2019 Emmy Nominee, Ameer Baraka Discusses His Journey To Success With Dyslexia

Black Facts.com

By Taroue Brooks

When did you realize that you had dyslexia?

After being sentenced to the state penitentiary. I finally wanted to stand up to my fear of reading. I joined a GED class to learn to read. It was then I realized through my teacher after my struggle to write a complete sentence, he had me tested for dyslexia. He talked to me about it, but I had never heard of the word. My mother called me stupid so much as a kids that I thought he was confirming what she has been saying. Because dyslexia sounded bad. After I my diagnose and explained to what it was my journey to face my fear of read started.

What inspired you to become an advocate to help others who have dyslexia?
The long bus ride from New Orleans to Cotton Port Louisiana prison. It was about 30 black men that was headed to this slave camp. We all had to go through a screening process, which they wanted to know our reading ability. Only one man had a high school diploma. The rest of us read very poorly. So, after I received my GED after four years of trying, I wanted to help other inmates who were dyslexic and didn’t know it. Dyslexia, has the ability to fleece you of your talent and mobility. Fearing not being able to read just make you avoid doing life the conventional way. Also, I want kids who struggled to read to know that it’s not a death sentence and let parents know never should they tell their kids that they are stupid because they cant read like my mother and siblings told me

How did you become an actor?
While in prison I read about Charles Dutton, I was inspired by his life story and decided to emulate someone who was positive. I started acting in prison. The Warden would bring trouble  kid come to the prison to be scared straight. So, inmate would do short plays for them and I really enjoyed that. After my release, I went to LA and joined a actors workshop for three years. Rapper Master P. And I grow up In The same projects and he took note of my inspiration to leave prison and take acting classes and but me in contact with his agent. My first co- leading role was the New Guy. The rest is history. Thanks Master P.

What type of training maintenance do you engage to stay viable in such a competitive industry?
Each day I workout and eat healthy to keep my looks up to part. I also, i run a metal business thats very lucrative. The owner is  my business partner in Real estate. As a actor you better not just focus on acting. This is a tuff business.

What role would you like to play and why?
I would  enjoy playing a Marvel character. My physical built would really work and being athletic helps. Working on American Horror Stories as the minotaur has prepare me to deal with the many hours in make up for such a role.

How has the pandemic impacted you? 
I’ve had many hour to reflect on what’s really important. Like read each day, prayer, and understanding that I already have all I need. Life is too short to waste time not being happy because you don’t value who you are because someone else has what appears to be more things. I’m rich In every way. We can’t take anything with us when we leave.

BRONX SIU: VENGEANCE – Season 2 | Trailer [HD] | UMC

2019 Emmy Nominee, Ameer Baraka
Prior to being nominated for a 2019 Emmy Award as Outstanding Actor in a Daytime Digital Drama Series for his role as Darius in the UMN/Amazon Prine Video series, “Bronx SIU,” actor, author, educator, and activist, Ameer Baraka, was perhaps best known for playing the role of Angela Bassett’s love interest on the Emmy Award winning hit Fox TV show, “ American Horror Story: Coven.

Baraka grew up dirt poor in the most impoverished and most dangerous public housing project in New Orleans, the Calliope Houses, made famous in Hip-Hop lore as “The Callio.” Because he was dyslexic and could not read, Baraka, like so many millions of children, was teased and was called names like “dumb” and “stupid,” even by his own mother, when he was a child. He could not keep up with the other children in school. Because his dyslexia was undiagnosed, the kind of special attention that helps dyslexics achieve in the classroom like normal children was not given to him. He dropped out of school in the 8th grade and he did not learn to read until he was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 23 and in prison. He was driven to a life of crime because of his dyslexia.

He earned his GED in prison and has since gone on to become a successful TV and movie actor and producer, fashion model, sought after public speaker, police-community relations activist, and accomplished author. His acclaimed memoir, “The Life I Chose – The Streets Lied To Me,” (www.BarakaBook.com) which chronicles his difficult journey overcoming dyslexia and finding redemption after a childhood fraught with pain and despair, is required reading by multiple police departments and school systems throughout the country.


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