In 2007, Willesden’s Ace Ruele was sentenced to eight years in prison for robbery with an imitation firearm. Fast forward to 2017, he now owns an entertainment company and has starred in a Hollywood blockbuster and much-loved TV soap opera.
“Going to prison, was a transformative experience for me”, says Ace.
“I learned to let go of the desire to live up to a particular image of being a youth from the streets to paying attention to the things I loved such as psychology, spirituality, health and fitness.”
When he was released from prison in 2012, Ace set out to make a success of his life and achieve his goals despite his criminal record and the stereotypes this can create. Ace sought the help of Access UK which is an employment service for Afro Caribbean people.
“I spoke with the founder of Access UK who helped me to develop my enterprise skills and tapped into my creative abilities to set up my own business, an entertainment agency. He had a clear understanding of the lifestyle I had lived and environment I was from, and appreciated my reasons for not wanting to pursue a nine to five role. I now believed that, even with my criminal record and history, I could still become someone of value and have a career in the field I desired.”
Ace’s drive mixed with the support he received from Access UK led to major success - from playing Rowan in EastEnders earlier this year to starring in Hollywood blockbuster Legend of Tarzan and British film Brotherhood. In addition to his entertainment business Ace also founded the Self Success programme which works with schools, charities and youth groups to help younger generations achieve their own goals.
“Self Success is about having the ability to be totally aware and in control of your own actions and know the correct formula for achieving personal goals. The programme is designed to help individuals live up to their full potential by focusing on these keys principles.”
Speaking about what’s next for the comeback kid, Ace says: “I’m looking to write a book as well as continue to hold more workshops in schools across London. My book will be titled Beyond The Stereotype and will come with a DVD featuring interviews with 30 black men who have been involved in crime, or lived in areas affected by crime, but gone on to become successful in other areas.”