Malik Yoba is dishing on his character Vernon Turner getting killed off in the season 1 finale of “Empire.” Find out what he said about his character being underutilized and per-maturely killed off inside….
During last night’s two-hour season finale of “Empire,” we saw the end of Mailk Yoba’s character Vernon Turner. Well, possibly. He was murdered (seemingly) after getting hit in the head by Andre Lyon’s wife Rhonda during a scuffle with her husband.
While chatting it up on “The Combat Jack Show,” Malik kept it real about feeling like his character was not fully developed and was pre-maturely killed off. Bloop!
For his 13th television series, the seasoned star said it felt like déjà vu being on “Empire” after his highly successful stint on the FOX series “New York Undercover.” He said it felt like he had the opportunity to re-visit the DNA of something that was the blueprint for radical television.
He compared the similarities of being on “New York Undercover” 20 years ago, (which was one of few shows during its time to be renewed past the first season with a cast of color as the lead) to how it felt being on the highly popular hip hopera today. Coming on the set of “Empire” brought back nostalgic memories with many of the same FOX execs, photographers, and guest stars (i.e. Mary J. Blige, Naomi Campbell) joining the project. Even Terrance Howard was a guest star on “New York Undercover.”
While filming “Empire,” he revealed he would give acting lessons to the younger stars (such as Jussie Smollett and Bryshere Gray) before they would shoot their scenes. He said,
“You have to direct as an extension of your experience. “
Then, he talked about his character Vernon Turner not being utilized to his fullest capacity and how he felt about producers killing off his character. He revealed that he tried to negotiate to have his character on longer, but, it didn’t go down. He spilled,
“Lee [Daniels] doesn’t run the show. Him and Danny Strong created the show, but he doesn’t run it. There’s a woman named Ilene Chaiken (showrunner who created the “The L Word”) that actually runs the show. Meaning, she runs the writer’s room, she’s in charge of hiring the directors and oversees the whole creative process of the show. So, I was definitely like ‘Dude? Really? There’s no way we can like…that’s the story.”
“It’s bad enough y’all haven’t wrote anything real significant that I can sink my teeth into. People don’t even know who Vernon was. “
He believed he could have added a lot more to his character had the producers decided to shine more light on the business aspect rather than all of the dramatics. He also revealed that he actually wrote the biography on his character because there wasn’t one written in the first place. He said,
“I came up from a music background. Dame Dash grew up in my building. I remember when he and Jay Z first met. Watching Russell Simmons create Def Jam in New York City, so I knew who the Vernon-type cat is suppose to be. By the third episode, I asked ‘Did y’all even write a bio for this dude? How am I suppose to connect the dots?’ So I wrote one myself.”
He also said he didn’t want his character to just be the “Yes Man” and that he wished Vernon had more depth. He said,
“Vernon was described as the chairman of the board. Since he’s the chairman of the board and they’re trying to take a company public, there’s a lot of room to talk about the business aspect of these two black men building a company in Hip Hop, in America right now. I thought we would have the opportunity of getting into the business of it. That it wouldn’t be this high drama, soap opera about everyone backstabbing each other trying to take over the throne. I thought it was going to be a different experience. When I read the script, I was like ‘Oh, so we doing the Sopranos right now. I’m covering up murders now.’”
He said he asked about where his character was going during filming, but producers wouldn’t tell him. He said he would get scripts a few days before the taping, so he was pretty much in the dark about his character. He called it “an odd experience.”
Malik also talked about producers not taking advantage of the opportunity to create amazing moments with the characters:
“We [him and Taraji P. Henson] finally had a scene together in the season finale. Like it took 12 episodes…that’s the kind of sh*t to me where I was like ‘You don’t see the value in making amazing moments between these actors.’”
Peep his full 2-hour interview where he talks about how his career took off after appearing in the 1993 film “Cool Runnings”, the success of “New York Undercover,” black Hollywood in the 90s and more below:
This morning, Malik joined his “Empire” co-star Raven Symone (who was guest co-hosting) on “The View” where he pulled out his guitar and sang! Who knew he was a musician who could play an instrument AND sing?
Peep his performance at the 32:00 mark below:
Photos: Bryon Summers/The View’s IG