*Actor and community activist Malik Yoba hosts the all new season of TV One’s “Justice By Any Means.” The one-hour re-enactment crime and justice series guides viewers through the horrific and heroic tales of family members, friends and good Samaritans whose relentless pursuit of justice resulted in retribution for crimes committed on the victims the law forgot.
EUR/Electronic Urban Report caught up with Yoba to talk about his passion for injustice, and find out how he prevents himself from becoming overwhelmed with heavy emotions or sadness after reporting about these crimes and the dark side of human nature.
“In presenting the information on screen, the thing I try to do is not just sound like a narrator and just present the information as just exposition,” he said, “but really try to humanize it in my delivery. I think it’s a very subtle thing but it’s something that I was conscious of to not sound like these other shows that I hear where it’s here’s the information in a very sort of dry and flat delivery. I tried to emote a little bit through the presentation and I hope that comes across.”
Check out the rest our Q&A with Malik below.
“Justice By Any Means” explores fears that many people have, and in some cases, relives similar horrors and tragedies that many people have experienced. Does the show feature a particular story that resonated with you in any way?
Malik: I think they all touch you. I think the one thing they have in common is just the dark side of human nature, and the parts that I relate to the most are the parts around how average people will stand up on behalf of… ya know — ordinary people do extraordinary things. That part, I think, is the most redeeming part about telling these stories. Every single one of them, some person decided that, ‘You know what? I don’t care what the system isn’t doing. I’m going to be an active participant in making sure justice is served.’ And I think that’s a good lesson because ya know, I’ve been in situations in the streets of not just New York, but other cities — I’ve seen crimes being committed. I’ve seen people be beat. I’ve been shot. I’ve been in situations where, ya know — taking guns out of kids hands literally walking down the street. And kids in the middle of a fight… ya know, 14-year-olds handing a 9mm to another kid, and literally grabbed the gun. So I’m not saying people have to be that person, but I think that we often should be active participants in ways that most people choose to not.
How do you prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed with heavy emotions after presenting these stories about the dark side of human nature?
Malik: When I first was asked to do the show, Brad Siegel, who is the president of TV One asked me to do it. After we worked together on Bad Dad Rehab. He saw my passion for community, and even that film was about fathers and father participation and men standing up and doing the right thing — and ya know… just passionate about connecting it to real life community organizations that address these issues. So when he extended the invitation, they sent over the list of stories that would be covered and that was my moment to go, ‘Damn, really? This is crazy. I can’t believe….’ cause some of them I heard about, some I didn’t. And so, this all happened in the summer, with all the hoopla over cops killing black folks, and black folks ultimately killing cops, we don’t here these stories. And these are heinous crimes of black people. This is black on black crime, for the most part. And so, that was my moment to feel any emotion around, ‘Wow… this is tough. This is unfortunate.’
How do you prepare to host a show like this? Did you have to meet with these victims of crime or speak with detectives involved with the cases that you explore?
Malik: No. I did have an opportunity to meet with one of the family members. In one case, there was the story of a women out of Queens who was killed by her boyfriend, and she comes from a very-very close family. The entire family, I think there were nine siblings, they all got involved with the investigation and ultimately found that the guilty party was the boyfriend. And the charge was led by her brother, and I got to meet him. He actually came to set and we shot the show with him in it. We have about six more episodes to shoot, so I might have the opportunity to meet some other folks.
You’re an educator and facilitator of leadership programs to encourage and improve the lives of young people, has there ever been a moment where you had to break the news of a tragedy to a victim’s friends or family?
Malik: I’m someone who believes in… my father always said if there’s a crack, fill it. So if I see injustice, it could be large or small… My son’s in a sports program where he feels that leadership is unkind to the kids, and he was nervous about saying anything because he didn’t want to get in trouble. I had a very teachable moment with my 14-year-old and his mom. We have to put him in a position where he’s going to feel uncomfortable but he has to stand up for what’s right. And it’s not just going to impact him. It’s going to impact the other kids in the program. So I’m not going to accept that he’s just nervous about what the repercussion will be. He has to do the right thing, and my father taught me that and it’s important for me to teach my kids that.
What are you hoping viewers are left thinking at the end of each episode?
Malik: That they too can be involved, whether it’s helping. I just think that people aren’t active participants enough in the lives of others. Obviously I’m biased because I’m passionate, but I just think that if we could all be a little more mindful of each other, the world will be a much better place.
Tune in to “Justice By Any Means” Mondays at 10/9c on TV One.