I had the pleasure of interviewing multi-talented actor, writer and entrepreneur Allen Maldonado from ABC’s award-winning sitcom Black-ish. He recently developed and launched the industry’s first digital app for short films called Everybody Digital. You can catch Allen starring opposite Tracy Morgan in THE LAST O.G., his highly anticipated new series on TBS from Executive Producer Jordan Peele slated to premiere next year.
What is your “backstory”?
Allen Maldonado: I come from a single-parent home, being raised only by my mother in a rough patch of Rialto, CA. Though I had no male influence in my life, my mother would be all the parent I need to make a man out of me. I remember the day that changed my life like it was yesterday; I had just graduated high school at the age of 16 (I skipped a grade), and was hanging out with my boys outside while they played dice. I looked up and spotted a woman coming down the alley. There was just something about her that struck me and I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. I was staring so intently it felt like everyone around me disappeared. As the woman got closer, I noticed it was my mother, tired and exhausted. See, my mother is the strongest person I know. She had never let me see her vulnerable or weak, so to see how she really looked and felt when I wasn’t present broke my heart. That was the very minute I decided to change my life and focus on acting to support my family.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your acting/directing/performing career?
AM: Funny may not be the word, but interesting fits perfectly. Long story short, we were filming in South Central LA for a show called “Injustice” on FOX. I heard yelling and looked up to see a man and a PA getting into an argument. In the middle of the argument, the man began to shoot at the PA maybe a foot away from him! I saw the PA literally dodging the bullets then walk away without a scratch! It was crazy!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
AM: Everybody Digital, my short film app. It’s an honor that so quickly after launching, we’ve already been dubbed the “short film version of Netflix.” Being able to help other short film makers gain exposure and propel the lesser-known industry to new heights is very exciting.
Who are some of the most famous people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
AM: I starred opposite Denzel Washington in the “Equalizer,” so I would put him at the top of the list. He is an incredible person and I learned a lot just by watching him work. And we played catch! Lol! It was a real father/son moment on set.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
AM: Kobe Bryant. My love for basketball is part of it, but his work ethic is legendary. I hope to have people talk about how hard I work until it becomes an old folktale.
Who do you aspire to be like one day?
AM: The greatest ME that I can be. I challenge myself every day to be better than I was yesterday.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
AM: My foundation, Demo Nerds, is an acting camp for foster kids and at-risk youth. We are going on our 5-year anniversary of the program.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
AM: Invest in a publicist when the time is right. When I first joined the cast of “The Young and the Restless,” a friend told me I should save to invest in one. I didn’t listen and blew the money on other stuff, which is something I now wish I didn’t do.
Know exactly what type of career you want to have. For years I allowed other people to determine my career, only to realize they didn’t know what was best for me. I did. So I began creating a plan of who and what I wanted to be. I relayed that to my team and began to see true success.
Be nice to everyone as you never who will be who one day. It’s just a simple thing of energy and manners. People are always watching. An intern can easily be the president of a company later in life. You just never know.
Love practice like you love the game. I hear actors complaining all the time about auditioning and think that their negative energy will leave them when they step into the room. People can feel it, though, so I began to love every aspect of acting. Now I feel the love immediately when I step in the room because I changed my own outlook.
Acting is not a career, it’s more like starting a small business. You must identify what you’re selling and who you’re selling it to. Begin to create marketing material for your product and/or service, then begin to self-promote until you get one customer. Repeat that cycle.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to interview and be in touch with some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
AM: Warren Buffett. I would to talk business and investments with him as he is one of the greatest to ever do it.
Photo credit: Steven Gerlich at Aesthesia Studios
Written by: Yitzi Weiner