Allen Maldonado – Maldonado Is Everywhere
Words + Interview By: Tyrone Davis
If you’ve seen any of the more popular films or television shows of the last few years, you’re probably a fan of Allen Maldonado’s work. With a professional career that exceeds 15 years, Allen has been an actor, writer, producer, composer and has even launched an app. During our interview, we spoke about various topics which included the importance of paying dues, Allen’s experiences working on set, music and living everyday like it’s your last. His social media handles fit because “Maldonado is Everywhere”, literally.
I was first introduced to you in Rick Famuyiwa’s film, “Dope” (2015). That’s one of my favorite films and when your people reached out to us, the first thing I thought was, “Hell yea! That’s my guy!” How did you get the role as Allen the Bouncer?
I auditioned and went through the normal process of a first read followed by a director’s read. I love Rick so much because when we began shooting he really let me bring my own flavor to the role and improv and be free. Because of that, I think we got a really funny scene out of it. I truly appreciate him trusting me as an actor and allowing me to do that. I also had the pleasure of working with him in a huge Kevin Durant (Nike) campaign and once again, he trusted me and let me have my freedom as a comedic actor. He is an actor’s dream director.
There were a lot of talent (old and new) in the film, so screen-time has to be shared by multiple people. What is your thought process when approaching a project like that? I’d imagine you want to go hard in the paint to ensure people remember you. The scene when you blocked Malcolm (Shameik Moore) and crew from getting in the club had me crying-laughing.
When we began the film, I don’t think any of us really knew it would get the type of response we got. I approached this film like any other film I’ve been blessed to be a part of. I gave it my all. I often write extra jokes and setups for almost every line, so on my shooting day(s) I can be ready for whatever is thrown at me.
The film did a great job at adding that nostalgia of the 80’s & 90’s, but also bridging that gap between those of us who are older and the younger generation. I think that would help relations between us (ages) all across the board if treated that way, especially in the music business. What say you?
I totally agree as we are often saying the same things, just in a different way. More times than not, a lack of communication is the biggest problem we have in society. To able to reach a large and diverse audience is the goal most filmmakers attempt in order to spread a message with their film.
“Dope” also introduced me to Bitcoin. I never did get involved in it and I don’t have any regrets, but I just thought it was funny that it was being talked about in the film, then we had the big Bitcoin craze a few months back. Did you ever invest in Bitcoin? Why or why not?
No, I never invested in Bitcoin. I didn’t know much about it to really to get involved and I would never go into any investment blindly, but more power to those who took the opportunity to make a profit off of it.
You’ve played a wide range of characters in your career. Which one of them is most like you in real life and why?
Hmm. I’m not exactly sure as I am a very multi-faceted individual. I grew up in California and as a child but I spent my summers in New York and Alabama. I was a Boy Scout, active in the church choir, played basketball, performed with the salsa club and ran the street with gang members from my neighborhood. I’d have to say a piece of me lives in all of my characters so far.
What do you think about during scenes that you have to cry in? Is it just acting alone or do you have to tap into something in particular?
I can’t give away those secrets but the idea is not to think. You have to feel. If I can understand the perspective of the character, I only have to stay true to their feelings and everything just comes out naturally.
Which do you enjoy more, the comedic roles or the more serious ones? Please Elaborate.
I love to do both. Similar to food, it all depends on my mood. Early in my career I could only land dramatic roles so I was able to really work on my craft and become a solid dramatic actor. Comedy was always easy to me as I was the class clown in high school so making people laugh always gave me an amazing feeling. Once I cut the waist-long hair that I used to have, I began to get my comedic roles and my career really began to take off. An action-comedy would be the perfect blend of both worlds for me.
Why is it important for people in the entertainment field to wear more than one hat? What all are you involved in?
I think it’s important for all creative people to not limit themselves to just one form. As a person of color, I think it’s in our best interest to step up to more things than just being in front of the camera. The real change in diversity can come from being a producer, writer and/or director. I’m currently working on all facets of the game as a television and film writer, a show developer, a director, a creator, an actor AND I sell fish plates on the weekend! Lol! But seriously, I think it’s important for every actor to understand that it’s almost insane to think someone that doesn’t know you or what you like will write the perfect role for you. Why not write it yourself?
What did being a writer for the Starz series, “Survivors Remorse” entail? What was your creative process?
