Malik Yoba strikes back at ‘Empire,’ talks activism

Photo courtesy of R.C. Bonds PR

Malik Yoba has always been an activist whose purpose was to give back to the community. Before he began his career as an actor, Yoba was a vice president at The City Kids Foundation. Rolling out spoke exclusively with Yoba about his work on “Empire” and other projects, and more importantly, his work as an activist.

Yoba is co-founder or Iconic32, a lifestyle company and innovation studio that aims to drive cultural movements for social good via pop culture. “It was a vision that was shared with me by Sergio Morales,” Yoba said of his co-founder, a veteran of corporate America who was seeking an endeavor that would feed his soul.

The Bronx, New York, native has and continues to use his celebrity to drive change using pop culture. “For us, the ‘pop’ in pop culture stands for person of purpose,” he says, adding, “the days of [celebrities] being fabulous for fabulous’ sake [are] gone in a day when someone can walk into a church and shoot it up.”

As far as his role on “Empire” and whether he knew the show would be so successful, Yoba says, “Absolutely, for me the urban tale and the DNA of the show was very familiar for me. I had little doubt,”

Yoba is, of course, referring to his role in the ’90s FOX series “New York Undercover.” “I thought it was a good opportunity to have a reunion and it turned into a funeral,” Yoba said of his return to FOX and his role as Vernon Turner, who was killed off during “Empire’s” first season.

Still, Yoba used the success of the show to fuel his charity work. He organized two “Empire” screenings that raised money for formerly incarcerated students. “It was less about ‘Empire’ and getting killed off. I really believe in this as my life’s purpose,” he says.

What was the inspiration behind these events?  “I get these downloads from God. I get visions for what to do and I have been being obedient,” Yoba says.

Next up for Yoba are roles in the upcoming film Paradox and the CBS series “Limitless,” but his more important work has always been done with organizations like the American Cancer Society, United Negro College Fund and now, Iconic22. Keep up with the wonderful things Yoba is doing at

Derrel Johnson
Derrel Johnson

Lover of Christ, sports, hip-hop, my native home of Harlem and much more. IG @JazzJohnson1 Twitter @JazzJohnson10 Facebook @JazzJohnson100

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