After spending five seasons on New York Undercover, Malik Yoba has another modern TV classic on his hands with SyFy’s series Alphas. The 45-year-old actor chatted with BET.com about playing the role of Bill Harken, a former FBI agent with powerful physical abilities. He also weighed in on the beef between Drake and Chris Brown, shared why he’s not a huge Soul Plane fan and whether he’d ever take part in a New York Undercover movie.
On Alphas, you occasionally get superhuman strength. What’s most fun about playing Bill Harken?
I think every boy wants to be a superhero, as a kid I wanted to have powers. For me, as far as television and film go, this is one of the most complete characters I’ve played. I get to be funny, there’s action, which is a lot of fun, there’s a bit of romance on the show, too. Aside from when I did New York Undercover, when I played JC Williams, this is probably my second favorite character I’ve portrayed.
What are two things you’d do if you actually had alpha powers?
I’d speak and understand every language in the world and I’d eliminate all the drama between men and women. I’d give men the ability to understand and be empathetic toward women and vice versa so we’d have no conflict. I could save the world with that one.
Wow, that’s a really good one. But we might lose the romantic comedy genre in films…
That’s part of the problem as far as I’m concerned. [Laughs] People think it’s a movie when it’s real life.
You’ll be directing this season on Alphas and you just wrote and directed your first feature film. How did you decide what subject matter you wanted to tackle?
Well, I wanted to make a great film, not just slap something up there. A friend and I were talking about Soul Plane the other day and she said, "I like it!" And I said, "I’m sure you do but I would never make that movie." For me, to be regarded as a serious filmmaker, you have to make films and tell stories that really matter.
What’s the name of your film and its premise?
It's called What’s on the Hearts of Men and it asks the question, "How do you know when you become a man?" It documents a young man's journey into manhood and masculinity. And it also reflects my journey into manhood being young and being famous. It reminds me of Chris Brown and Drake, two young men that I’ve had interactions with.
And their reported recent fight?
Yeah. The first time I met Chris he came up to me while we were both checking into the Beverly Hilton Hotel. He gives me a hug and says, "I’ve always admired you and always wanted to meet you." It was a real sweet moment, because I had never met him before. Same thing with Drake. I was at a club in Toronto shooting Alphas, he was there with his entourage and he came over to introduce himself. So those two guys got into a fight. When I watch young dudes that have access and make money it makes me think how do we define manhood? Is it beating each other with bottles in a club? There’s so much more to that conversation that needs to be had, because so many young dudes out here are still trying to figure it out.
21 Jump Street got rebooted for the big screen. If they do the same for New York Undercover, would you be on board?
I’ve been trying to do that for years. The script has been done for years. I would absolutely love to do the film. There’s not a day in my life that goes by that people don’t ask me that question. From a pure business standpoint, it’s a brand that continues to make money. It’s on Centric and it’s been in syndication since 1998. There’s an audience that would run to theaters to see it. I’m still strong and dynamic enough [to star in it], so absolutely.
Back to Alphas, why should the BET.com audience watch?
Because I'm Black and I'm Black Entertainment Television damn it! [Laughs] Just kidding. I think we have a good, entertaining show and that's why people watch TV. So if you haven't seen Alphas yet, catch up and watch.
The second season of Alphas premieres July 23 at 10 p.m./9C on SyFy.
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(Photo: Courtesy Syfy)
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