Yohance Myles: Why EVERY Step Matters
Words and Interview By Krystal Luster
Meet Yohance Myles, husband, father, motivational speaker, and artist of many trades. Yohance has a severe passion for his craft, family and spreading a much needed positive message to his fellow man. It isn’t my belief that we are born knowing our purpose. However, I do believe Yohance is exemplifying the importance of recognizing your calling, pursuing it and sharing knowledge gained in order to guide others towards their goals.
How did you start a career as an actor?
I started out as an artist, then musician (concert band and marching), then I slowly but surely gravitated to stage acting at Ensley High School. Upon entering college, I meet a young lady and Hollywood actress named Dr. Tonea Stewart who transformed my life into the successful actor you are witnessing today. She guided and trained me under her teaching of “Being” which I teach and hold true till this very moment of my life.
Were you in the theater before making screen appearances?
Yes, my fundamental foundation of being an actor comes from stage acting. I honestly enjoy live theater because a great deal of appreciation for my performance comes from what I create. I am not saying that any other component of live theater doesn’t serve its purpose, but there is no editing of my work when I perform on stage. It’s raw and uncut.
If for whatever reason you were no longer able to act, how else would you make a name for yourself?
Well, I am a man of many talents. I would first pursue making my organization “The Being Within Actor’s” Studio Session Inc. which helps guide inspiring actors with knowledge and life skills to sustain themselves and their talent in the competitively growing entertainment industry globally. And/or consider becoming a Department Chair of Theatre/Film Studies at some cool college/university. I will take any offers given. (smiling)
Would you consider running for President?
Lol, I know my purpose and running for President is not one of them. I would rather audition and play the part. I have enough duties already being a husband and father of 5 children.
What is your opinion on the recent election of President Donald Trump?
I am glad you are asking only my “opinion” on the election of our President. In lieu of the many reactions to President Trump’s election, our country must move forward as planned. There have been systems set in place for decades to make sure America is provided with the leadership needed. Sometimes it may take doing things a little different to pinpoint reality from entertainment. And sometimes it takes entertainment to force the reality of truth out. But we must also remember that it takes every US citizen to help run this great country, so I pray we all do our part. There is so much work to be done in our government and state legislature offices. It starts with each city.
How are you staying busy so far in 2017?
Well, I have to say all the hard work in 2016 is allowing 2017 to feel so good at this moment. I have recently enjoyed watching myself as one of the lead actors make the trailer of a film entitled “Created Equal” directed by Bill Duke. I have been afforded the opportunity to embrace several lead roles on projects like “Demons” directed by Miles Doleaq, and “Angel of Vengeance” directed by Wade Patterson. I am just enjoying the ride.
Tell us about the FOX limited series, ‘Shots Fired’ and how you prepared for the role of Leon Grant.
‘Shots Fired’ is a new FOX mini-series that opens the dialogue in navigating viewers into one of the world’s most pressing issue that continues to plague our very own country…racially charged injustices and shootings. To prepare for this role, I mainly embraced my own daily experiences. I share a similar lifestyle of Leon Grant’s character in that I have to face my own personal fears of fulfilling my purpose as an African-American father in today’s evolving society. I always like to say in order to WIN, one must recognize that there is a RACE. I embrace and relate to Leon Grant’s goals to provide his family stability through work, education, and value. The balance is to provide our son(s) with how to take ownership of one’s own IDENTITY while IDENTIFYING with the world’s view of racial profiling and inclusion.
What are your thoughts on “Black Lives Matter”? What do those words mean to you?
The future, our youth, black love, art, music, life, God, inclusion, and that “Black Lives Matter” only to those who haven’t forgotten that “All Lives Matter”. This is a global topic of concern but I am a strong advocate of believing no one particular race can expect another race of people to create awareness of his/her own until we embrace and educate our children to understand self-identity, self-expression, and self-awareness. There is a great deal of “Black on Black” violence that must be addressed in connection to the movement of “BLM”. There is an African proverb that says, “Where there is no enemy within; the enemies outside cannot hurt you”.
What was your childhood like?
My childhood was an enjoyable experience but yet challenging one. I grew up in Birmingham, AL in a community called Central Park. I have an older sister (Rashida Agee Myles) and three younger brothers (Hisani Gary Myles, Joshua Myles, and Joesph Webb III). My mother (Wanda Webb Moore) was a single-parent. She and my deceased grandmother (Bertha Armstead) did an amazing job as African-American women, providing us with the best quality of living and education. Other aspects of my earlier life included having to fight to survive in a once-upscale community that eventually was overrun by drugs and violence from violent gang activity. High school provided no refuge because it too was invaded by gang affiliated rivalry back in the early and late 90’s. My mother is a former teacher and she also spent a great deal of her time working for a federal prison unit in Birmingham, AL. She now works for the State of Alabama Juvenile Detention Center. As a mother, she refused for any of her children to be a product of those unfortunate times in which we grew up. But overall, my life as a child was definitely one full of surprises and adventures.
Why did you decide to pledge Alpha Phi Alpha?
