Our interview with up and coming actor Yohance Myles from FOX limited series, Shots Fired, created by Gina Prince Bythewood and Reggie Rock Bythewood (creators of Beyond the Lights, Love & Basketball, and Notorious).
Myles plays Leon Grant, who is the father of Cory Grant, an eyewitness to a tragic shooting in the series. Although Leon’s family resides in a community housing project called Gateway Station, it’s Leon’s duty to provide his family with the necessities of maintaining a suitable lifestyle. Leon Grant is faced with a difficult decision to do whatever it takes to protect his son.
Yohance recently wrapped production on the feature film Created Equal alongside Lou Diamond Phillips and Aaron Tveit. Myles plays defense attorney Willis “Silk” Thompkins, the brains of the firm and the best friend to Tveit’s character, Tommy Reilly. This film addresses the fight for religious and racial equality for a woman named Alejandra Baptiste, a Catholic Nun, who wants to become a priest in the Catholic church but is denied. Previous film credits include Fire with Fire alongside Bruce Willis, Josh Duhamel, and 50 Cent; as well as Hours with Paul Walker, Home Sweet Hell with Katherine Heigl, and Two Guns with Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg just to name a few.
Hi Yohance please tell us a little about yourself?
Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, I spent most of my life in the South and credits the majority of my success to his upbringing. I knew I wanted to be an actor at a very young age and my mother helped build the support system I needed in order to pursue my dreams. I continued to fuel my passion for the arts in high school by participating in art and drama programs. After watching Denzel Washington’s performance in the film John Q, I knew I wanted to be a part of the entertainment industry. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Performance Acting at Alabama State University and earned my Masters of Fine Arts in Acting from Louisiana State University. While I had always dreamed of a career in acting, it wasn’t until I got my big break as an extra in the film Stomp the Yard alongside Columbus Short and Meagan Good that I knew it could become a reality. I took my experiences I had on set as one of the most fulfilling moments of my life. A few years later, I booked my first lead role as Tony in the film Finding a Good Man. Television viewers best know me for my lead role as Clyde on the USA series Common Law alongside Michael Ealy and Warren Cole. I also had large recurring roles recently on series such as “Containment” and “Into the Badlands” as well as “The Originals”. I also guest-starred on hit shows including: NCIS: New Orleans, Blue Bloods, Constantine. Continuing my success on the small screen, I set to star in the FOX limited series, Shots Fired, which is premiering March 22nd. I also established the Yohance Myles “The BEing Within Actor’s” Studio Session Inc. to help guide inspiring actors with knowledge and life skills to sustain themselves and their talent in the competitively growing entertainment industry.
Who was your role model as a child?
Mother was my role model in the sense of displaying a determined and hard-working African-American woman who was not settling for anything less to provide my sister and brothers with every affordable opportunity to succeed in life. Denzel Washington from John Q.
How’s a typical day in your life?
A typical day for me includes working as a full time professor at the University on MWF; if I am not working on a film/television/stage production I am pretty much spending time with my wife and children. Family time is highly important to me.
What was your first acting role?
My first stage production was the WIZ; my first film acting role was Derrick Johnson in Jump Out Boys; and my first television series role was on K-Ville.
Do you have or had acting classes?
My acting training consist of a BA degree in Performing Arts (Alabama State University); MFA in Acting (LSU). I am currently a professor of Theatre/Film acting at Jackson State University. I have my own “Being Within” Acting Studio Sessions I have monthly for inspiring actors/actresses who want to learn more about the business and their creative art form of storytelling.
Who has made the biggest impact on your life so far, and why?
My children are the biggest impact on my life because they look to me for guidance and the hope of believing dreams can come true. They motivate me so much to work smarter at making sure that I leave behind a strong legacy for them and myself. Of course, my wife is another precious impact in my life at this moment because she is so patience, supporting, and loving towards me as continue to provide for them a comfortable lifestyle.
How do you prepare for a role?
Preparing for a role depends on what particular story and/or character I am portraying. Besides reading the script several times, I try to learn as much as I can about the character from the writer’s point of view. In some cases, I study what the other characters’ relationships are connection to my character. If I have to do extensive research on a role, I then rely on a mentor, acting coach expert, and constituents in a given discipline or profession for advice.
