One of the most fascinating things in life is what makes a legend, especially when the person who is considered as such grew up in the public spotlight of acting on television and in films. The person I’m referring to is Mr. Malcolm-Jamal Warner, who started his career on the world famous television sitcom “The Cosby Show.” However, looking past the iconic show into which Malcolm-Jamal is will not only change your perception on the qualifications but also the more important things that tend to be overlooked. The 7th Annual Legendary Awards has put an end to that problem.
First, there really is no age restriction to qualify, but one has to have reached a certain point in their lives when the achievements often taken for granted can be recognized as a benefit, rather than a hindrance. When asked what he thinks made him a legend, Malcolm-Jamal’s first reaction was to view that same question and ponder how he achieved the important status due to his age. However, after 30-years in the business of entertainment, advocacy, philanthropy and commitment, he was just as surprised as anyone that he was receiving the Trailblazer Award.
Although Cosby was an acting stepping stone, he has honed his craft to encompass musician, director, producer, writer and consultant. The Jersey City, NJ-native didn’t stop there though, because along the way he has been an important contributor to social causes. Raised and managed by a single-mother, his name is a combination of two powerful African-American historical figures: Malcolm X and jazz-pianist Ahmed Jamal. This may explain why he is comfortable being involved in such social issues as HIV awareness, actually recording a CD entitled “Love & Other Social Issues.” It was preceded by his debut EP, “The Miles Long Mixtape.” He is a bass guitar player, a performance poet, and has performed at the National Black Theatre Festival since 2003, in addition to hosting its Poetry Jam. In 2000, he appeared on a Tupac Shakur tribute CD entitled “The Rose That Grew From Concrete,” performing one of Tupac’s poetry pieces.
Still, Malcolm-Jamal is in demand after all these years because he is an accomplished professional. You may have caught him in several television projects on UPN, CBS, NBC, cable or just streaming. He is currently appearing in “Sneaky Pete,” and in May of this year look for him in “10 Days in the Valley.” He is aware of the grind and how hard it is to maintain employment in this business everyone wants to be a part of, but stresses there are no shortcuts.
“The grind is the grind. Often time’s people are so set upon trying to get in the business to get rich & famous when really the way the business is now you gotta have a lot of love for it. The grind is real; working actors have a 94% rejection rate and that’s those of us who are working, so it’s not a business for the thin-skinned. You have to expect ‘no’s’ all day long, but you have to be dedicated and committed enough to the craft to stay in it.”
- Joseph Walker, III