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Wingman Wednesday

Allen Maldonado

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Photographer: Photographed by Steven Gerlich at Aesthesia Studios/Wardrobe Stylist: Daralyn Carter/Groomer: Bethany Garita

Although acting is at the core of Allen Maldonado’s entertainment industry ambitions, he’s quickly climbing each branch of the overall tree. With his own record company, a writing career, a growing digital presence thanks to the app he launched in 2017, Everybody Digital, and a production arm with multiple projects in development, “The Last O.G.” star is on the verge of being the first name on everybody’s call list. Starting today he can be seen in the new film “SuperFly,” based on the 1972 classic.

We recently sat down with Maldonado to discuss his workhorse mentality, what fans can expect from Season 2 of the hottest comedy on television, and why he goes into “Inception” mode when he’s creating.

TrunkSpace: This must be a crazy exciting time for you with everything that has been popping the last few years. Have you been able to sit back and enjoy it or is it all coming at you fast and furious?
Maldonado: I mean, I’m a workhorse, man. I really find joy in the deal of it all, like closing the deal and the excitement of getting a new project. I don’t dwell on it as much. It’s ongoing, what is happening – it’s always the pursuit is what is exciting to me. So that is what I guess keeps me going at a rate that I’m going in the last couple of years. The excitement of going from one project to the next and continuing to build and continuing to grow my career, that’s what, really, I’ve been tracking. Everything else… I always get a bit surprised with people when they recognize me for my work because I keep my head down at work. I don’t really pay attention to all that.

TrunkSpace: They say that work begets work in this industry, but in a lot of ways, it kind of plays out like a video game. When you’re new, you start on the easiest level, and then work your way up to more and more difficult levels. Basically, as an actor, you work your way up in a very similar way.
Maldonado: Yes! I think it also adds equity in this business, being that we’re doing multimillion dollar projects where these investors have to have confidence to be investing millions in their particular talents that they have in their films or their TV shows. So I think a lot of it is that you build equity in their game, being able to show that you’re consistent with not just great work but good behavior, being on time, and just having good habits. All of these things equals to success in this business if you’re able to maintain that type of consistency.

TrunkSpace: Which is important when you’re spending 14 hour days together, all working towards the same end goal.
Maldonado: Yeah, the people who you know on set, you’re spending more time with these individuals than your family, or your wife, or your kids. So going back to what I said earlier, just having a good position on how to treat people and good energy, it all has an affect on those long hours and being able to work as a group towards one goal. We’re gearing up for the second season of “The Last O.G.” and we’re gonna be doing it for three and a half months, so to maintain that type of level of patience, consistency and good energy, it’s definitely work but it’s something that as a group we’re excited to do and we’re excited for the next season.

TrunkSpace: You said you enjoy the process of going out and finding the next project, but is it exciting when you get the second season order like you did with “The Last O.G.?” From an outside perspective it would seem more exciting because it validates that united “one goal” we were just talking about.
Maldonado: Of course! That’s growth. Definitely the evolution of the show is exciting. Knowing that we’re going into the second season – I’m also a writer for the show now – so just elevating on all fronts, being that now that we have our first season done and it’s aired, we kind of have all of the voices to the characters now. We’ve built a foundation. We’re now going into the second season and we could elaborate more. We can dig deeper because we’ve already introduced these characters and people are familiar with them so we can just dive a little deeper and explore and actually write towards our actors. When I signed on, the scripts were already done, so they didn’t write in my… they didn’t know they were going to cast me, nor Tiffany (Haddish), nor Cedric (the Entertainer). Going into this second season, we’re able to write towards the character and really hear their voices, and really be able to build on the foundation in Season 1. So that’s what’s exciting, just the evolution. Hopefully, God willing, we get our Season 3, Season 4, Season 5 – all those things – and we can continue to be excited.

TrunkSpace: And because of how successful the show was in its first season, it must be nice to have an extra layer of trust from the folks upstairs at the network?
Maldonado: Yes! I think us being the number one comedy on cable definitely gives us a great position in going forward with production is Season 2, and we’re already done with the writers room. So we start shooting in July, so the scripts are all turned in. They loved everything that we’re doing. I’m very excited. I feel that we’ve definitely stepped it up and tried to top ourselves for Season 2.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned that you’re a writer, but in addition to that, you’re also an entrepreneur and businessman. In this day and age, within this industry in particular, how important is it for someone to diversify themselves in as many different avenues as possible?
Maldonado: I think it’s very important to have multiple streams of income. Stemming from what your talent is or natural gift is, like acting is mine, everything kind of revolves around that. From my music company,  Get It Done Records, where we do music for TV and film placements, where that music is incorporated in film and television shows such as “Ray Donovan,” “House of Lies,” and “Acts of Violence” with Bruce Willis. To my kids foundation (Demo Nerds) where I teach acting and film to foster kids. Then there is my production company (Only Son Productions) where we’re producing, creating projects, and developing different shows for networks. And also, lastly, my app, Everybody Digital, where we’re creating short films and short-form platforms, and we’re creating original content, but also helping and adding more exposure to new filmmakers. All of these businesses and all of these things that I’m doing all revolve around acting, because acting is the sun and it energizes from there. Being able to diversify in the things that can bring in income for an actor… there’s seasons to all of this stuff… it gives you a little more room, a little more freedom, to be able to do the things you want rather than doing things you have to do to survive and pay your bills.

