?
What do you feel is the state of Black film?
We’re coming up I see light and positive growth and independence. Brothers that’s making these movies such as Tyler Perry, The Hughes Brothers still even though it’s so few. Jada Pinkett, Will Smith their production company and movies then you have Rick Famuyiwa, the director of “The Wood,” the director of “Training Day” the brother Antoine Fuqua. We shining.
Do you have an interest in anything beyond acting such as writing and directing?
Yes I would love to direct. I’ve been kind of dabbling in that with my videos. I directed a couple of my videos. It’s given me a taste of a sense of direction. The first one I did got like 300,000 hits on Worldstarhiphop in less than two days. I’m writing and I wrote a book it’s about my life story but I still need help as far as a professional writer is concerned to put my book in its proper perspective. I’m writing it like I’m talking to the paper and the people is the paper so I’m letting them know this is what happened. I’m going to get it made because I have a story that’s real.
What are you doing with music and what other projects do you have coming down the chute?
I was actually in a rap group before I had an agent or ever acted. We were going to be the next N.W.A. we were young doing shows and kind of cool. It didn’t work out because doing something new as far as a group is concerned and you have people going into it together and then egos you got other stuff to come with that. I had to walk away from that I started auditioning and doing movies I said I didn’t want the troubles that was coming with it at the time. Now that I’m able to be out and have another opportunity I was when I was incarcerated once I got out I got into the studio and starting laying it down. The name of my album is Real Life and you can get it on iTunes under my name DE’Aundre Bonds and you can go on my Youtube page and check out my videos or you can go to Worldstarhiphop and just type in DE’Aundre Bonds. Right I’m doing this music because it was a dream of mine and I’m doing this clothing line and whatever I have a dream or a passion for I’m going for it. I want to have a platform to speak to our youth, our sisters to tell them the truth because I have really been through it. I’ve been shot three times, I seen my mother get raped multiple times in the bed with her as a child. The dude went to prison and did like ten years for that. I forgave the guy because it is what it is. I just want to be able to show people not to always look at things as necessarily being bad but as something to show how strong you are how powerful you are how resilient you are and how indestructible you are.