Meet Malik Yoba of ABC's 'Defying Gravity'

Today's cuppa: Decaf Mystic Monk coffee, medium roast

Here's my syndicated profile of one of ABC's space travelers...

Malik Yoba Is 'Defying Gravity' for ABC

By Kate O'Hare


Defying_Gravity_Malik_Yoba As spaceship commander Ted Shaw on ABC's Sunday science-fiction series "Defying Gravity," Malik Yoba is on a tour of the solar system. But for the 41-year-old actor, doing the series was more like time travel than space travel.

"I think every little boy thought about going into space," Yoba says. "As a kid, definitely, I was trying to be Captain Kirk.

"The first time I was on set and put on my spacesuit, I was like a little kid. A 41-year-old man reverts to being 5, because I've got my spacesuit on. I just thought it was the coolest thing."

And getting the job meant he didn't have to strap on a gun and a badge -- again.

"I'd just done a pilot right before this that didn't get picked up," he says. "I was a cop, for the ninth time in my career, and I was over being cops or lawyers. This was different. It was a different kind of thing.

"I read the pilot, and I said, 'I'm in.' "

Yoba also had to flash back on his philosophical past, since his character says he was raised a Buddhist.

"Originally, the character was written Asian, believe it or not," Yoba says. "It was Ted Cho. I wanted them to leave the last name as Cho; I thought that would be kind of cool.

"I did practice Buddhism at some point in my life, so although it didn't come from me, I related to it. There were a couple of scenes where I was able to inject some of my actual understanding of Buddhist principles into the script, so that was very cool.

"I loved that."

Yoba also likes the philosophy in the show's title, saying, "It speaks to a lot that the show will defy. I think it defies categorization, and I think it defies expectation."


Birthplace: Bronx , N.Y. , on Sept. 17, making him a Virgo.

Movie cred: "Cool Runnings" (1993), "Cop Land" (1997), "Soul Food" (1997), "Ride" (1998), "Dreaming in Black and White" (2002), "Vote for Me" (2003), "Criminal" (2004), "Oh Happy Day" (2004), "Kids in America" (2005), "Slur" (2005), "They're Just My Friends" (2006), "Feel the Noise" (2007), "Rockaway" (2007), "Why Did I Get Married?" (2007 -- and he's working on the sequel).

TV cred: "New York Undercover," "For Your Love," "Trinity," "Bull," "Kingpin," "The Twilight Zone," "The Days," "Arrested Development," "Thief," "That's So Raven," "Raines," "Girlfriends," "CSI: Miami."


Favorite book: "I read a lot of books that explore the human condition, whether it's Wayne Dyer or Deepak Chopra or David Deida or Don Miguel Ruiz or Kahlil Gibran. I like books that inform me about the human condition, relationships, psychology, that kind of stuff. I'm very interested in how we relate and connect with each other."

Favorite music: "Some of my favorite music is certainly my own, because I'm actually a musician. I've been recording since January working to finish this project. I'm excited, because I've been a musician forever and haven't had a chance to really do it at the level that I wanted to do it. But two of my favorite artists ever are Bob Marley and Sam Cooke."

Favorite movie: "'West Side Story,' because it did something to me as a kid -- my God. I grew up doing musical theater, and I played Tony in a high-school production of 'West Side Story,' just the magic of that for me. I grew up without television, because my father wouldn't have a television in the house. I remember seeing it at a friend's house and thinking, 'Wow, there's something magical about that.'"