Malik Yoba discusses Awake, Harlem to Hollywood, and much more

Awake -- Acquired via ThinkJam
Awake -- Acquired via ThinkJam /

You’ll recognize Malik Yoba for his roles in Cool Runnings, God Friended Me, Designated Survivor, and much more. He talks with Hidden Remote exclusively about his new movie, Awake.

Most of you will recognize the name Malik Yoba. This is an actor who got his start in one of the greatest movies ever made, Cool Runnings. Since then, he’s done a variety of projects, whether it’s acting, in music, or behind the lens. His most recent movie, Awake, has been released on Digital and VOD today, and it’s something fans of a classic thriller will want to check out.

During this exclusive chat with Hidden Remote, Yoba talked about the character and the movie. He shared why this movie was one he chose to do and the types of roles and projects that he loves doing.

Hidden Remote: Awake has such an amazing cast and there are some intriguing characters. What can you tell me about your character, Frank Ward?

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Malik Yoba: Frank is an FBI agent, who is at a crossroads at his career. He’s been on and off the wagon and is chasing down a serial killer in Oklahoma. In order to close this case, he needs to rely on a local person who happens to be an old colleague of his that he reaches out to investigate this case with him.

They go on this journey together to find out who’s behind these murders. We learn that he ends up in a compromised position as he tries to figure out what’s going on with this relationship with his dear friend he’s relied on to help him.

It’s a classic whodunnit kind of things with a little bit of a twist.

HR: Yeah, there’s the twist of the person you think may have done it has no memory of it.

Yoba: Exactly. It kind of sounds like my life.

Awake — Acquired via ThinkJam
Awake — Acquired via ThinkJam /

HR: Your character doesn’t sound like the squeaky clean FBI agent.

Yoba: No, he’s definitely not squeaky clean. That’s what made it interesting for me as well. Every time you can play a flaw in the hero type, it’s a good thing. Nobody is ever all one way or another.

HR: Do his flaws make him a better agent or hinder him?

Yoba: Don’t flaws always make us better? I don’t know!

HR: So, you mentioned the flaws, but what was it that initially drew you into this role?

Yoba: I have this thing about receiving offers with a lot of gratitude. I’m grateful for all of it, whether the offers come after an audition or as a straight offer. This was a straight offer. I’ve played law enforcement about 16 or 17 times, people will generally reach out because they’ve seen me do that type of thing and they need that.

It was a combination of things, like the two Russian directors that I thought was kind of cool. I’d never worked with Russia directors before. Also, the casting director was a big fan. It’s always nice to do work you love and with people who want to work with you.

I think for Awake it was a combination of everything, the people, the script, the directors, everything.

HR: So, since it was law enforcement again, am I right in saying you didn’t need to do a lot of preparation for the role, then?

Yoba: No, I didn’t. I now train cops how to be cops.

That’s a true story! I train them around diversity and bias and that kind of stuff.

I’ve played FBI enough times. If there is something specific I’ll dig in and do a little research, but not for this role.

HR: You have got such a diverse portfolio with Cool RunningsDesignated SurvivorGod Friended Me,  and so much more. Do you have a particular role that you like or do you prefer diversity?

Yoba: My life as an actor has been interesting. Currently, I’m directing a docuseries that I’m passionate about, about real estate, my journey, and New York City. I’m taking a group of young people along with me and exposing them to the process, teaching them about both film and the real estate business, doing deals.

I’m an entrepreneur; I’m a storyteller; yes, I’m an actor; I’m a musician; I’m a lot of things. It’s interesting when I get asked that question about types of roles. I love acting and great writing. It doesn’t matter as long as it’s great and I feel I can bring humanity, fun, and perspective to it and if it’s challenging.

I have a one-man show I do called Harlem to Hollywood where I play almost 20 characters. That, to me, is the ultimate because it’s such a challenge. I guess that’s the answer to your question.

HR: Are there any other projects you have coming up that you would like your fans to look out for?

Yoba: Yes! We have First Wives Club on BET. There’s New York Undercover and, of course, Harlem to Hollywood and the docuseries I’ve mentioned. There are others, but we’ll go with them for now.

HR: You’re a busy man.

Yoba: God bless; yes ma’am.

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Check out Awake on Digital and VOD now and will be out on DVD and Blu-ray on Sept. 24.