Survivor’s Remorse was a life-changing opportunity for me as it was my first time writing for a major network. Shout out to my writing mentor, Michael Kane! He wrote, All the Right Moves for Tom Cruise and I’ve been working with him since I was 17. He’s the one who taught me how to write. His work ethic is what prepared me for the writer’s room being that we would write together from morning to night for weeks at a time. Being in a writer’s room is like being an attorney in front of a 12 man jury; the ideas you pitch are the defendant and it’s your job to convince everyone that your idea is innocent, i.e. works for the story you’re pitching.
About a year or so ago, you launched the “Everybody Digital” app. Break that down for us. Also, has it worked out the way you planned?
We launched Everybody Digital in October of 2017 and in 6 short months, we have been dubbed, “The short film version of Netflix,” which is an incredible honor in such a short period of time. We have continued to grow our catalog of amazing films and have gained more exposure for our filmmakers from numerous film festival partnerships. We have original short films and digi-series starring big names such Affion Crockett, Peter Mackenzie, Noel G, and Kali Hawk, just to name a few.
We also have upcoming films starring Deon Cole, Miles Brown, and Omar Dorsey. I urge all of my short film makers to submit their films to www.EverybodyDigital.com and catch the wave of this amazing platform creating a new road and prestige for the short film world. Also, to all my short film and short-form media lovers, please download the app for free, then upgrade to receive a free month of premium content.
One of my graphic design professors in college was the first person I had ever heard refer to my generation as “millennials.” How important are millennials to you and what you do?
Millennials are the present and the future. They’re ushering us into this new world of technology and I’m excited to be a part of it myself. We are currently living out The Jetson’s and Back to the Future. This model of life is fascinating as the world seems smaller and we are able to further understand the different countries around the world in split-seconds. It’s a great time to be alive.
I thought you were “new” to the business prior to doing the research, but your acting career actually started in 2002 with a small role in “Friday After Next”. How did you land that role and what made you want to become an actor?
Yes, that was my first major role. Once again, I just auditioned and went through the normal process, ending with my auditioning with Ice Cube in the room, and I booked it. Basketball was my first love, but I wasn’t exactly great at it. I played varsity on my high school basketball team, but I was a late bloomer and had to work extremely hard just to find minutes on the team. I also discovered you can’t teach height. It was my senior year when I signed up for theater as an elective and it was like a fish to water. I quickly realized that this was my gift.
Let’s take it back a little bit before that. Where are you from originally and what was life like growing up?
I lived in Compton, CA until I was 7 then we moved to Rialto, CA, where I grew up and became the man that I am today from a huge apartment complex known around town as, “The Vineyards”.
Piggybacking off of my question about your resume dating back to 2002, does it ring true to you that people don’t see all of the hard work one has to put in prior to “blowing up”? What were some things you had to do that you would consider “paying dues”?
Definitely. This game is a marathon and I wouldn’t change anything as all the obstacles that I’ve endured on this road have only made me stronger for all that is to come. When I first started, I worked two jobs while attending college for business. I would take two trains and ride a bike from Rialto to Hollywood just to get to my acting classes and that was before I booked one role. I’ve paid a lot of dues in the process of living my dreams.
I’m going to throw a few names out there. Say whatever comes to mind:
a) Denzel Washington – Smoothest man on Earth.
b) Honey Nutz – Shitstain and Sam – Top 5 rap group.
c) Donald Trump – Two thumbs down.
d) Demo Nerds – Helping kids is everything.
e) Black Women – Queens of the Earth. My mother is my heart.
What have you learned from Anthony Anderson while working on the sitcom “Black•Ish” that you will carry with you the remainder of your career/life?
How to be a leader and set the tone of family (on and off set) with your cast. He is always on and prepared no matter how long the shooting schedule. I couldn’t respect a man more as he has been able to maneuver from comedy to drama throughout his entire career. That’s something I look forward to emulating in my own career.
Tell us about “Get It Done Records”.
Get It Done Records is a music production company that I’ve been building for the past 8 years and have had over 100 placements on TV shows and films. We’ve had songs placed on shows such as Ray Donavan, Lie to Me, NBA TV, and Access Hollywood. We’ve also had songs placed in films such as Don Jon, Next Three Days, and Acts of Violence starring Bruce Willis, just to name a few. It’s been a passion of mine as I’ve written and performed on more than 300 songs over the years. We will continue to build our catalog and expand our relationship with networks and production companies providing a library of costume music to fit all our clients’ needs.
