Sunday, October 12, 2014

Cyrus Webb Presents... A Conversation with Actor/Author IronE Singleton

by Cyrus Webb

Regardless of the challenge that we face or the difficulty before us we all have the opportunity to do something great with our lives. A great example of this comes from IronE Singleton. I haven't been able to stop talking about him and his book BLINDSIDED BY THE WALKING DEAD since I discovered it. After reading this conversation you'll see why.

For many who know the journey of IronE Singleton growing up you might have believed that nothing good could ever come his way. If you had bet against him, however, you would have lost big time. Today the Atlanta native has achieved his dream of being not just a working actor but one that has starred in some of the biggest television shows and movies of the past three years. Most notably he was the thug Alton alongside Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side and then in 2011 he brought to life the character T-Dog in the hit AMC show The Walking Dead. Both experiences shaped him in ways you wouldn't imagine, and he has chronicled his experiences in his memoir BLINDSIDED BY THE WALKING DEAD. It's a book that I was so impressed with that I made it one of my Top 50 Non-Fiction reads of 2013.

In the book we read that IronE knew he wanted to head to Hollywood and be known, but he could have never imagined the journey over the past few years. "I  didn't know when it was going to happen," he told me during our interview. "I just knew it was going to happen. Now that I'm living it, it's a little surreal."

Ironically, though we look at the character T-Dog as a zombie fighting machine in The Walking Dead, IronE says that he learned quite a bit about himself from the character. "The fact that T-Dog came together with so many different people to help one another, to survive....that is ultimately what it's like on this earth," he explained. "We're supposed to be looking out for each other. We can't just make it alone. We are all one. We come from the same source. That is what I realized when I was playing the character.  It's a lot bigger than the walking dead. It's more than just a tv show. It's an extreme form of reality, but it is something that people could really relate to and take their minds off of their real life situations and enjoy."

Along with his own journey IronE's book takes us into the underbelly of his community, a world that would eventually claim many of his friends and even his own mother. I asked if it was difficult to share so much of his truth that way with the world. "It wasn't difficult to share at all," he told me. "I think I needed to share it all in order to cleanse myself in order for my rebirth to take place. I had skeletons that I was dealing with. In order for me to become the person I am today I had to share with the rest of humanity." Instead of regret, IronE experienced a release. "When I did let it out things seem to flow more easily in the universe.

"My mother was a crack addict and alcoholic and died from HIV complications. Just seeing what that life (doing drugs) could do to a person told me that I didn't want to go down that road." He became strengthened in his resolve to change things around. "I was determined to never do drugs and once I had a family I talked with them about the dangers of that life. It's a hard thing to make a change," he told me. "It's a lot easier to just say you will never go down that path. It's a road of nightmares, one that's very difficult to come back from."

Ironically it was acting that also caused IronE to examine the way he was treating himself and women as well. While filming a project called Secrets which dealt with a character that was HIV positive, he says he began to do a self-evaluation. "It took me back to growing up in the inner city," he explained. "My big fear was thinking of all the women I had slept with, some of them unprotected. I started to reflect on all that I had done in my life. During the filming of the movie he was tested for HIV. When it came back negative he saw it as a message from God. "My purpose hadn't been fulfilled yet," he told me. He began setting out looking for ways to fulfill that very purpose. In 2009 that opportunity presented itself in a big way.

That year IronE Singleton began working on the movie The Blindside, and his character would become part of some of the most memorable scenes of the Academy-nominated film. After the taping he was approached by the show's star Sandra Bullock, chronicling it in his book:

"She threw her arms around me and gave me a big hug, commending me for my performance, saying I had genuinely wowed her and creeped her out at the same time. Sandy told me she panicked a little when she saw what I was putting out there, wondering how she'd be able to respond in kind. She looked forward to seeing me in Hollywood and hoped we would have the chance to work together again in the future."

When I asked him how that encounter made him feel, IronE says it was "affirmation that everything happens for a reason. This was my time. Everything I had gone through in my life had come full circle."

The same can be said about the show The Walking Dead. "My hope is that everybody uses their experiences in life to realize that there is always a better day as long as we continue to work hard and never give up. Always have truth and love in your heart, and you'll be alright."

When it comes to the message he wants his fans to take away from his career it is this: "Your purpose is to help others search for theirs and on that journey you will find yours. The only thing I have to do on this planet is to love. Do everything to where God would appreciate it. No matter what you are going through stay optimistic. Use the negative as fuel for the positive. Let it inspire you."

To stay abreast of all the new projects and appearance for IronE, visit and make sure to follow him on Twitter at

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