Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Renee Martin with fangsforthefantasy.com. Please proceed with your question.
Renee Martin: Hi Malik. Thanks so much for doing this.
Malik Yoba: Thank you. Thanks for the fantasy.
Renee Martin: I just wanted to say before I ask my question that, “You’re a large part of the reason I watch Alphas.”
Malik Yoba: Okay, thank you. Ego, stroke, stroke, ego, stroke, stroke. I’ll take it.
Renee Martin: Science fiction has a tendency to erase people of color, and when they are included, they’re usually token roles.
So one of the things that caught my attention right away was that Bill was actually the leader of the group and he wasn’t a token and he wasn’t overtaken by Cameron. I’m wondering how - if you feel that by taking part in this that you’re sort of moving things forward in the genre where we’ll begin to see more inclusive roles for marginalized people?
Malik Yoba: Well the good thing is we shoot the show in Canada. So you mentioned Cameron right? Warren Christie is a Canadian, and we shoot with a Canadian crew. And so it’s interesting even just dealing with the whole race politic question shooting in Canada, which - because it doesn’t come up.
I am often the only black dude on set, but I don’t think about it, I don’t feel it, we don’t talk - you know it’s - and not out of like no one’s aware but - we are but, what I like is that were professionals and people who care about a particular product and project. And so we work really well collaboratively to make the best show possible where that really never comes up, so that’s interesting in and of itself.
Second part for me is I’ve been in this game for 20 years as a professional and I’ve been doing it since I was in elementary school. And for me it was just - you - my father always said, “Build your own generator so when they turn off the power you still have light.”
So throughout my career I’ve had other things that I initiate on my own as a man, but I happen to be a black man. So I say all that to say that conversation about being groundbreaking or, you know, the opportunities or lack of opportunities, at the end of the day this is a really, really hard business no matter what - who you are.
And I say all that to say, like we just have to continue to have the conversation about doing our own shit, like I write, I direct, I produce, I’m working on my own film right now. In fact I’m shooting a trailer for my film, What’s on the Hearts of Men, which is going to be a very diverse audience because I also understand international distribution doesn’t just look like black people and I understand the challenges of selling us internationally.
But while I’m shooting a series I’m directing my own piece and no one else in the cast is doing that because one, that’s just not where their head is. But that’s my determination, you know, I’m pushing to direct the third season of Alphas and I have full support of production, you know, in this endeavor of my entrepreneurial pursuits, so that really is the question. And the answer for me is like, “We can’t keep talking about the opportunities we don’t have if we don’t work really hard to create our own luck.”
And if I - and having some perspective, you know, when I was a kid I gave my teacher my autograph when I was 13 and told them I was going to be famous. And I was in the Drama Club from elementary school to high school performing arts programs, and worked at the Negro Ensemble Company as a 16 year old and did all that and have all that kind of perspective.
And at the end of the day the thing that I feel has contributed to my ability to continue to work in this business, and I feel like my career has largely about hitting singles, right, if this is a game, and by staying in the game I still hit 300.
And I think the biggest part is because I don’t think about what is impossible, you know. And that’s one of the things I love about Tyler Perry, you know, having worked with Tyler, having known Tyler before he did he first films. Knowing him from the play game. That’s an example of - he - there’s one thing about him, is that it doesn’t matter what he doesn’t know, it doesn’t matter that he didn’t go to film school, it doesn’t matter that he didn’t get a degree in writing from some place.
For everything he doesn’t know how to do from a film making perspective, he just does it anyway. And he wins. And that - and people support that. And I think that’s how we shift this whole conversation about what we have or don’t have. Because here’s somebody who wasn’t even in the game that changed the game.
Renee Martin: Okay. And if I could just ask one last question. I know that you also sing, so I was wondering, are we at some point going to see a softer side of Bill where…
Malik Yoba: I hope so, I was hoping to actually…
Renee Martin: Will the writers will incorporate that?
Malik Yoba: But no, I definitely - actually recently go some music placed on the show, but not my actual music, just some artists that I’m working with. But that, I definitely plan to do more of that, so thank you.
I, you know what, since you said it, I’m going to have to think of - we’re not done filming yet, so I’m going to work it in somehow girl. Work it into this last episode.
Renee Martin: Thank you, I’d appreciate that.
Well thank you for your time.
Malik Yoba: Yes, thank you.
Erin Willard: Hi, thanks so much for being on the call today.
Malik Yoba: Thank you.
