ST. LOUIS — Bruce Franks, Jr. is no stranger to the spotlight.

The 35-year-old first rose to prominence as an outspoken demonstrator during police protests after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson more than five years ago.

Franks was elected to two terms as a Missouri State Representative in 2016.

Now, you might say the activist turned lawmaker is going Hollywood.

"Yes, it really does feel surreal," said Franks during an exclusive interview Monday with 5 On Your Side.

Bright and early Monday morning Franks watched on-line the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 2020 Oscar Nominations and couldn't believe what he heard.

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"St. Louis Superman," a documentary short that profiles his life, is now nominated for an Oscar.

"I went crazy. You know I was jumping across the room. I was loud and then I actually broke down in tears because it's been a long year," said Franks.

Franks served for nearly three years in the Missouri House of Representatives before resigning.

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He said he wanted to focus on his mental health and his family.

In 1991, Bruce was just 6 years old when his 9-year-old brother was shot and killed in St. Louis.

And, two years ago, Franks tragically lost two more loved ones. He has since left St. Louis.

"I was going through a lot. I just lost my best friend and my Godson both to gun violence and I was in a super dark place," said Bruce.

The St. Louis native's journey from that "dark place" to activist to lawmaker is now the subject of St. Louis Superman.

"I never, never would have thought it would amount to this," said Bruce Franks.

Franks' time in office wasn't without controversy. He was fined more than 14-thousand dollars for using his campaign fund for personal expenses. 

However, his focus now: winning the Oscar.

"I really don't have a choice, but to put all that behind me, " said Franks.

In Franks' former 78th District, supporters are crossing their fingers "St. Louis Superman" captures that gold statuette.

"It kind of brings a little recognition to our city. You know positive recognition, I'd like to think so it's cool," said Andy Karandzieff, the owner of Crown Candy.

"I'm not all that surprised about his Oscar nomination," said Missouri State Representative Rasheen Aldridge, who succeeded Franks and currently serves the 78th District. "Bruce is loving, caring, passionate about his community and he deserves it. I hope he wins." 

"My message right now is no matter where you come from, no matter what challenges you face, there's hope and when we fight, we win," Franks said. "This film is the testament to the work that we put in in St. Louis, and, yes I hope I win."

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