Allen Maldonado may not be a name you recognize but you do recognize his face and stand out roles in some of the biggest blockbusters in the past 5 years. From The Equalizer to the N.W.A’s biopic Straight Outta Compton, Maldonado has been able to engulf himself into any role that he takes on. Maldonado fell into the acting world by chance in high school and when the bug hit him hard—he hit the ground running and eventually landed himself a role on the CBS’ “The Young & The Restless.”
Now after years of grinding and building his brand, Maldonado is a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. The actor, who is also a philanthropist with his organization Demo Nerds, an acting camp for young kids and entrepreneurs, took the time to talk with EGL about how it is working on an Emmy nominated TV series, his venture into the digital app world and how he’s able to choose some of his stand out roles in Hollywood.
Allen: I mean talk about lessons in acting class, watching people be good people. They’re two good people before you even touch what they do as actors and their abilities because they’re class acts that celebrate the things that they do on screen. But the things that they do off screen as far as how the chemistry between us is like a real family. You know, Anthony is like a big brother of mine, he looks out, he supports me on things I do outside of the show. He’s just a good person. And Tracee is just a remarkable talent [and] I still think people haven’t absorbed how great she is as far as the timing and how she just carries the show. It’s just a phenomenal feeling to be a part of what I feel to be an iconic show in the future.
EGL: I’ve looked over some of your work to familiarize myself with you more and all I can say is wow with your range of acting. How do you choose the roles that stand out to you the most?
Allen: You know what…there’s a certain, I have to be excited about it which means it has to move me in some type [of way], whether it’s a creative space or it’s a business space because I always stress to actors that this business is 80 percent business, 10 percent talent and 10 percent politics. You have to move accordingly in developing and building your company, because me as an actor, I am a company. So I have to look strategically [at] marketing— how this will affect me, affect my numbers, affect my viewership and how it will affect my overall brand. I’ve been blessed to be in a position as a businessman where I’ve been able to make decisions and say no because I’ve had other means of income, so I wasn’t in a position where I had to take a job to keep the lights on which is a blessing and it gave me power to be able to make decisions in my career because a lot of people aren’t fortunate enough to do that because of their circumstances.
EGL: What was your first impression when you walked in on set to an Emmy-nominated show of this caliber knowing how hard it is for African American and Latino shows to even finish a first season let alone get a third season on network television?
Allen: I’ve been on the show since the first season, so kind of leading up to our Emmy-nominated season last year, we knew we had something special. I’ve been in this business for a while and you just know when you get a group of people who gel together and that’s definitely a reflection from the top down. That’s a shoutout to Kenya Barris (creator of Black-Ish), who is also my mentor and big brother and how he leads us and how he carries the stories, and how he dictates the mood of the show and everybody falls in line to what he believes in…his leadership. So you kind of knew it was special but then when you get the nomination, it’s kind of surreal. As you mentioned, it’s kind of difficult for African American shows or diverse people of color that are successful and also get critic acclaim—so, it’s definitely a blessing.
EGL: You’ve also guest starred and even wrote an episode for Starz’s “Survivor’s Remorse.” How was the character DeShawn May created?
Allen: (laughs) DeShawn May! I wish I could take credit for DeShawn May. When I guest starred, it was season two of “Survivor’s Remorse” and that was a group of writers that were already on staff. I joined the staff on season three and currently season four and I began writing, so I wish would’ve had my hands on DeShawn May but that was the writers from season two who did a phenomenal job and to be able to play a role like that, shoutout to Michael Malley, the show runner, who is another mentor and person I look up to as far as how he carries himself and how hard he works for the show. My performance on there was in large part of how we were able to play in our chemistry on set which led me to be a writer on the show, so shoutout to him for believing in me not only as an actor but also a writer.
EGL: So you are currently filming season four (Survivor’s Remorse). Can you give any little tidbits of the upcoming season?
Allen: Mannnn, I can’t….I can’t. You trying to get me fired! (laughs) Nah, I can’t because as a writer, I can’t say anything because I know everything. I will say this— it is going to be jammed pack with emotion and laughter. I know last year we had to deal with Uncle Julius’ death but as the season ended we have some stuff we have to clear up which is going to be full of emotion, full of laughter, you know it’s real life. You know as we go through things, we feel the pain but then we begin to laugh at it and that’s kind of the direction the show is going in when dealing with a family of new wealth and issues and problems and great things that come from that. We definitely tackle those things.
EGL: You recently filmed “Where’s the Money” with Kat Graham and Terry Crews. Can you tell a little bit about the premise of the movie and the chemistry between you three on set?
Allen: Yea, you can’t forget about my man King Bach, he’s the star of the film. The group is me, King Bach, Kat Graham and Mike Epps is also in the film. It’s another great group of talent where it all comes together. The film is about a young man who is put in a position where he has to retrieve money that his father left to him in a frat house and we must go undercover to get that. It’s pretty funny buddy comedy and what Terry Crews does in the film is hilarious and of course Mike Epps comes in and steals the show, but I think it’s going to be a fun film when everybody gets a chance to check it out.
EGL: Please tell me about EveryBody Digital. Why do you believe using digital technology was the way to go?
Allen: Well Everybody Digital is important because it focuses on a portion of the film industry that is overlooked and that is the short film genre. We are the first app that will stream short films from around the world from major festivals to minor ones, some that have just been aired on Youtube or streaming on websites similar to it. We will have a full catalog and it will be one group and one big family, we’ll move as a unit. We will be the short film version of Netflix as our backdrop will be the short films but we will also be producing and creating original content, where we’ll be rolling out throughout the calendar year—our first show will be ‘Who the F is Uncle Joe?’ which is an action comedy. We have films starring Peter McKinsey from ‘Black-Ish’, Deon Cole, we get actors Noel G (Furious 7) he’s starring in the film—so we have a lot of original content that’s going to be on the app as well to go along with the long list of short films that we have. It’s important because a lot of individuals, especially millennials, most of them are disconnected—a lot of them don’t even have cable, so they view 75 percent of their content on their phones, tablets and computers. I believe we’re a step away from satisfying those viewers and customers as this is quality media that has been untouched.
EGL: Can you tell us a little bit about your foundation, Demo Nerds?
Allen: Yes. I founded Demo Nerds this acting and film camp for kids 5 years ago. We’re coming up on our 5-year anniversary which I am very, very proud of. It began from going to a career day with a group of foster kids and I just fell in love with them—the organization that I was working with I just really stressed to them I really wanted to work with these kids and help them out. SO in the process, they said create a program and we’ll see what we can do. That’s how Demo Nerds was born. We’re a two week acting camp where the kids learn acting exercises the first week—second week they get the opportunity to create and produce their own short film and on the last day of the camp we have a red carpet gala where kids dress up, the press come out, they do interviews, they get the full Hollywood experience. Then we screen the movie that they shot in front of their friends and family of the community. It’s been transformative for these kids. A lot of them are foster kids and at-risk youth, where they come in a certain way and leave another. They leave with a true sense of self. They find the importance in self-confidence through our camp. And I actually give a lot of my success on camera due to this program because I believe the more you give, the more you receive. So the blessing of this program, helping these kids has helped my career tenfold and my soul. I figured it helps me move better as a person helping these kids find their way.
Allen Maldonado has a pretty busy schedule for 2017. The actor is currently working on season four of Starz’ “Survivor’s Remorse” and FX’s “You’re the Worst” as well as three movies coming out with some of the biggest names in Hollywood. If you want to find out more information about his organization Demo Nerds, you can go demonerds.com.
Interview By: Jnelle Belle