Nnamdi Asomugha used to entertain the public as a cornerback for the NFL. He’s since made the transition to acting, marrying Scandal’s Kerry Washington along the way.

Asomugha was in town earlier this month for MCON (aka the Millennial Engagement Conference). The conference took place at the Newseum and featured a host of notable speakers like actress Allison Williams of Get Out.

During his panel discussion, Asomugha praised the attendees, calling them interested in the conference’s issues—social justice, identity and the planet. The questions asked afterward were thought-provoking and many seemed to understand that if you are going to change the status quo, you have to start with little steps, Asomugha and his team shared.

Speaking of changing the system, Asomugha talked to CAPITOL STANDARD about his work on the new film Crown Heights. The movie– produced by Asomugha and being released by Amazon Studios and IFC Films– tells the tale of Colin Warner, who is wrongfully convicted of murder. Adapted from This American Life, Colin’s best friend Carl King (played by Asomugha) gives a large part of his life to proving that Colin is innocent.

Nnamdi Asomugha at MCON discussing his movie Crown Heights

Asomugha spent time with the real-life Carl in his neighborhood in Crown Heights– hearing stories about all Carl had to go through while Colin was imprisoned, keeping him focused and his spirits up.

“People die in prison and have nothing to do with the reason they’re there,” said Asomugha. “It shouldn’t be minimized at all.”

While the movie premiered at Sundance, the Crown Heights team won the audience award and as Asomugha put it “a lot of fanfare.” But what mattered most was letting the real-life characters “get their story out.”

The story immediately resonated with Asomugha, who as a child, was arrested for something he did not do. “It actually happened a couple of times,” he said. “For a moment I thought I just had bad luck. But I started to understand later that a lot of it is racially motivated, a profiling sort of thing.”

Movies that focus on social justice are only a small part of Asomugha’s life right now. He serves as chairman of his foundation, the Asomugha Foundation, that works to serve orphans and widows in need.

A percentage of the proceeds of Crown Heights will go to organizations helping those who have been wrongfully convicted.

Photography by Joy Asico