Most people remember this handsome familiar face from Cool Runnings, New York Under Cover, Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married and Why Did I Get Married Too, and Empire. What you see is what you get, he is very charming and charismatic. Malik has been around for many years doing a variety of things and has acted in many different TV shows and films. He is a phenomenal singer as well with such a lovely voice that melts your heart. Aside from that, he is doing much more. A co-founder of Iconic 32, a lifestyle company and innovation studio that drives cultural movements for social good via pop culture. We talked about a variety of things, check out the interview below. He is amazing! Malik wants people to “love each other, stop hating, turn it inward bring it out.”
You’ve been around for a long time, various different roles on TV and the Big Screen, what made you decide you wanted to be an actor?
I saw Alice in Wonderland when I was 4 years old on stage, that was it. I grew up doing theater in New York.
How did you land your first big role in Cool Runnings?
There was an open call, they needed one. A friend told me about the audition, I went on the last day and I was the last person they saw. I did some improv, two months in I got a call from Disney. Tupac was there, Omar Epps, Jeffrey Wright, Lawrence Hilton – Jacobs, they auditioned as well.
I know you’ve mentioned bringing back a current NY Undercover, any update on that?
At the moment, there’s some chatter, but that’s about it. The most recent development was potentially a reality show based on real NY Undercover which could bring the brand back.
What was it like working with Janet Jackson on Why Did I Get Married?
She is great, we have a great relationship. I really enjoyed it. We worked well together.
How was your experience on Empire?
My experience on Empire was wonderful.
What are you focused on now?
I produce, I direct, I write, I’m working on developing a number of tv properties, some digital stuff, podcasts. I have a podcast launching soon ‘Making of an Icon”, an entrepreneurial podcast that shines the light on the process of success, more granular. In business what are the steps to greatness for emerging icons and established icons. I’ve never just been an actor, I’m focused on so much more. I’m grateful!
Tell us about your company; Iconic 32, elaborate on “using pop culture to promote social good.”
It means that we have to meet people where they are. We live in a world where people are distracted by their smartphones, social media, then in books, libraries or with their families and loved ones. How do you take things that are important and infuse them in to everyday experiences. For example, clothing, what does it mean, is it a fashion item or is a material that is giving back to the rainforest. Those stories are more important to me, just meeting people where they are and making it more purposeful. We do something called The Iconic 32 Pop Culture Summit, which is a gathering of socially conscious entrepreneurs. This year it’s October 1st and 2nd. We have a partnership with The Reynolds School of Social Entrepreneurship at NYU and with John J College Criminal Justice. Having iconic individuals there that are doing great things. Look at Pharrell, his deal with G Star, saving the oceans through fashion, that’s the new sexy.
Describe a day in the life of Malik Yoba.
Never the same. I’m always on the go with purpose.
What advice do you have for people interested in an acting career?
It is in art form, a craft. Make sure you study. You don’t want to just be an actor. Learn to do it all. Write, direct, produce. Commit yourself to learning everything. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t just do it for fame or money. Do it because you have something to say, you have a gift that you need to share not just want to share.
Lakers or Golden State?
I like greatness. We celebrate Kobe retiring. He scored 60 points in his last game. That’s the result of his hard work. I inspire to be like a Steph Curry. I prefer greatness. I’m a NY fan for sure, but I’m a Patriots fan on the low.
What are your plans for the rest of 2016?
Iconic 32, we’re a lifestyle company. We have quite a bit to do on the consulting and marketing side. We have quite a bit to do on experiential side. Podcast, start recording on the 19th. In rehearsals for my solo show, “Harlem to Hollywood,” which is a one man show where I tell the story to this point of my journey, set in a therapist office which is important. I’m a big fan of self reflection and self development. I’m directing a film, 7 Fishes, which is like a My Big Fat Greek Wedding but with an Italian American family. I’m about to direct a video for an amazing young artist named Raphael, she’s 20 years old, she has the potential to be an Adele, amazing singer, songwriter, model. Directing a project called Little Brother, documenting about young African Americans and their perception of live, the series was created by a documentary filmmaker Nicole Franklin. We wanted to create a project that could help shift peoples perception. I just finished a film for TV One, right now called Dead Beat Dad, great cast, great plot. I started a foundation for fathers 18 years ago when my first daughter was born. Omar Epps and I both were executive producers on a film called Daddy Don’t Go, a documentary. I’m about to start filing a movie in June, in Jamaica. I just had an independent movie released called Paradox, a time travel psychological thriller.
Interviewer: Heather “B” Montgomery