Erin Willard: And congratulations on a terrific season premiere. I really liked it a lot.
Malik Yoba: You enjoy that?
Erin Willard: Absolutely, yes. It was (unintelligible)…
Malik Yoba: All the action?
Erin Willard: …action and - absolutely. It was neat. And that’s actually kind of what I wanted to ask you about. It seemed - I know it’s the season premiere and that’s always a little bit different, but it seemed like there was a lot more intensity, a lot more action in the season premiere. Is that going to carry out throughout the season?
Malik Yoba: Not necessarily. I think that - and you know, the writers probably could speak more to it, and the director of that. But I think that the goal was to try to start it with a bang, literally.
So and it still, even to us like you know, Season 2 is a bit almost like, you know, doing a mini-pilot again, you know, you have to kind of set up who’s who, where we are. And obviously we were a little disjointed so there was the process of creating a team all over again but.
Yes, there’s some good action coming up though. I get beat up quite a few times, which I don’t really appreciate but you know. The good thing is I can always - I just look at the production manager and go, “Please schedule a massage for tomorrow.”
Erin Willard: Nice. So will we be seeing a Bill-centric episode or story arc this season?
Malik Yoba: Not - yes, I don’t know why I was saying no. We’re on 13 right now so it’s been a while. But yes, I think the season actually kind of opens with Bill-centric, at least certainly for the first couple episodes, I think that the Bill storyline, we kind of get right into where Bill’s at, where we left him and where he is now and how - you know, what state he’s in.
Without giving away too much, I was definitely like, “What, really? All right,” that kind of thing. But yes, it’s been good. It’s been good though.
Erin Willard: Great. And you’re - are you done shooting now for the season or it’s still on?
Malik Yoba: No, we’re on 13 right now.
Erin Willard: All right. Well thanks so much and I will…
Malik Yoba: Okay, cool.
Erin Willard: I’ll make room for somebody else.
Malik Yoba: Okay.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Jamie Ruby with scifivision.com. Please proceed with your question.
Jamie Ruby: Hi, thanks so much for talking to us today. Can you talk about what the most challenging part of your role is?
Malik Yoba: Not looking like I did when I was 26. You laugh with me. Actually you know, the fact that we started the season off with a lot of action and a lot of physical stuff, for me.
I had an experience that I never had before on set where I turned to Warren Christie’s character one day - not his character, but to Warren, we were shooting the episode that I think is Number 3, where Bill goes into a fight club. And I had like 3 fight scenes in a week, more in 2 days or something like that, during a week of shooting. It was very, very physical and I remember, and I was really tired and I turned Warren and I was like, “Dude, I think I’m going to cry right now.”
So like there was a literal physical challenge for me. But it’s great because I am 45 and you know, I work hard to stay fit. And so the physical challenges are there. I think that’s probably it.
And I think sometimes, you know, just making sure that you know collectively, meaning writers, directors, all the actors, everyone is working to keep one vision when you have so many moving pieces, you know? And with so many characters I think we’re still in a place where, you know, sometimes we have to just - that presents its own like creative challenges.
But those are good because I think that as a result of it, everybody contributes to making the moments the best that they can be, first when they’re on the page, and then when you’re on set and you’re in a moment.
And you know, you might have something that, you know, you were actually challenged by in that moment like, “Okay, how are we going to make this work? Where’s the logic here? Who should do what? How do we,” you know.
And I think that’s the part - or at least for me, that I really, really love, you know. Because out of that comes the thing that people enjoy. So whatever the challenges are, it’s always good because we meet them and then I think we have some level of success.
Jamie Ruby: Okay great. And how are you most like and most different your character?
Malik Yoba: I think Bill is shorter and I think the fact that Bill is a former agent and comes to the group as a person with a certain expertise in, you know, law enforcement and you know, protocol and procedure and all that kind of stuff, I think you know, I had a scene with the three women in the show the other day and I was like, “This is like Daddy mode,” and I am a dad so you know, how I was talking to them was how I’d talk to my kids.
So I think there are those times when just as a man and an authoritative figure, you have to sort of take a position that could feel very, very familiar. But I try in this particular case, you know, I definitely don’t feel that I’m often times like tapping into like Malik stuff to play Bill, if that makes sense, other than like…
Jamie Ruby: Yes. All right, thank you so much.
Malik Yoba: Well I was going to say other than humor. I think that humor is a really important element of our show. And so just I always try to also work from that place of, “Wouldn’t this be funny if…”