Top Boy actor Bashy returns to Harlesden school to surprise pupils

Newman Catholic College drama teacher Carmel Beirne Francis with former pupil Ashley Thomas

Newman Catholic College drama teacher Carmel Beirne Francis with former pupil Ashley Thomas - Credit: Juliette Fevre

A successful actor and rapper got a rapturous applause as he surprised pupils at his former Harlesden secondary school. 

Ashley Thomas, aka Bashy, fielded questions from students at Newman Catholic College for two hours on Tuesday (October 19) as part of their Black History Month project.

Actor Ashley Thomas  spent time chatting with Newman Catholic College Drama students

Actor Ashley Thomas spent time chatting with Newman Catholic College Drama students - Credit: Juliette Fevre

Carmel Beirne Francis introduced the star saying: “He grew up in London, down the road, like some of you guys.” 

As he walked in, Bashy hugged his former teacher to wide applause.

The 36-year-old chatted to the group of drama students about hard-work, being ambitious, the meaning of success, self-confidence, the support from his family, and mental health.

The first question asked by: “When did you reach that certain point in your life where you thought you could make it?”

To another about how much he earns, he refused to answer, with a burst of laughter. 

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Answering a question about sex scenes the actor said "talking about it" with the acting partner is key "to be sure to know their boundaries".

Actor Ashley Thomas was invited back to Newman Catholic College as part of the drama group's Black History Month project

Actor Ashley Thomas was invited back to Newman Catholic College as part of the drama group's Black History Month project - Credit: Juliette Fevre

Bashy also evoked his legacy: “As Caribbeans, we carry a lot of traumas; slavery, discrimination. 

“My grandparents came from Jamaica and Dominica," he added. "They came here poor.

"They worked hard, we lived in a council estate, and we did not have much money, but we made the best of our situation.”

After studying at the prestigious BRIT School, his musical breakthrough began in 2007 with his song Black Boys.

Name dropping famous black women and men in Britain, the tune still inspires the black youth. Some names are now friends of his. 

Actor and rapper Ashley 'Bashy' Thomas revisits his old school, Newman Catholic College

Actor and rapper Ashley 'Bashy' Thomas revisits his old school, Newman Catholic College - Credit: Juliette Fevre

Bashy's acting took off starring in Shank, the Black Mirror series, and Top Boy.

He’s now praised for his role in the critic-acclaimed Them, an American series starring a black family moving in a white neighbourhood where they are not welcome.

One pupil told the Times: “It felt like a friend talking to us rather than a professional. So our understanding is better.”

Mrs Beirne Francis recalled: “We didn’t have the studio, we had room 48 with a tiny little stage. It was on this stage that Ashley started to tread the board, as we say. He always wanted to act!”

Bashy added: “I’m one of the lucky ones, there are loads of men and women who aren’t that lucky. I’ve got love for you and I want you to do well. I want you to win.”

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