Up Close with Actor Malaika Jackson
Accomplished actor Malaika Jackson shares in a Q&A when her acting career began, and how she successfully manages her career, raising a family, and following a healthy lifestyle.
Q: You were Miss Caribbean Canada, and an MTV host/producer, did these roles or skill set help prepare you to become an accomplished actor?
A: Definitely!!! Before the pageant, I suffered from a lot of self-worth issues. I struggled to truly believe in myself, my academic abilities, and my capabilities. Winning the pageant gave me a lot of confidence. It was almost like a butterfly coming out of their cocoon. I totally changed my image of my self-worth and started to get more confidence. A few years later, I was scouted for MTV and then asked to audition. I got the job with no experience and worked as a full-time host/producer for two years. These experiences helped me realize that I truly loved media and I wanted to pursue it further. Ultimately, they led me towards my destiny, which is acting. If it wasn’t for these chance encounters that happened to me, I definitely would have never got into acting. I’m truly grateful for both experiences!
Q: At what pivotal moment did you know you wanted to become an actor and what does it take to be successful?
A: To be honest, acting was just something I started doing for fun but then my agents started noticing that I was booking commercials pretty seamlessly and they kept telling me I should take acting more seriously and do it on a full-time level. Around the time I booked my 40th commercial or so, I woke up one morning to a bunch of text messages and calls from my friends saying that they saw me on ELLEN. I was clueless because I never actually went on the show. Little did I know, that Ellen DeGeneres caught hold of a commercial I starred in for the Pyeong Chang Olympics called “Love over Bias”
I’m a huge fan of Ellen and I couldn’t believe that she was actually airing my commercial. That was the confidence boost I needed to finally start taking acting 100% seriously. I’m still doing commercials full-time but I’m also now dabbling into the fabulous world of film and television as well! It takes a lot of diligent work and constant training to be successful. You have to really understand yourself as an artist and your craft. That takes a lot of practice!
Q: Tell us about your fitness regime and does it help you in other areas in your career?
A: Well, in the last 4 years I had two babies so, to be honest, I had a bit of weight to lose…(laughs) I worked very hard to get back down to size again and worked heavily with a personal trainer and was able to drop 40 lbs.- which was all the additional weight from pregnancy. I now go to the gym 4-5 days a week and work out very hard to stay fit. Absolutely, staying fit will help my career. My ultimate goal would be to play a villain in an action movie so I need to be super fit and ripped….(laughs)
Q: How do you manage motherhood, family, career, and keeping in shape?
A: Motherhood is by far the hardest and most rewarding job I’ve ever done but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Balancing career, family, time with the kids and hubby is not easy. However, I’m in a phase where I’m the happiest in my life so mastering time management is important so that everyone has time with me! My boys are 1.5 years old and 4 and yes, absolutely they work out with me. They do sit-ups and I’m teaching them push-ups too! When I was younger, I was involved in many sports including gymnastics and softball, I sucked at both….(laughs)… but I was really good at basketball and played for my city. However, most of my friends and family will probably agree that my claim to fame was martial arts. I was a super competitive martial artist- who was classically trained in the art of taekwondo and kickboxing….so it’s super important for my little ones to play sports and my family to stay very fit and healthy!
Q: Do you have a favorite dish you would like to share?
A: I’m Caribbean so our food has an immense amount of flavor and spices. I do love to cook but my meals are quite complicated to make and frankly, took me years to perfect! But here is a super easy one that everyone can try- CURRY SHRIMP!!!
3 tbsp flour
¼ cup water
3 tbs spoon oil
2 medium onions, diced
1 green onion diced
2 cloves of garlic (you can use additional garlic powder as well if you like)
1 bag of shrimp
· In a small cup whisk together the flour and water
· Then sauté the onions, garlic and curry powder
· Add flour and water to the mixture and stir for a few minutes then put all the other ingredients in and cook until shrimp is fully cooked.
So DELICIOUS and, like I said, SUPER EASY!!! You’re welcome ….(laughs)
Q: What would be one thing that people may not know about you?
A: The absolute lowest point of my life was when I was in high school. I was constantly bullied and made fun of in high school. I was really skinny, with braces. No boys wanted to date me. I had an awkward appearance and was put down by the boys and girls in my high school on a day-to-day basis. I was so unhappy and upset every day that I lost all hope. It was an extremely negative time for me. My grades started slipping, my teachers were worried about me. I sunk so far into a depression that I even thought about suicide. If it wasn’t for being scouted in McDonald’s by a local pageant scout and encouraged to do the pageant, I don’t know where I would be. Winning the pageant not only gave me confidence, it literally saved my life. Now, after a successful career in media, I really enjoy giving back to women who are trying to break into the entertainment industry. I know the feeling of not believing in yourself. Nothing brings me more joy than seeing other people succeed!
Q: How does it make you feel looking back on the start of your career and could you share any tips?
A: I’ve dealt with a lot of people who tried to break me and tell me I wasn’t good enough. When the bullies in high school found out I was doing a beauty pageant, they laughed at me every day and told me I would never succeed. I’ve had people tell me that I would never make it in media, that I do not belong on camera, or that there is no market for me. At first, it used to get to me but then one day I just stopped allowing people to put me in a box and decided to reach for my dreams anyway. Looking back at my career makes me feel happy that I chose to go for my dreams despite all the nay-sayers! My advice is to never let anyone’s opinion of you become your reality. People are allowed to think whatever they want but it doesn’t mean you have to buy into their beliefs. Focus on your dreams and goals and don’t stop until you achieve them!
Q: What is next for you?
A: The goal is a lead in a TV series and MOVIES, MOVIES, and more MOVIES!!!! (laughs)
Q: Anything else you like to share?
A: I’m super happy to announce that I have two movies coming out this year: Little Fish & Flora and Ulysses. In the movie Little Fish, I play a clinician. It’s about a couple who fights to hold their relationship together as a memory loss virus spreads and threatens to erase the history of their love and courtship. It’s a pandemic movie! How coincidental in 2020 right? The second movie that’s coming out this year is Disney’s Flora & Ulysses, it’s about the adventures of a young girl and a squirrel with superpowers. I play an animal control officer. Both movies have been delayed due to Covid-19 but are scheduled to come out sometime this year!