*Malik Yoba is a household name in the African American community. Many of us still pine for “New York Undercover,” a favorite television show of our youth. But you can’t simply lock him into that role. Malik has been in such quality works as Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married” franchise as well as the “Girlfriends” and “Defying Gravity” television series. Recently our Lee Bailey sat down and spoke with him about his role in the highly-anticipated Syfy cable network series “Alphas.” Yoba says he initially rejected the script at first glance thinking it was just another cop role.
“At first I mistook it for another series where I was asked to play law enforcement,” he explained. “I said I’m not interested. Then my manager and agents were like ‘You should read it’. When I actually read it and got it I thought it was kind of cool. I thought I got it when I read the script, but I really got it when I read it at the first table reading in Canada, after I was hired. Which happens. I’ve read things that I’ve written that I think I get, then I pick up and read it a year later and it speaks to me in a different way. A lot of times when you think you’re writing you’re actually channeling. You think you’re in control of your writing and you’re actually not.”
In the series Yoba plays a FBI agent with a strange attribute who is teamed with other individuals with similarly strange attributes.
“The character is Bill Hartman. He’s an FBI agent who has been put under the care of Dr. Rosen, who is studying him because he has this brain anomally,” Yoba explained. “It just so happens that all of these people under the doctor’s care collectively have the ability to help solve these crimes that law enforcement agencies haven’t been able to figure out. But we don’t always voluntarily know what we’re doing. So, as part of our ‘care’ under the doctor, he might tell us to go do X,Y,Z. He’ll tell us to go check out a case. Me, being the only one with law enforcement training, I always take exception to it. You’re asking me to hang out with these numbskulls who don’t have any police training or anything. But, it turns out that one of them has a hyperactive sense of smell, sight or hearing. The austistic kid who is with the group is 16 years old and still lives with his Mom. Because of his autism, which actually leans more towards Aspergers, he can read data from any electronic device. It’s an interesting motley crew that has value when they come together.”
And what of his “superpower?”
“I can activate my fight or flight response, which isn’t always a good thing,” Yoba explained. “Part of the reason my character was reassigned is I was in the Bureau talking to a guy, and next thing I know his arm’s broken in three places. That’s how I realize that I have this ability, and I look to get it checked out. That’s not normal. So, he’s put under the care of the doctor. Over the course of the season we find out how each of them got one.”
As mentioned in the opening paragraph of this story, Malik Yoba is a household name in the African American community because he has had many roles that we loved, and a few we despised. With Syfy, Yoba has the opportunity to get acquainted with a whole new audience.
“I don’t know why people watch what they watch,” joked Yoba. “You just put good stuff out there and let people decide what they watch.” Sounds like another quality piece of work from a quality dude. If you’re waitng for more big screen offerings from Yoba then you may wish to check out “Recall,” which he stars in alongside Bow Wow. “It’s a military movie about a group of National Guard soldiers that are heading off to Iraq. Right before they leave one of the soldiers decides to go AWOL because he has a terminally ill son and he wants to stay with him. He’s denied a compassionate reassignment so he’s going to handle things his way. It’s a really, really well written piece and I thought it was directed really well. I think that Michael Connors will be a writer/director people really pay attention to.”
Michael Connors, huh? We’ll keep you posted on that as more details come through. In the meantime “Alphas” premieres on Syfy on tonight, Monday, July 11 at 10/9C. Our inner-nerd can’t wait to check it out. For more information on the show log on to syfy.com.