The Daily Grind Video

Empire took television by storm with its first episode this past week, and we’ve got to say, with the star-studded, talented, predominantly black cast that it boasts, we knew it would be good – but damn, it’s good!

Recently, we got to chat it up with Malik Yoba, who plays the sexy Vernon Turner in the highly anticipated series. We learned a lot about his insatiable need to serve humanity, his thoughts on the importance in portraying black family dynamics on television, and more.

Catch a few things you probably didn’t know about the famed actor below.

Plus, tune into Fox on Wednesdays at 9pm to keep up with the show and follow Malik on Twitter here for your daily dose of positivity and fun.

1. He thinks Lee Daniels is a genius, which is one of the reasons he was interested in the role.

I think Lee Daniels is a genius. I think he’s a mad, nutty professor scientist. I thought the subject matter was dope, I thought it was great to have a chance to work with him and some of my old friends, for instance, Taraji. It was a bit of a family affair… and it’s always good when they say yes. When people say yes, you try to go with that.

2. Being apart of Empire was about a lot more than acting for Malik.

I’ve done from sci-fi, to action, to wall street-themed shows. Sometimes shows are just too high concept but this is so simple and real, it really speaks to black family dynamics and that’s something you just don’t see. There hasn’t been a proper black family drama in my opinion in 20 years, that really show those dynamics. It’s important. They have a lot of shows that have black folks in the cast but this is black all the way.

3. He co-founded Iconic32, aims to educate young people, and believes you have to “lead by example” in order to make an impact.

I co-founded a company called Iconic32 and our mission is to drive social good through pop culture. One of the things that I enjoy about starting a company like this is the number of young men and women who say ‘You know what? I really like the message you guys are putting out there.’ It’s like the show – it’s not about glorifying the violence, it’s just about showing some of the things young people actually deal with in that regard. But I also think that you just have to lead by example, show that you can make something out of nothing.

4. Even if he only had a few years to live, he’d still spend his time serving humanity. Service is what drives Malik’s life.

Well you know, I got shot at age 15. So, for me, I take nothing for granted. Everyday of my life, I intend to live it to the fullest. My life has been pretty simple – I’ve been driven by service. That’s pretty basic. You have to be in service to humanity on some level. You have to be about uplifting and developing other people. You have fun, you make money – but at the core of it all, how can I help you help me help you?

 5. He may have been born in the Bronx, but he’s basically from Harlem.

I was born in the Bronx but I moved to Harlem when I was in second grade.