WASHINGTON — Months ago, 22-year-old Ronald Thomas was sitting in a jail cell, convicted of assault. Now, he's preparing for auditions to make a rap career for himself.
"I have [an] anger problem, but I grew out of it," Thomas said. "I know that me talking in my raps and stuff, it gets me through ... so instead of all the drama ... I just put it all in my music."
It's a path he found in his darkest moment. While in jail, he joined the Young Men Emerging mentorship program.
"It’s a program that helps young men power themselves, like build themselves up," Thomas said.
He turned to music to build a better life, spinning bars, like "I don't need no hate. I be on a mission."
His mission: to be a success story from his community -- one that doesn't always feel accepted.
"Being a gay male in D.C. is very rough for the LGBTQ community," he said.
"Some of us get through it. Some of us don’t get through it."
He's getting through it, he said.
"By the age of 25, I want to see myself in L.A.," Thomas said, laughing.
And, he wants to help others who are afraid to be themselves get through it, too.
"I want everybody to be inspired," he said. "I want everybody to grow. I want everybody to be themselves."
"You always build yourself up," Thomas said. "And that’s where I’m at now. I was locked up. I was incarcerated, but now I am here to make a living for myself and to make myself a better person."