Arrested twice as a teen for crimes he didn’t commit, Asomugha has an immediate understanding of Warner’s story. “It obviously stays with you,” he says. He initially wanted to portray Warner in the film, before auditioning to play his best friend. “It turns out Carl did more for me than I could imagine, because it was really me playing Carl that gave me the voice to speak out for all the people that have been in this situation, including myself. That’s where the real healing came from.”
It also speaks to the larger impact of this film. Following 13th, Ava DuVernay’s Emmy-nominated Netflix documentary, Crown Heights showcases the flaws of the United States prison and criminal justice system. “This is a bigger issue that I’m trying to help fix,” Asomugha says, hoping the film will be viewed as “activism through art.”
“It wasn't the intention going in, but you start to see how you're changing people,” he says, recalling stories of people who, at screenings of the film, told stories of family members stuck in prison following wrongfully convictions.