You might recognize Allen Maldonado from Black-ish or You’re The Worst, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg! With more than 70 film and television credits to his name, this rising young actor has been hard at work for over a decade. His latest role has paired him up with none other than Tracy Morgan, for TBS’ new comedy The Last O.G. We talked to Maldonado about his hustle, and what it’s been like to link up with one of Hollywood’s most beloved showbiz veterans. Check out our interview below, and be sure to catch new episodes of The Last O.G., Tuesdays at 10:30/9:30c only on TBS.
You’re incredibly ambitious, and seem to always be working on multiple projects. How did you first get involved with The Last O.G.?
Honestly, it was just the traditional audition process! I went through several auditions, and finally ended with a screen test where I met Tracy, and we had instant chemistry. We improv-ed for 15 minutes straight, and we didn’t touch one line from the audition. So I think from that moment it was clear that we really gelled.
You play Tracy’s cousin in the show, who’s basically helping him adjust to the world after he’s been in jail for fifteen years. What’s it been like working with Tracy? You have a ton of acting experience under your belt, but it must have been really nice to work with such a showbiz veteran like him.
Oh man, he’s incredible! Not to even pun off of the show, but he’s my O.G.! He’s a straight up Brooklyn cat. He’s someone that I look up to. He’s been the mentor and big brother that I never had. He’s the kind of guy that opens his heart and just gives. He’s always said to me, “I want to push you up. I want you stand on my shoulders.” I really appreciate that, because he didn’t have to be open like that with me. He could have just done his thing, and let me do my thing. But instead he wants to help me, and have me under his wing. He’s teaching me a lot about how to be a lead, and how to be a star. So I owe him a lot!
The show is produced by Jordan Peele. Can fans expect to see his brand of wit come through?
I think you can see his fingerprints throughout the show. This is a brainchild between him and Tracy Morgan, and it’s interesting to see that play out in the show. The stories we tell may sound crazy and outlandish, but these are the stories that have been pulled straight from Tracy’s life—and Jordan has put his spin on it. I’m excited for people to see what he was able to create.
The show was filmed primarily in Brooklyn—what was the energy like as you filmed?
The response from the Brooklyn natives was magical! I witnessed four people get extremely emotional and cry when they met Tracy. They were so thankful and happy that he was still alive after his near fatal accident. It was profound to see the effect he has on his fans, and from the community he came from. They’re inspired by him, and seeing him back in action was really exciting for everyone!
You’ve been part of some projects with really strong ensemble casts like Black-ish, and now you’re co-starring with Tracy and Tiffany Haddish. Do you think this is a result of where your career has organically taken you? Do you look for these kinds of strong ensembles when you’re taking on a new project?
I mean, I’ve been blessed! It’s been a blessing to be fortunate enough to join these incredible shows. Black-ish is going to be held up as a legendary show, and for me to be a part of something like that is crazy. And then to be able to land a role on a show with Tracy, Tiffany, Cedric [the Entertainer], and Oscar Award-winning Jordan Peele, is another one! So I can definitely give all glory to God. It’s a blessing that I’ve been able to find myself in these positions.
Like I said, you’re always working on a million different projects, so I know The Last O.G. is not the only thing that you’re currently working on! What else do you have going on right now?
Well, I have a film called SuperFly that’s coming out in June. But the thing that I’m really focused on right now is my app. I have an app called Everybody Digital. It’s a film app with a focus on short films. We’ve sort of been dubbed the short film version of Netflix, as we’ve been curating short films from around the world and producing original content. From original short films, to original digi-series, everything on the app is 20 minutes or less. So that’s something that’s dear to me heart. Building and providing exposure for a lot of these short film makers is amazing. A lot of our favorite actors, producers, directors all started through short films. I think it’s time for the world to really appreciate what short film-making is all about. And as short form has exploded, I think it’s the perfect time!