Malik Yoba takes on a new role

Malik Yoba has a new role on "Designated Survivor."

Story highlights

  • Yoba has a role on the new series "Designated Survivor"

(CNN)Malik Yoba's father taught him a saying: "Build your own generator so when they turn off the power, you still have lights."

The actor has taken that advice to heart, carving out his own opportunities in Hollywood.
    He's appeared on screen steadily in the two decades since Yoba first came to fame in 1993's "Cool Runnings." But he's also a playwrite, musician and marketing executive.
    Yoba just added another project to his list of credits with a role on the new ABC series "Designated Survivor."
    "It's a huge political thriller," he said. "It's a great show, especially given our political climate. I think there is a little bit of art imitating life, but hopefully nobody blows up the Capitol building during the State of the Union."
    That's the premise of the show.
    Kiefer Sutherland stars as Tom Kirkman, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, who is thrust into the presidency after tragedy strikes. Yoba plays the director of the FBI.
    Over the years, Yoba has built a solid fan base through his work on the Fox drama "New York Undercover," along with appearances on shows like "Arrested Development" and "Girlfriends"
    His supporters include "Designated Survivor" creator, David Guggenheim.
    "Sometimes you have producers tell you 'I'm a huge fan, I'm a huge fan.' But David Guggenheim, I have so much love for this dude," Yoba said. "He's the type of fan who remembers your dialogue from his favorite roles you've done. That was a shock."
    Yoba's supporters were shocked when his character was killed off in the first season of "Empire."
    But the actor insists he has no regrets about no longer being on what has exploded into one of Fox's biggest TV shows.
    "It's not all about starring in a TV show for me," he said. "It's about being able to provide opportunity and employment for other people."
    To that end, Yoba has built iconic32, a marketing firm and content creation company.
    He's set to executive produce and star in a series currently in development titled "Pledge" -- a multi-generational drama set at a historically black college.
    He's also has a one-man stage play "Harlem to Hollywood," debuting at the Apollo Theater in February. Yoba will portray about 20 different characters in the show.
    Juggling it all seems daunting, but Yoba is centered when it comes to his craft.
    "To me, acting is simple," he said. "People put other things in front of it, but it's staying in truth."