His identity was recognized in the shadows of the city, but his real name was never used. The underground crowd knew him as Solo.
At the peak of the crack epidemic in the 1980s, Solo used this time to make a large profit with the consistent demand for the highly addictive substance. At the risk of his health, community, and family, Solo succumbed to a life that came with a guaranteed threat to everything he loved.
Accepting a hopeless fate, Solo reached a breaking point and attempted suicide. Voices in his head convinced him that he deserved this fatality. Moments before ending his life, Solo’s family rushed through the door, and pulled him out of that head space. His wife brought him to the decision to seek better.
He cringed at the idea, but eventually Solo accepted an opportunity to become a voice-over actor through a well-connected friend. Now that he uses his real name that was tucked away, Shawn Fonteno carries a new level of respect and holds a legendary story of triumph.
Thanks to the encouragement of globally known artist, DJ Pooh, Fonteno is the iconic voice of Franklin Clinton, one the main characters living in the virtual world of “Grand Theft Auto V.”
Fonteno speaks with great power and influence and he uses it to confirm a personal truth, there is a way out.
In an exclusive interview with the Los Angeles Sentinel, Fonteno shared that his memoir, “Game Changer: My Journey from the Streets to Your Video Game Console,” dives deep into his past. It illustrates the battle with self-destruction and a golden opportunity to live with a sense of freedom.
The book was released March 24. Alongside a comic book version, the memoir is available in all major bookstores and outlets. Additionally, the voice-over actor narrated this project himself for an immersive experience through audio platforms.
“It kind of saved me — getting this job,” admitted Fonteno, who explained that his prior environment touched the realms of an unforgiveable darkness and statistically speaking, there was not much of an opportunity to escape.
Fonteno said, “It (‘Grand Theft Auto V’) took me from my environment in L.A. and put me in New York to work.” This allowed the newly cast voice-over actor to take a step back and disconnect with heinous energy that lived within the cut of Los Angeles.
Fonteno shared that his old stomping grounds became foreign after his first few steps in the virtual reality of his character, Franklin Clinton.
Through the series, Fonteno developed the lead character, Clinton, in “Grand Theft Auto V.” Although there are noted debates around the intention of this game, there is no denying the opportunity it provided all those involved in its creation and the escape it holds for those who need it.
Fonteno’s voice has been embedded in youth culture for generations and continues to be admired across the globe. Reflecting over his life choices that led him here, Fonteno constructed a memoir that proves light can shine through the darkest parts of one’s mind.
Fonteno stated within the official press release, “I hope my story shows what’s possible to anyone who may be moving in the same kind of circles I was moving in as a youth.
“I’m living proof that you can move past whatever circumstances you’re in and find a way to make a change and have a positive impact. I’m blessed to be in this situation and so grateful to the fans of Rockstar Games who have been so supportive.”
According to the release, “Grand Theft Auto V had the highest-grossing entertainment property of all time,” selling more than 155 million copies on an international level. Franklin’s recent appearance in “The Contract” is the latest blockbuster update to Grand Theft Auto Online and Fonteno’s return is trending across the world.
For more information about his journey, go to https://sologamechanger.com/book/