Well, one of the amazing advantages of being a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. comes from the rich history of its origin. Founded in 1906 this fraternal organization pioneered the educated and uneducated black man to be empowered not only through self-identity but self-expression within his community. There are countless high profiled Alpha men, some who are well known across the world, that sacrificed their lives to be gatekeepers for young aspiring men like myself to build and establish fraternal brotherhood within the African-American communities by means of scholarship, manly deeds, and love for all mankind. Another reason for becoming a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. comes from bonding with some of the most dynamic and influential brothers on the great campus of Alabama State University. The brothers of the Beta Upsilon (Oop) Chapter has always been the exception because of the great trailblazers (our mini jewels and Sovereign 7) who lighted the path and upon whose shoulders I stand on. Special shout out to “P5”.
Where do you stand on Fraternity/Sorority hazing?
Hazing is definitely an indecent act of humiliation and degrading of any human being that I cannot support and speak out against its cruel actions with anyone’s affiliation of some sort. It’s often stated that an individual from the lack of knowledge or fear can exude a “slave” mentality, but no human being in the freedom of his/her own will should be treated as such.
As a motivational speaker, how do you prepare for a speech? Does motivating others motivate you?
I think a great deal of preparing for an opportunity to speak to a group of individuals would be knowing my audience. The other important part of preparation is learning what the occasion is about. 10% is writing the other 90% is being authentic and open to sharing my story. As the old saying goes, “Iron sharpeneth Iron”.
Tell us about the CWs ‘Containment’ and AMCs ‘Into the Badlands’.
Working on CW’s “Containment” started from a TV series I booked with writer/producer Julie Plec called “The Originals”. I played a vampire character named Joe Dayton on that show. “Containment” is about a deadly epidemic that breaks out in Atlanta leaving the large city quarantined and those stuck on the inside fighting for their lives. I played a recurring character named Dennis who serves as one of the executive assistants for a company called BitScan. He is a guy who likes to maintain a sense of control. Dennis has a deep secret that is revealed during the course of series.
AMC ‘s “Into the Badlands” is a martial arts show that viewers can truly appreciate the cultural diversity and amazing fight choreography. I play a recurring character named Ringo who is an expressionist of art, emotions, and hidden truths. Everything about this guy has a line of thought. Ringo can be either soft or hard edged. He is the local tattoo artist who engraves war victory marks on the back of his closest friend Sunny. Ringo also operates a printing press in the small village of “Into the Badlands”. Ringo’s shop serves as a resourceful hub and occasionally one might find some interesting things happening within the four walls of his tattoo shop.
Do you always get the role you audition for?
Unfortunately, the answer is NO! But that doesn’t mean I am not talented enough. There are so many other non-controlling factors that relate to the reasons for not booking the part. I strive to remain humble in this business. Remember, it’s about progression, not perfection.
In all of the roles that you’ve portrayed, which character is most memorable to you?
I have to say that I have three roles that are memorable: Marlon Hart on “NCIS: New Orleans” (2015) because it was my first opportunity to showcase my talent as a guest starring role for such a successful running enterprise like NCIS. The character Marlon Hart was also a role different from the authoritative roles I am [accustomed] to portraying. And I was able to make Meghan Lewis proud for casting and introducing me to the CBS family network. The other role would be Lee Baldokowski on “Blue Bloods” (2015). This role was definitely memorable because I reconnected with director David Barnett. We worked together on a film called “Fire with Fire” (2012) and life brought our paths back together full circle. Also, “Blue Bloods” was the TV series that allowed me to visit New York City for the first time in my life. And last but not least, I would say the character Dr. Edmonds of the film “Hours” starring Paul Walker. Now that was a memory of a lifetime sharing screen and personal time with my friend Paul Walker.
If you knew the date of your death, how would you spend your last moments on Earth?
I would spend it with my wife and children. Most importantly, holding and loving my wife because she’d be the one burying me.
Who/what is your motivation?
There are so many people to thank for where I am in life. First, there is God who gives me life, creativity, and strength to inspire people through the art of storytelling. My mother, who loved and raised me with the knowledge of believing in those gifts bestowed upon my life. Mrs. Yolaine Joesph for taking me under her wings as our high school drama teacher while I was yet discovering who I was as a teenager. Dr. Tonea Stewart for being that mentor, director, guide, acting teacher, and second mom while in college. She is definitely the gasoline and fire to my talent consuming the success I have this day. But I have to say beyond those individuals I just named who were the pioneers for my career, I have to say what truly motivates me to accomplish and strive for the best are; my wife (Kimberly Morgan Myles) and my five children (Maliq, Miciah, Christian, Bella Grace, and newly addition Jackson Myles).
Is acting a profession you’ve always wanted to do?
Yes, once I realized that this was my purpose and path. I have enjoyed every high and low moment of my profession and if I had to do it all over again, I would do it the same way.
Contact Yohance via Facebook: Yohance Myles and Twitter: @yohance_myles.
Photo By Birdie Thompson
Photo By Joseph Adivari