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Afton Williamson

Last night, upcoming actress Afton Williamson starred alongside Wood Harris, Mack Wilds, Method Man, and more in a VH1 TV movie called The Breaks – and she was dope.

Just one look at a preview of the ’90s hip-hop drama quickly informed us she was an “unreasonable” star waiting to happen, and boy, did it happen. Afton portrays Nikki Jones, a young woman who pushed her Harvard Law scholarship aside to make her mark on hip-hop and the music industry with her man (David Call), and their longtime friend, (Mack Wilds).

Ironically, the story of her own life is not very different. So, who is Afton Williamson? Get to know the rising star below.

Afton moved to NYC with nothing:

Born in 1985, Afton hails from Toledo, Ohio and moved to New York City in August 2008 after graduating from the Alabama Shakespeare Festival masters program. According to a new interview with The Wrap, she hit the big city with just an air mattress and her degree. Afton told the site:

“I had gone straight through school, no breaks, and ended up here … I did it my way, and have been pretty successful. I really know what it means to pave the hard ground in New York, and if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. I had no clue that that was the tag line from the posters, until they came out. Which was funny, because that’s why I came to New York. Anytime someone would ask me, I would say, ‘If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.’”

She’s worked with Kerry Washington:

Before The Breaks, we knew Afton from Nashville, as she has played “Makena” on the television series since 2012. Surprise, surprise – before hitting the small screen, Afton was Kerry Washington’s understudy for the Broadway play, Race.

Afton said of Nashville: “Well the funny thing about ‘Nashville,’ I was Makena, Hayden Panettiere‘s character’s publicist. I didn’t even know it was fully a musical until it aired. We didn’t know anything about this because we were still filming until it aired. And every time we read through, we never did the songs, because that was separate stuff. That would be in recordings and they’d film that separately. And I wasn’t really in any of those scenes. There were a couple scenes where I was overseeing things in the studio with Hayden, and that was when I started to realize how good the music was. But I didn’t know everybody could sing.

I’m still a huge fan of that show. That’s one show that I religiously watch because I thought it was the coolest thing. I love the idea of it.”

Afton doesn’t like the idea of comparing Straight Outta Compton and Empire – and neither do we:

She told The Wrap: To compare “Straight Outta Compton” and “Empire,” they’re so hugely different. So I kind of cringe sometimes when I hear that because the only comparison is that they’re African American movies and shows. “Empire” is extremely different, and for it to be on television is super, super cool. It’s in everybody’s lap. It’s this new version of something that I never even knew about, the inside of hip-hop today. “Straight Outta Compton,” I think that was just a story that people wanted to hear told.

It’s interesting that we’re now doing a story about the ’90s as a period piece. They were adults, and they lived through it, so I think that’s why everybody wants to do the ’90s right now. Music and hip-hop is so relevant now, and kids don’t really know where it came from. And I learned a lot too, even thinking that I already knew about it.

For more from Afton, head over to her Instagram account: @therealaftonw. She’s about to blow up, dawg.


The Breaks: Everything You Need To Know About Rising Star Afton Williamson  was originally published on