Please tell us about “Shots Fired” and about your role as Leon Grant?
“Shots Fired” is mini-series that can only provide a platform for our country, communities, and citizens of America to participate in the cause of advocating real change and growth in our country along the lines of inequality/injustices for ALL races of people in general. The truth of life stands on its own. The work we create as actors/actresses can be highly judged or opinionated by many viewers, so I don’t expect for this show to solve any problems that will still require the involvement of everyone and others such as politicians, governors, senators, clergy and those who hold influential positions to bring about some continued sense of awareness. I play a character named Leon Grant, the father of Cory Grant, who is an eye witness to a tragic shooting in the series. Although Leon’s family resides in a community housing project called Gateway Station, it’s Leon’s duty to provide his family with the necessities of maintaining a suitable lifestyle. Leon is a hard working father who believes in providing an honest way of living. He is man of spiritual belief and family values. Leon Grant is faced with a difficult decision to do whatever it takes to protect his son.
What is next for Yohance Myles?
I just completed filming a movie called “Created Equal” directed by Bill Duke that is creating a nice buzz about its anticipated theatrical release. I play one of the lead defense lawyer named Willis Thompkins. I am still awaiting a few follow up on some projects I am in consideration to be a part of. I just finished shooting another horror suspense project last fall “Demons” directed by Miles Doleaq. I will soon start the filming process for another film this year called “Angel of Vengeance” directed by Wade Patterson in which I play the lead character Felix. Other upcoming film projects include: Soul Damage, Judgment Day, and Boarding House.
Who is your favorite Actor/Actress? And why?
I would consider Don Cheadle has one of my top actor’s I admire. The way he transforms himself into the roles he portrays. He is a very versatile and dynamic actor. I am also an admirer of Johnny Depps acting career
Any advice to new young actors?
Read, study, learn about what goes on behind the scenes just as much as you understand acting for the camera, don’t compromise your beliefs or values, don’t abuse your gifts/talents, acknowledge the Creator in all that you do, and remember there is a season for everything. Enjoy the process… it’s the guiding lamp for perfection.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I hope that I am a whole lot further and wiser than where I am in life now.
What was the last book you read?
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
What would be the dream holiday, and who would you go with?
A dream holiday would be spending it in a place warm, beautiful, and meditative. Maybe somewhere like Sugar Beach, St. Lucia. And I would definitely take my wife because it’s challenging some times to get away from the children and enjoy each other.
What do you do in your free time?
Rest and spend time with the family. I like to read, go visit my wife’s family in Oxford, MS, go visit my mother and siblings in Birmingham, AL, and occasionally sit outside and enjoy God and mother nature. Seldom, I like to visit my extended family who resides in the country life of Mississippi. That’s where I go sometimes to refresh my mind and creativity.
Do you support any charities?
Of course I am a proud advocate of charitable organizations that support the performing arts. I am a National Spokesperson for the SCL Foundations (Civil and Human Rights Awareness), Just an Inch Productions (Homelessness Prevention), NAMI (Mental Illness Awareness Prevention) and The BEing Within Acting Studio LLC (Artist/Actor Empowerment Organization).
What do you think of Social Media in the Entertainment business?
Social Media is the new PR and Branding tool for artist/entertainers. It allows many of us to display our many talents/gifts. It provides a quicker way to network with people and business. But it is also a means of global access and communication that has to be managed with great responsibility and wisdom.
Best advice ever given?
Everything you need; you already have.
Don’t offend the crocodile before you cross the river.
Where we can follow you?
You can follow me on:
Quote: Where there is no enemy within; the enemy outside cannot harm you. (African proverb)
Book: The Bible; and any good book that empowers me to think and imagine.
Sports Team: North Carolina Panthers (Joe Webb III #14 is my baby brother on the team)
Food: Anything that keeps me healthy.
Movie: John Q
Song: Sailing (Avant’s version)
TV Show: Sanford and Son and the ones that will hire me to work as an actor. (lol)
Photo: Birdie Thompson
Grooming: Joseph Adivari