If the name Shawn “Solo” Fonteno doesn’t ring a bell already, then it will very soon. As the voice of the character “Franklin” in Rockstar Games’ massive new video game release Grand Theft Auto V, Solo is well on his way to becoming a household name among gamers across the globe. From a life of dealing drugs and banging with the West Coast Crips, to international voice actor, Solo’s rise to fame is truly one of success.
Born and raised in Watts, California, Solo was no stranger to hustling on the streets to make ends meet. From 12 – 18 years old, he lived the life of drug dealing and gang banging with the infamous East Coast Crips and Solo dabbled in the music industry eventually recording the West Coast anthem “Whoop Whoop” with Kam and DJ Pooh. He teamed up with Kam for several years and rose to moderate fame touring with the likes of Ice Cube, Lynch Mob, Naughty by Nature and Queen Latifah. Soon after a highly publicized falling out with Ice Cube that was later smoothed over, Solo was shot and almost died. The life changing moment was a huge wake up call and he vowed to put family and God first, leaving his gang banging days behind.
Solo went on to try his hand at acting, eventually starring in the 2000 film 3 Strikes and The Wash in 2001 – both written and directed by his good friend DJ Pooh. In 2004, Solo took up his childhood passion of motorcycle racing and joined the famous Choppers, eventually rising to become the crew’s Vice President. During his stint racing motorcycles, Solo helped put the Choppers back on the map, hosting some of the biggest and best warehouse parties in Carson, California – a warehouse he still owns and rents out today.
Solo’s life took an unexpected turn soon after when DJ Pooh, who was instrumental in creating the bestselling Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, invited him to Rockstar Games to help develop characters for the next chapter in the Grand Theft Auto video game series. Solo was one of many to try out and lend his voice for the lead character of “Franklin,” but his authentic background as a gang member, ex-felon and Watts native, was just what Rockstar Games was looking for. Two weeks later, he received a phone call asking him to be the voice of “Franklin” in Grand Theft Auto V. Solo gave up motorcycle racing and travelled between LA and New York for the next 2 and a half years, intensely developing his character. Solo is now apart of what is slated to be one of the best selling video games ever.
Now facing fame yet again, Solo plans to continue pursuing voice acting, film, and other opportunities, but remains humble and never forgets to put his family first.