Malik Yoba: Actor and activist talks new play and pledge to help ’empower young people’

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Malik Yoba has many titles to his name – he is an actor, activist, producer, performer, mentor, musician and teacher – which makes it an easily convincing case when he says he is one busy man.

Yoba’s 30+ acting credits have solidified his status as a distinguished Hollywood actor. He has starred in a number of hit TV shows and movies including his groundbreaking role in the drama series New York Undercover along with films like Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married? and its sequel.

One of his first ever acting roles was in 1993’s Disney film Cool Runnings, which celebrated it’s 20th anniversary last year.

However, one of Yoba’s first passions was in theater — he became a member of The Metropolitan Opera’s Children’s Theater Guild at the age of 13 and joined The Negro Ensemble Company at 16.

Now, the New York city born and bred actor is returning to the stage in a new play titled, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.

The play is a contemporary adaptation of Alan Sillitoe’s classic 1962 British film about a young boy and his journey of self-discovery as he battles barriers and overcomes obstacles.

The production is currently playing at the Atlantic Theater Company’s Stage 2 in New York City through Feb. 9. 

Aside from his new play, Yoba keeps busy with his heavy involvement in youth activism and mentoring. He has educated and inspired urban youth through a variety of projects encouraging them to express themselves creatively and reach their full potential.

During his interview with theGrio, Yoba announced his latest project, “The Pledge to Creativity” – a new initiative encouraging youth to use their talent and skills towards a more productive and creative outlet, whether it be through fashion, art, technology or music.

“It’s something that I’m really, really excited about and it allows me to bring all of my skill sets together…to work in schools, to empower young people with this pledge and bringing influences together,” he said.

Check out the video above as theGrio’s Lilly Workneh sits down with the actor and discusses his new play and project.

Follow Lilly Workneh on Twitter @Lilly_Works