Check out our interview with Jackson State University Professor and actor Yohance Myles. Myles is an Alabama State University alumni; during his time there he was involved in student government, acting, and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. We asked Myles about his transition to acting and his roles in Shots Fired and Fire with Fire (alongside Bruce Willis, Josh Duhamel, and 50 Cent). Myles also provides advice and words of wisdom for collegiettes interested in a career in this field.
Photo Credit: Birdie Thompson and Grooming Joseph Adivari
Her Campus: Where did you go to college? What was your major? If possible, what is your graduation year?
Yohance Myles: I am a graduate of Alabama State University in Montgomery, AL. I received my B.A in Performing Arts and graduated in 2006. I also attended graduate school at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA. I received my MFA in Acting and graduated from there in 2009.
HC: Do you have any favorite memories from college?
YM: Most of my memorable moments were those created within ASU’s Dramatic Guild Theatre Department. I had an amazing teacher, director, and mentor named Dr. Tonea Stewart, who made my academic and acting training experience fun and unforgettable.
HC: What activities were you involved in during your time in college? How do you think those affected life post-college?
YM: My freshman year I served as campus senator and worked on the SGA committee. As I matriculated throughout my collegiate years I became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. These organizations along with other various activities helped shaped my leadership skills, social networking preparation, and most importantly they allowed me to navigate through life with a clear understanding of team collaboration. No one gets through life ALONE.
HC: What inspired you to get into acting? Do you have any advice for students interested in working in the entertainment industry?
YM: I became interested in acting because of the art of storytelling and the creative imprint it leaves in the world. Acting is a spiritual connection to life and human beings. It inspires, irritates, heals, ignites imagination/creativity, and is the interdisciplinary of all professions. It doesn’t discriminate, operate by racism/color, but it allows the human heart to grow according to his/her own measure of artistic expression.
HC: What can you tell us about your role as Leon Grant in Shots Fired? What can we expect from this series?
YM: Leon Grant is the father to Cory Grant who is suspected to be a key eye witness to one of the murders in Shots Fired. Leon Grant is a hard-working guy searching for answers and will do anything possible to protect his family. Shots Fired is a 10-episodic drama that uniquely exams our criminal justice system. Viewers will experience how the autopsy elements of investigations help individuals better gain insight from its various lens/perspectives. Shots Fired series was inspired by past racially charged shootings and injustices in America particularly the verdict of Trayvon Martin. The series was produced and written by Reggie and Gina Bythewood. It airs on FOX at 8pm/7pm CST.
HC: What was it like working alongside Bruce Willis, Josh Duhamel, and 50 Cent in Fire with Fire?
YM: Fire with Fire (2011) was indeed a fun movie for me. I played a lead agent named Deputy Parker who was responsible for protecting Jeremy Coleman played by Josh Duhamel. This project was shot in New Orleans. The all-star cast was a dynamic group of talented and fun actors. I had the wonderful pleasure of working with the director, David Barrett, three years later in a guest starring role on Blue Bloods (2013) episode Operational Hazardous. It’s all about building relationships.
HC: Can you tell us about your involvement with the SCL Foundation?
YM: I currently serve as the National Spokesperson for the SCL Foundation. I express and advocate Quantum Responsibility which is the active process of using innovation and creativity responsibly to empower individuals, families, and communities to take a quantum leap toward infinite possibilities. The SCL Foundation was founded by legendary Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier in 1966. This foundation was a critical part of the Civil Rights Movement throughout the 1960’s; the SCL was instrumental in financing protest activities led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
HC: When you aren’t busy filming these amazing movies, you are a professor. Which classes do you teach and why is teaching so important to you?
YM: I am a Professor of Acting at Jackson State University. I teach mainly ALL courses involving theatre: Intro to Theatre, Fundamental of Acting, Study of Black Theatre, Creative Dramatics, Independent Study, Production Lab, Acting for the Camera, History of Theatre I & II, Advanced Acting, etc. I also serve as fight choreographer, and movement specialist (Tai Chi). Teaching is highly important to me for three reasons:
- It highlights the importance of knowledge converted into experience.
- It inspires my students outside of the classroom setting
- I am a firm believer that just because someone read “it” in a book, it doesn’t mean they can teach “it”. My body of professional work clearly defines that I can execute “it”.
HC: What advice do you have for your students as well as college students everywhere who are interested in a career in the entertainment field?
YM: My advice to students or inspiring actors/actresses interested in a career in the entertainment field is this:
Be true to thyself.
Don’t take short cuts to success; you might have to deal with long term effects.
Be kind, understanding, and patient with those special people you cross paths with.
Never forget home.
Always give back to someone else coming up the success ladder behind you.
Give credit where credit is due. You didn’t get to where you are by yourself.
Stay positive. If opportunity doesn’t knock then build a door.