You know the name. You know the voice; stoic and commanding. Regal. Classic. Refinement personified. Veteran actor Malik Yoba is a Hollywood mainstay, mastering longevity, accompanied by peer respect with a hefty dose of talent. Born Abdul-Malik Kashie Malik Yoba, the former “Empire” actor has contributed to some of TV’s fan favorite and memorable series, including “Girlfriends” and “Arrested Development.”
From “New York Undercover,” the 90s trailblazing FOX TV cop drama, to ABC’s “Designated Survivor” to Cool Runnings, the side splitting comedy about a Jamaican bobsled team, Yoba knows how to simply, keep it moving. His resume is as impressive as his heart, overflowing with humility with a positive aura that precedes him by the mile. His foundation, Iconic 32, a technology platform that builds and supports communities via pop culture, along with his inspirational speeches showcases Yoba as an icon well versed beyond Hollywood’s fame and fortune.
A blend of class and humble authenticity, the three time NAACP Image Award winner continues to command audiences from the silver screen to theaters, mastering a successfully acting career spanning over two decades. With zero signs of slowing down.
The Source caught up with the Bronx, New York native as he dished on his new projects, the possibility of a “New York Undercover” reboot and more on the set on his new thriller, Til Death Do Us Part in Los Angeles. – Angela Wilson
We’re here in the beautiful Woodland Hills on set of your new project- what can you tell us about it?
It’s a new movie called “Til Death Do Us Part,” directed by Chris Stokes and Marques Houston and it’s a nice crew, we also got Stephen Bishop, Robinne Lee and Taye Diggs. So we got a nice ensemble.
How did you get involved with the film?
I got an email saying I got an offer to do a film. *laughs*
Those are the best emails- the ones that say someone wants to give you some money. I was finishing up “Designated Survivor” and got this email about a month ago. After figuring out the dates we were able to make it work. I’m also doing this new TV show, “Seven Seconds.”
[In the series,] Regina King plays a woman who’s child is killed by the police- ran over by a cop car and the cops are trying to cover it up. I play a guy that meets her in bereavement group, trying to counsel her through her loss.
That’s a very sensitive subject now in this social climate we’re in…
It’s a common theme now with shows like “Shots Fired” and “Rebel” and “Dear White People.” I feel like people are getting more “woke” as they say. And it’s ended up in our material, which is nice to see.
One thing I like about you Malik is that you keep is moving- from Jason of “Designated Survivor” to Vernon of “Empire,” you don’t let nothing stop you…
God is good. I can’t take any credit. I just show up- and it’s not an easy business but somehow you stay in the flow. The flow is about- this young man (Randy C. Bonds.) He’s one of my heroes, he doesn’t know it though. But he is. I met him when he was 12, I was the first celebrity he ever met. We re-connected in 2011 and now he’s my publicist. We encourage each other. It’s a brother hood.
I’m a proud 80s baby and my first introduction to you was from “New York Undercover.” Why was that show such a classic?
I just think that it was the timing. The thing about history is you can look back on it and have a different perspective. You don’t know you’re making history when you’re in the middle of it.
The 90’s was a special time- we were young and hungry and trying to stake our claim in the culture, and hip hop was a big part of that.
It’s great for me- 23 years later to be apart of a show that people still talk about with such fondness, you can’t ask for more than that. And I think about my career- there’s certain things I’ve been apart of that helped shaped culture and impacted in a great way.
Can we get a reboot?
People ask for it, but I don’t see the producers making it a priority. They certainly could, but they haven’t.
Would you be down?
I’ve been down, but right now I’m a little passed it. Shooting in New York is always amazing, I’m shooting “Seven Seconds” there. But just to shoot in NY, I’m just a happy camper. But we’ll see if it’s the right situation and with the right circumstances, I’d be open, because I really, really loved Detective J.C. Williams – he was one of my favorite characters.
What else do you have going on?
I got a lot going on- I produce a lot of stuff, still pushing my company Iconic 32, creating content, directing projects, doing some real estate development. Still doing corporate speaking as well. I just joined Big Speak for motivational speeches and as a workshop facilitator.
I do a lot of stuff around communication, cultural diversity, leadership- whether its for government organizations, corporate or schools – which is my background- Arts Education and helping people connect to each other and communicate better.
Is that your passion?
All of this is my passion. I typically don’t do anything I’m not passionate about. I’ve been fortunate in work and life I’ve never really had a job I begrudged. Even working as a waiter and bus boy working in some of New York’s finest restaurants as a kid or selling Icees on the street or being a bike messenger or working in retail, it’s always been stuff I wanted to do.
Photo credit: K&N Media