De’Angelo Wilson, a 29 year-old actor who had parts in 8 Mile, Antwone Fisher and The Salon, was found dead in what looks to be a suicide in a commercial building in Los Angeles. His family didn’t have enough money to send his body to Dayton, Ohio, and his friends including Antwone Fisher made sure he was able to be transported home for a funeral. His mother said the last time she had spoken to him was about six weeks ago. He was having trouble finding work and was depressed:
When Los Angeles police found De’Angelo Wilson’s body in the back room of a Wilshire Boulevard business, he was classified a transient, “but was well known to the people in the area,” said L.A. County coroner’s spokesman Craig Harvey.
Authorities were able to contact Gina White, a producer who had worked with Wilson on the 2002 film “Antwone Fisher,” and who had become close to him — “I kind of adopted him, almost like a son,” she said. “He didn’t talk much about where he came from, or his childhood. When I found out what happened, I made a lot of phone calls — he had a lot of friends. We were desperate to find his family — his friends in California were ready and more than willing to take responsibility, to have a memorial service. But I couldn’t stand the thought of somebody out there not knowing what had happened to their loved one.
“I remember him talking about doing something with the mayor of Dayton,” White recalled, so she searched the Internet for clues.
Wilson’s hometown mayor had, in fact, honored Wilson in September 2002 with a day in his honor and a key to the city, holding him up as an example of a young person “who did not give up on his dream and who worked hard to achieve great things,” said Mayor Rhine McLin at the time.
With that information guiding her searches, White eventually stumbled on a DaytonDailyNews.com story about Wilson’s suicide, published Friday, Dec. 5, the day after his mother had been contacted by authorities.
“I’d prayed the night before over this, and my prayers were answered,” White said. “His family doesn’t have to worry about getting him home — we’ll take care of it.”
The friends include Antwone Fisher, whose own story of overcoming a nightmarish childhood became a movie, directed by Denzel Washington.
“He was such a fun and funny guy,” said Fisher. “I’d have backyard parties and De’Angelo would always come an hour early to help me set up. He’d tell great jokes … It’s just real hard to think of a guy that happy and fun getting down so low.”
“He got depressed,” said Wilson’s mother, Debra. “His career kind of failed, and I think he was beating himself up. Things were real down and he just didn’t know how to pick himself up.” His most recent roles were in 2005’s “The Salon” and “Mercy Street” in 2006.
Wilson attended Dunbar High School, dropped out, earned a GED, and was taking acting classes at Kent State University when he was cast in “8 Mile.” He was on a roll, it seemed, until the bottom dropped out and the acting parts were few and far between.
“I talked to him about a month and a half ago,” said his mother. “He wasn’t good … I was real worried about him.”
[From Dayton Daily News]
This story really affected me and I’m getting weepy over it. I enjoyed 8 Mile but I haven’t seen it since it was out and don’t particularly remember this guy. I’m remembering the message in Antwone Fischer and what a moving film that was. What makes this sad is that he was a young guy from Ohio trying to make it in LA and he felt like he had no other options. Our thoughts are with his friends and family.
In the trailer for Antwone Fisher there’s a brief scene with Wilson at about 2:19. He can be seen in the 8 Mile trailer around the 2 minute mark. He’s the guy in the middle in a still from the film, below, and is also shown in the back of the car.