[INTERVIEW] Malik Yoba Chats New Role on 'Alphas'

Malik Yoba won’t tell us what his special power might be should he have, well, the power. It’s a question he’s been asked about for the last year, given that on his SyFy series Alphas, he plays Bill Harken, a hyperadrenal Alpha (an everyday person with a very special physical ability), who also is a former FBI agent.

It’s the one consistent question that reporters ask him. But he won’t budge during this EBONY.com interview.

“You’re better than that, come on,” he teases.

Truth is, Yoba is a cerebral type. With the 44-year-old actor, you’re not getting a guy who just shows up, runs his lines and goes back to his trailer.

You’re getting an entrepreneur. Someone who knows the ins and out of this business. Someone who thinks about the best ways to market the series – and does whatever is in his power to make sure the word is out there.

Perhaps that’s one reason his series hits TV tonight for the second season.

And with a lot more hard work—and using more elbow grease than the next actor – he’s hoping it will be around for a lot longer.

The show’s second season premiered last night on the SyFy Channel.

EBONY: You’re coming back for the second season, but what enticed you about the series to begin with?

Malik Yoba: I thought the script was cool. This was actually my eleventh series and having gone down the road many times -- and obviously most people aren’t really aware of how many series I’ve actually done, cause they never make it out of the starting gate, generally. What has happened is that either first season and they get canceled or we shoot a whole season, no one sees it, that kind of thing. But I read the script, thought it was cool even though I said no to it a couple of times to my agents. I just wasn’t interested in leaving New York … but I met with the director of the pilot and I thought he was pretty dynamic individual and we got in a room and did some work and then that was it.

EBONY: Have you played in the science fiction world before?

MY: As an actor there’s … nothing I wouldn’t do except for abuse children or rape women. That’s just not something that I’m interested in, from a character perspective. From a genre perspective and a character perspective, you know, sky’s the limit. And part of the problem with this business is its perception. From a genre perspective, the show I did right before this was sci-fi. I did a show called Defying Gravity and that was the reason why I didn’t want to do Alphas, because I had just spent six months in 2009 in Vancouver shooting a series and nobody saw it. So now … I don’t approach the work just as an actor, I look at it from a production standpoint, a producer standpoint, from a marketing standpoint, from a directing standpoint, I look at the whole thing, 360 degrees of a project. I shoot behind-the-scenes stuff, put it online, put it on Youtube, put it on Twitter to get a viral campaign going.

EBONY: That is so above and beyond what a lot of actors do when they’re a part of series or TV shows or even stage productions. Can you talk a little bit about why you’re making that a part of the job description for yourself?

MY: It’s always been the job description for me, because I never came to the game as an actor, I came to the game as an entrepreneur, as an artist, as a musician, as a producer, as a writer, as a community activist. I’ve always thought like that. Even when I did New York Undercover … I put together a five-year marketing and promotional campaign to maximize the exposure of that show. That show – I was 26 years old at the time – and that show, you never saw a billboard for that show, you never saw a t-shirt, you never saw anything and in spite of it, the show still was huge within certain segments of the population. There’s not a day that goes by, not a day, ever, in the last 18 years, that someone isn’t asking me about New York Undercover. Literally down to, ‘Are you still shooting? When the new episodes coming out? When’s the new show coming out? Why don’t you do the movie? When’s the DVD coming out? Why don’t they bring it back?’ That’s every day.

EBONY: What does that say to you as an actor?

MY: … that it’s like Bambi. It’s like, you know, congrats you’re part of something that means something. Sweet.

EBONY: What do you think worked right with this show that wasn’t necessarily in place with the other series that were canceled?

MY: