Elgin James was a founding member of the Boston-based gang Friends Stand United in the late 1980s. An anti-racist, anti-fascist and anti-drug group, the gang had approximately 200 members in the early 2000’s across several US states, and were responsible for at least two murders.
Elgin left the gang in 2007, and subsequently pursued a career as a writer and filmmaker. His debut film 'Little Birds' screened to critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011. Less than 24 hours after a Hollywood studio subsequently awarded him a screenwriting contract, he was sentenced to a year in prison for a historical extortion attempt related to his previous gang activity. Robert Redford was among the people who wrote character references for his sentencing.
While already leaving his criminal life behind long before his arrest, being incarcerated has not slowed James’ momentum. He co-wrote the film 'Lowrider' in 2016 and co-created the TV series 'Mayans MC' two years later.