We had the good fortune of connecting with Malik Johnson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Malik, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
The Aries overachiever, only child syndrome kicks in whenever I’m feeling down, anytime someone says I can’t do something it’s like an ignition switch and I have to get it done. In all seriousness being an artist has its ups and downs like anything else. There have been plenty of times when a song or performance doesn’t turn out how I want it or an audition doesn’t go well. People may not always receive the art or the message the way you intend and that can be really challenging when every piece of content I release is extremely personal. Daily challenges include writers block or not feeling motivated and inspired to create all the time. I’ve had some low points as an artist but God has always allowed signs to show me I’m on the right path. It’s usually subtle like a small breakthrough “aha” moment while writing, or a random person commenting on a post saying they really vibe with my music. I’ve also had my fair share of “I want to do that” moments from my peers whenever I post about a new record, concert, or acting gig. Whenever someone says they can relate to my music or that I inspired them in any way it makes every part of the struggle worthwhile and lets me know that I’m doing something right.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Growing up I always said I wanted to be a judge, businessman, or engineer, something that could turn into a really big career. Acting came first and it was the most natural , according to my parents I was Mr. Personality at commercial auditions when I was a toddler. I even won a mall modeling contest in middle school by reciting poetry for the talent portion, with the judges commenting that I belong on a Tyler Perry show. I wrote my first song at about 12 or 13, I can’t even remember what the song was about. Creative Writing was always my strongest subject in school and eventually led to songwriting, short stories, and scripts. As I got older I put my artistic ambitions on the back burner due to them not being the norm. In my community most high school boys are focused on girls, football, or basketball not anything artistic. As I started to come into my own I quit the schools tennis team to join the step team, I got involved with the theatre program and started to finally feel at ease. I ended up attending Howard University in DC as a hospitality major minoring in marketing. The experience of going to one of the best HBCUs in the country is something I will never forget, I learned so much about myself as a person and as an artist. I started to come out of my shell and do open mic nights on campus, I even auditioned for Empire and got a job as character tour guide at the spy museum. Once I moved back to Texas I battled depression and made the decision to give music and acting a full shot. Four projects later I’m creeping closer to my music hitting the 500k streaming milestone in over 22 countries. I’ve done several short films, tv, and commercial gigs and I’m actively working towards my breakout roll. It hasn’t been an easy road but I have learned that tenacity, professionalism, and learning to take constructive criticism can take you very far.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If anybody in my squad wanted to visit the DFW area I’d have to prepare them for the weather. I’d advise they visit in the spring when the weather is normal, once May comes outside is an inferno and the winter weather is too unpredictable. Fly in through Love Field airport, the view of the Dallas skyline is great at night. In Fort Worth the stockyards are the touristy thing to do especially if a person is into cowboy culture and West 7th Street is always a party. Trinity park is a really peaceful place to fish or ride bikes. Texas has some of the best fried chicken and best bbq spots around, as a Texan you have to eat at Babe’s and Whataburger at least once. There is always something fun to do at Cowboys Stadium or Globe Life Field. The Perot Museum in Dallas and the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth have something for everyone. Six Flags is great for thrill seekers and Fossil Rim is great for animal lovers. Anybody who visits Texas should expect a laid back time with some really good food and wild weather.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’m not alone on this journey as an artist. I’m very grateful that God has blessed me with talent and opportunities along with some amazing people who have been supportive along the way. My mom is always front row at every show and sends out updates to the family regularly, last Christmas I recorded a cover of the song “Mary Did You Know” and it ended up being our unofficial Christmas card. My theatre teachers Bethany White-Turner, Ryan Machen and my acting coach Douglass Davidson have all had played a large role in growing my skillset as an actor. Melodie Brookins has been my vocal coach, vocal producer and go to music person since I met her my senior year of high school. My right hand Kelea Laws always steps in and is pretty much my manager, assistant and go to PR person whenever I need her. Janel Strong aka Miss Nella E has been a really good friend of mine for years and is always willing to allow me to use her platform. My cousins Hakeem and Nichole are always around for some sound creative advice from a more experienced perspective. Nichole always helps with my live shows and Hakeem is my go to photographer, he’s even cleared his schedule to come with me to New York for an audition. It’s honestly far too many people to name overall my family, friends, and even a few former coworkers have all been really supportive and I’m truly grateful.
Hakeem Adewumi Terrance Jones Kelea Laws