Maldonado with Tracy Morgan in “The Last O.G.”

TrunkSpace: And when you’re focused on just acting, you really hand over a big portion of your control because so much of your career fate winds up in the hands of casting directors, producers and executives.
Maldonado: Yes! I think that my biggest tip for all the actors that I run across that will ask the question is that you have to really look at yourself as a small business rather than a career. Acting is not a career, acting is a small business, being that you must invest in yourself, you must self-market and self-promote. You must work extra hours. That sounds closer to a small business rather than a career. In most careers you go work the eight hours and then you go home. You can leave it in the office. But in the small business, you’re working 20 hours out of the day and you’re constantly thinking how to elevate. As you continue to grow your small business, these studios or corporations begin to invest in you, so it’s your job as a small business to build your company up and build your brand enough that it can add the attention of these corporations and they feel confident in that art. “I request your services.” And that’s how I like to attack things and it just feels a little more direct and I have a clear target, rather than, I find a lot of actors just kind of throw a bunch stuff against the wall and hope it sticks.

TrunkSpace: So within those various creative and entrepreneurial avenues, does each one give you something different? Does your creative brain get something out of writing that it doesn’t from acting alone?
Maldonado: It’s all creative. I think my true gift is being able to create. My true love is that. It’s all different parts of the brain – in acting, in creating something that was on some paper or somebody’s idea, creating the actual person, and then there’s creating an entire world when it comes to writing. And then on the director’s side, being able to take those elements from the acting and the writing and be able to actually create a world visually. All these things stem from creating, and I find joy in that. And that’s the common denominator to everything that I do. So it all depends. It’s kind of like eating. It all depends if I feel like having a hamburger or a taco or Chinese. That’s how I feel about when it comes to being an artist with all the things that I do.

Photographer: Photographed by Steven Gerlich at Aesthesia Studios/Wardrobe Stylist: Daralyn Carter/Groomer: Bethany Garita

TrunkSpace: Do the parts of the brain ever crossover? When you’re writing, do you find yourself acting out a scene to see if it’s going to work?
Maldonado: Of course. Every time that I write I always envision the scene. I kind of see and I kind of act it out inside of my head. I play it out as clear as possible. That’s usually how I write. I write from a place of me really seeing it. I think that’s something that I really key in on when I’m writing, is that I really see everything. When I’m writing, I see the world, and that’s the best way for me to really execute it on paper, is that I really paint and kind of feel it. It’s just like in acting when it comes to auditioning. When you’re fully in the role, you have to create the world to really get the essence of what you’re feeling because the same thing you may say in a library may not have the same type of texture as it would as you’re saying it in an alley at two o’clock in the morning. So if you create these worlds, you can get that same type of feeling. And that’s what I do for writing. I kind of create the worlds, put myself in it, and then all of the words of the dialogue and the descriptions just fall right out.

TrunkSpace: Sounds like you have a director’s eye with everything you work on.
Maldonado: I call it “Inception.” That’s how I like to describe it, where I really put myself into this world and once I’m in there I can really dive in, whether it’s on the acting side, or it’s on the writing side, or it’s on the directing side – all those things. I like to try to put myself in “Inception” mode and see and really be in it.

TrunkSpace: We saw you refer to your new movie “SuperFly” as a remix rather than a remake. The original film has left such an impact, did you think it was important that this new version not be a straight remake and that it attempt to say something that the original did not?
Maldonado: I definitely think it was better for a remix because the original has had such a lasting affect on the culture of black cinema. I think if we tried to do it beat by beat, we couldn’t do it justice. And respecting, rather, the legend that “SuperFly” is, and being able to just branch off of it more than stand on the shoulders of the giant that “SuperFly” was and is, I think that was the best way and best angle to attack this particular project.

TrunkSpace: And what it could do is create it’s own audience, but then inspire those same people to go back and watch the original.
Maldonado: Exactly. It’s not in competition with the original. A lot of times remakes come in competition with the original and sometimes that can be difficult for all of the original fans of that particular project to kind of get over. But if you take it to another level, and again, just put a remix on it and make it inspired by, rather than beat by beat, I think you have a better shot at really satisfying both audiences – your new viewers and the people from the original.

“SuperFly” opens in theaters today.

Season 2 of “The Last O.G.” is currently in production.

For more information on Everybody Digital and to download the app, visit here.

Featured Image Credits
Photographer: Photographed by Steven Gerlich at Aesthesia Studios
Wardrobe Stylist: Daralyn Carter
Groomer: Bethany Garita

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