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JET Exclusive: Malik Yoba Slams Rumors

UPDATE 4:40pm cst.: Since the publishing of JET’s article, the Inquisitor has retracted their previous commentary.

For the last two decades, Malik Yoba has been working the entertainment industry. And contrary to some people’s belief, the Empire star’s career did not slow following the end of  cult cop classic, NY Undercover. However, since childhood, he has felt a responsibility to be a public servant and use the arts to uplift opportunity and community. That work is evident in the implementation of iconic32, a platform that is known for utilizing popular culture for social good.

As a cast member of Empire, the platform was given yet another avenue to grow.

As part of Radio One’s St. Louis Radiothon for Ferguson Relief, he served as a co-host and provided a screening of the second episode, which raised an additional $6,000 for the Urban League Save Our Sons program and hosted a charity viewing party for the season finale of Empire for the Prison To College Pipeline Program at John Jay College Of Criminal Justice.

But recently, Yoba experienced the darker side of his association with Empire.  After an unexpected (and seemingly irreversible) exit during the season finale, ugly rumors abounded and attacks on his personal character hit the blogosphere.

JET is not one to spread rumors, so we went straight to the source. Here’s what he told us in this exclusive one-on-one:

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.

JET: And of course, the headlines are gaining more attention because Empire has come to be such a huge success.

Malik Yoba: Well, yeah. If you have something that’s a highly rated show, you’re easier to become a target. If this were a show that nobody cared about this wouldn’t even be a conversation.

JET: What is most disheartening  aspect of the situation and how have you been able to deal with it?

Malik Yoba:The saddest part is that the same publications and radio stations that will ask you to interview to promote something you’re doing…they never called, never reached out to me to see if any of it is true, but people want to promote it for quick views and likes. The people who will smile in your face, call you their brother and say they support you are the same one’s who will go and promote these untruths. I pray for them all.

And so it’s just a sad commentary on the world we live in right now. In over two decades in this business or at any time before I’ve never ever had this type of negativity spoken or written about me. And it’s unfortunate because I have children. I take care of a family through what I do. And unfortunately, people have no regards for that. I’ve chosen to stay in my lane. I know what I’m about. I know what God I serve. I know why I’m here. A wise man said to me years ago – using a football analogy: “They can only hit you if you’re carrying the ball.” And clearly, I have a mission and I’ve been true to that mission for over 30 years and a history and legacy of service –that’s how I’m dealing with it.

JET: As you mentioned earlier, throughout your career there has never been negative press, especially to this extent. Do you think it will affect your next moves or do you believe that remaining true to your core, what’s right for you and the opportunities that are for you will still present themselves?

Malik Yoba: I truly believe that what’s for you, won’t go past you.

A true testament to that, you can catch Malik in the upcoming Queen Latifah produced “Brotherly Love” out April 24th and he is currently in LA filming the action-thriller “Paradox.”  And for more about Yoba’s life journey read our Moment of Clarity writer’s intense interview with him HERE.