JET: Mr. Yoba, Thank you for taking the time to speak to us and clarify some things. The negativity is building and the headlines are spinning out of control. Where do you think this negativity is stemming from since the season finale of Empire?

Malik Yoba: Being a part of Empire was a wonderful experience and opportunity to work with everyone involved. I’m proud to make TV history twice first with NY Undercover and now this phenomenal success. I’m still hoping to be involved somehow either through flashbacks or directing episodes. That was the level of conversation that was had with the producers and my cast mates before, during, and after shooting my final episode. My character was written off for creative purposes. That was the reality – I was informed that “a main character should die a shocking death” at the end of the first season while I was in Ferguson putting together the screening. I think that because I have 20-plus years in this business, I’ve been in roles that people really enjoy and I think there’s a desire to see more from the character but they didn’t get it. So everyone is left scratching their heads, saying, ‘well, why would they do that?’

I just find it really interesting the timing of negative press. We did a week of positive press during and following the show finale and then Saturday night this thing comes online, these accusations that clearly state in the article none of it is confirmed. If you look at the original article it says no sources have been confirmed yet, but that was enough to get people responding to a salacious headline and then re-posting it and re-distributing it without doing any fact checking.

I absolutely never had any issues with substance abuse; that’s not consistent with what I’m about. So, the fact that it’s just been circulating so wildly and irresponsibly is a sad fact and I think that it underscores, the reason and need for why we started iconic32, we use popular culture to promote social good and if you look at all of the interviews I’ve done, including earlier interviews with JET, it was all about how we’re supporting arts education programs through a number of our partnering foundations and to provide opportunities for young people to participate in something positive. So this is an example of why our company needs to exist: Because people, in this case, are happily using pop culture to promote something that is actually, quite evil.