EXCLUSIVE: Jann Mardenborough Talks Going From Gamer To Racer & Offers Advice To Young Black & Brown Dreamers


Video games like Gran Turismo are not just mindless wastes of time, as some people (mainly your parents or a girlfriend/boyfriend) would tell you. Yes, they provide gamers a way to escape reality and provide entertainment. They can also be tools to help you level up and reach the final level in the real world. No one knows that better than Jann Mardenborough, whose incredible and inspiring story is the plot device for PlayStation Productions’ latest film based on one of its video game IPs.

Case in point: Gran Turismo, the popular racing video game, also known as the “ultimate driving simulator,” delivers car and racing enthusiasts the feel of being in the driver’s seat of a suped-up vehicle.

Believe it or not, one person used the Gran Turismo video game to make his dreams of becoming a professional racer a reality. That person is Jann Mardenborough, and his story about taking a chance, signing up for GT Academy, and grabbing the opportunity by the horns to become a member of the Nissan racing team has now been turned into a movie.

Gran Turismo

Source: Sony Pictures / Gran Turismo

PlayStation Productions’ latest feature starring David Harbour (Stranger Things, Black Widow) as the aspiring racer’s mentor, Jack Salter, and Archie Madekwe (See, Midsommer) as Jann is turning out to be one of the biggest surprises of the year because honestly, who truly believed that Gran Turismo would turn out to be an inspirational sports film for a new generation?

Gran Turismo

Source: Sony Pictures Entertainment / Gran Turismo

Before the film’s release, Cassius Life had the opportunity to speak with Jann Mardenborough about his story, which many possibly have no idea about but now will, thanks mainly to this film.

Jann Mardenborough Knew Hew Was The Sh*t In Gran Turismo At A Young Age

2015 GP3 Series Round 1..Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain..Sunday 10 May 2015..Podium. Jann Mardenborough, (GBR, Carlin)..Photo: Zak Mauger/GP3 Series Media Service..ref: Digital Image _L0U5383

Source: Formula 1 / Getty

We asked the 31-year-old racer when he realized that his Gran Turismo skills were on another level, and Mardenborough revealed it was at a young age growing up in Darlington, United Kingdom.

“I’ve always been good at video games and Gran Turismo as a kid. So I started playing it when I was eight, I guess when I was a teenager, 13, 14 when I would play with my friends head to head, not through PlayStation Live or anything, ” Mardenborough begins.

2014 GP3 Series. Round 7. .Autodromo di Monza, Monza, Italy..Thursday 4 September 2014..Jann Mardenborough (GBR, Arden International)..Photo: Zak Mauger/GP3 Series Media Service..ref: Digital Image _L0U8905

Source: Formula 1 / Getty

He continues, “This is PlayStation 2. I could beat all my mates easy. So I’d go [with] the slower car, and they’d go with the quicker car. And then I realized, “Okay, I’m actually okay at this game.” As the years went on, and when I started going online, [the] same thing, I would go the slower car because I find it more satisfying to beat someone with a slower car online compared to them using the quicker one. So yeah, I’ve always been good at the game.”

Do something in life which gives you purpose and passion

Gran Turismo Is A Story For All Generations

Gran Turismo World Series 2023 Showdown - Day Two

Source: Oliver Hardt – Gran Turismo / Getty

Each generation has inspirational sports films like Rocky, Chariots of Fire, Rudy, Coach Carter, Remember The Titans, Miracle, etc. Gran Turismo is definitely one of those films that will leave many viewers surprisingly inspired.

We asked Mardenborough what makes his story inspirational for today’s generation, and he points out that his story will inspire today’s youth and older generations.

“I think I was very sure of what I wanted to do with my life. I was very fortunate to have a father who told me from a young age, “Do something in life which gives you purpose and passion,” said Mardenborough.

“That happened to be racing cars. Of course, me saying this and then me achieving that, there’s a lot of things that have got to happen for that to become true. However, I believe there’s a lot of luck in that, but you get lucky the more you try. And I never let that light go out.”

He continues, “So I guess it works for people of Gen Z, younger people, and all generations, don’t let that light go out. Keep your eyes open to these opportunities that could present you [with] a chance to fulfill something in your heart that you would like to do for a job, a career, or a hobby. Of course, our generations, and now there’s many people who play video games, you can make a career at playing video games, whether that is through streaming services and YouTube and whatnot. You can make a career out of it, which wasn’t the case, say, 12 years ago with GT Academy or racing. So you have to follow your heart because you have one life.”

I believe there’s a lot of luck in that, but you get lucky the more you try.

What He Hopes His Story Does For Young Kids of Color

2014 GP3 Series Round 3..Silverstone International Circuit, Silverstone, Northamptonshire, England.Saturday 5 July 2014..Jann Mardenborough (GBR, Arden International) .Photo: Adam Warner/GP3 Series Media Service..ref: Digital Image _L5R0409

Source: Formula 1 / Getty

Of course, sticking with inspiration, Jann’s story can also serve as an inspirational tale for Black and brown teenagers who dream big and have ambitious goals that their parents or the world might tell them are unattainable. To those dreamers, Mardenborough offered them some advice.

“Your soul has to want it. Not for any other external reasons, whether that be money or whatever else it has to be because you love doing it,” Mardenborough begins.

“I do things because I want to do them because I love doing them, not because of what they can bring. So I think people have to be very clear on that. I was very clear of myself as a kid. I want to race cars. That’s all I want to do. I don’t care if it doesn’t pay. I don’t care, whatever, all the other external factors.”

“Your soul has to want it. Not for any other external reasons…

“It’s just I want to race cool cars. So it’s a question people have to ask themselves, “What do I want to do?” If that happens to be playing video games or to be a YouTuber or to be a Twitch streamer or whatever, to make a career in that industry, in the gaming industry because you love what you do, then all credit to you. Go for it and make something,” he concluded.

Gran Turismo races into theaters nationwide on August 25.