Born in the South Bronx and raised in Harlem, Yoba offers almost three decades of
commitment to the arts and his credits include over fifty films and more than a dozen
roles in network/cable tv series. His debut in Disney’s Cool Runnings and his
performance as NYPD Detective J.C. Williams in the ground breaking police drama,
New York Undercover, catapulted Malik into the fabric of American culture. He
recently premiered his musical auto-biography, Harlem to Hollywood at the Apollo
theater with his co-writer/director and Broadway veteran, Kevin Ramsey. The show
features Yoba’s original music and extensive character work as he brings over 20
personalities to life.
IN THE BEGINNING...
At the age of thirteen Yoba was a member of The Metropolitan Opera Children’s
Theater Guild and at age sixteen he worked with The Negro Ensemble Company. His
stage credits include The Atlantic Theater Company’s The Loneliness of The Long
Distance Runner, The New Group’s production of Everything’s Turning Into
Beautiful with Daphne Rubin Vega and The Delaware Theater Company’s The Piano
At fifteen, Yoba was shot by a stranger and left for dead. He had already realized he
had a passion and gift for moving others and raising consciousness, but that near death
experience solidified his belief in personal and social responsibility; spurring him toward
a life of service, creativity, volunteerism, community activism and entrepreneurship.
He’s made it his life’s mission to use the arts and his voice as his weapons of choice.
Yoba was a youth development specialist at the City Kids Foundation from the ages
19 to 24. CKF is a multi-cultural youth leadership organization that uses performing and
visual arts to educate and promote social change. Yoba and his team served NYC
public high schools via the AIDP (Attendance Improvement Dropout Prevention)
program where they assessed students, faculty and parents’ needs in order to improve
the quality of the students’ academic experience which resulted in improved attendance.
Their efforts culminated in presenting recommendations for education reform to
leadership at the NYC Board of Education.
In 1989, Yoba co-founded the City Kids Foundation branch in Los Angeles where he
designed and facilitated workshops on leadership, diversity and inclusion, community
organizing, conflict resolution, team and self-esteem building.
Before his acting career took off, Yoba was actively pursuing a career in music and was
co-musical director for the Jim Henson Productions/ABC produced Saturday morning
show CityKids. He also wrote the theme song for the Jamaican bobsled team in the
movie Cool Runnings. The native New Yorker has also performed as a musical artist
at both Carnegie Hall and the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Over the years Yoba has worked with tens of thousands of young people across
America and around the globe. From Yale to Rikers Island High School and the
Spofford Detention Center in New York to students at Johannesburg Secondary School
in South Africa to young people in Toronto, Jamaica, Korea, Ethiopia and Belize and
Central America, Yoba remains committed to the advancement of youth. At 23, he was
named Vice President of the City Kids Foundation and served from 1991-1993.
For his dedication to youth, Yoba has been recognized by or worked with US
Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, The Congress of the United States,
The Mayor of New York City, NYPD, UNICEF, McDonald’s Black Achievers, Hale
House, The Ethiopian Children’s Fund, The Conference of Black Mayors, The
Congressional Black Caucus and more. He is also a well sought after inspirational
speaker and presents workshops to corporations, prisons, colleges, universities,
churches and community organizations that focus on various topics ranging from
diversity and inclusion, leadership, team building and mass incarceration reform.
A working actor ever since he made his debut, his film credits include: Copland, ‘Til
Death Do Us Part, Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married? and Why Did I Get Married
Too?, Smoke, Blue in the Face, Soul Food, Ride, Bad Dad Rehab, Criminal and
Betty and Coretta where he says he had the “great honor” of portraying Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr. opposite Angela Basset. International productions include the Danish
film, Oh Happy Day, the BBC film Turks and Caicos directed by David Hare and Take
Point, a Korean action film for CJ Entertainment which was released worldwide in 2018.
Yoba has been a guest on numerous talk shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show,
Inside The Actors Studio, The Wendy Williams Show, and Charlie Rose.
He was a lead regular as FBI Deputy Director Jason Atwood on the ABC drama
Designated Survivor. He hosted TV One’s documentary crime series Justice By Any
Means. Other series include Alphas, Defying Gravity, Bull, Trinity, Kingpin, Raines
and Thief. He has had recurring roles on Revolution, Arrested Development,
Girlfriends, Single Ladies and has appeared in numerous guest-starring roles including Justified, Blue Bloods, Limitless, The Good Wife, Person of Interest, Law
and Order and Nikita. He also appeared in Jordan Peele’s TBS’ comedy with Tracey
Morgan The Last OG as well as the drama series Seven Seconds on Netflix, God
Friended Me for CBS and The First Wives Club for BET.