Your “Top 5” rap artists: Go.
“Straight Outta Compton” is one of the most important films of our time in regard to Hip-Hop. How did landing the role make you feel and how do you feel about the project, overall?
Again, I auditioned my ass off for that role! I went in for a variety of roles and am happy I was able to be a part of such and iconic film. This is another film I don’t think anyone knew would have the impact and box office success that we were blessed to have. #1 for four weeks in a row is just remarkable!
I think it set the bar super high for any film that comes out afterward. What did you think about All Eyez On Me? I thought Demetrius Shipp did an excellent job, especially for a first timer and honestly, I can’t see anyone else playing that part. That’s probably the closest we’re going to get.
I had an opportunity to meet Demetrius on the set of Where’s the Money as my cast-mate, Kat Graham, was also his cast-mate in the film. He was a really cool dude and I’m happy he had the opportunity to showcase his talent. He did an incredible job in the film.
There were a lot of issues getting that film made and although it wasn’t the greatest film of all time, I understood and gave it a shot and ultimately appreciated it for what it was. Can you shed some light on how things can go wrong when creating a project of that magnitude, especially regarding behind-the-scenes issues and paperwork? I don’t think the fans get it.
In every production, big or small, you have to overcome many obstacles, so I commend anyone who is able to complete a film and sell it. The journey from conception to box office is a long and incredibly hard job, no matter the outcome. What can happen will happen, as you often have to act on the fly and problem-solve as you go so. It takes a special type of person to endure all the obstacles.
Being from Cali, what are your thoughts on a lot of the younger generation of artists dissing 2Pac today?
I just think it’s just a lack of understanding the impact that he had not only in hip hop, but the world. His work affected an entire generation and still continues to. It’s unfortunate for any who can’t see the beauty and brilliance that he was able to get across at a young age. It’s blasphemy.
You have quite a few new projects coming up, with the most recent being Jordan Peele’s, “The Last O.G.” alongside Tracy Morgan, Tiffany Haddish and Cedric the Entertainer. What can those who haven’t seen it expect?
You can expect to laugh your ass off. Tracy Morgan is back and everyone will be quickly reminded why we all fell in love with his work over the years. Tiffany Haddish is just beautiful and magical along with Cedric the Entertainer, another veteran whose talent is unmatched. I’m blessed to round out the cast and bring my flavor to the show. And let’s not forget the Oscar award-winning Jordan Peele who is our fearless leader along with Tracy. I am so excited and anxious for everyone to see the hard work we put into this show!
Who made you laugh the most on set?
Tracy as most of my scenes were with him. He’s always on no matter if the cameras are on or not.
You and Tracy Morgan have both been involved in serious car accidents. What happened in your situation and how did you feel afterward?
Well, I was hit by a drunk driver going 65 mph in a BMW while I was walking. I flew in the air landed on my face, broke my leg, and curved my spine. Even though I had a long and tough recovery, my faith in God and my fearlessness in life couldn’t have been stronger. I am a better person for it as I approach life like every second could be your last. When it’s my time to go and I look at myself, I can honestly say that I gave it my all to achieve my dreams.
Tell us about the upcoming “Superfly” remake. What role do you play?
I play a trap rapper named Litty who’s in business with Superfly. I’m excited to see what Director X and all of his talents have put together for this remake. It’s yet another iconic film I am blessed to be a part of.
Are there any upcoming projects you’re working on that we haven’t discussed?
Yes. I have a horror film I’m executive producing called Mimesis: Evolution that I am very excited to have released this fall. It’s the sequel to Mimesis, which was one of the first leads I had in a feature film. I’m excited to continue to build on this franchise.
Having a passion for something and actively pursuing it is challenging for most. Do you have any advice for those pursuing or wanting to pursue their dreams?
Understand that this not a career but more like opening a small business. You’re not going make millions on day one of opening a business. It’s a slow process. It’s going to take every ounce of energy you’ve got to get it off the ground but it’s all going to be worth it in the long run. Run your marathon with all you have and never quit.
I’m happy for you, homie. How can people get in contact with you on social media?
Please follow me on Instagram @maldonadoiseverywhere, on Twitter @amiseverywhere and just search Allen Maldonado for my Facebook fan page.
Any last words?
God bless and happy hunting, my fellow dreamers!
Photo: Steven Gerlich
Wardrobe: Daralyn Carter
Grooming: Bethany Garita