Take a Bow


3909-yohance1

Written by Lindsey Osborne Photography by Birdie Thompson Grooming by Joseph Adivari

Yohance Myles never experienced that one big breakout role that changed everything overnight. But that’s not to say he doesn’t know what it means to make it. Instead of a breakout role, the 36-year-old actor—raised in Ensley—has found that a steady stream of successes, combined with years of perseverance and a little faith, have landed him in a place he’s spent years dreaming of being: the big screen. “I honestly feel like success is contingent upon where your heart lies. I am a firm believer of a Bible verse that says, ‘Be it unto me according to thy word,’” Myles says. “God, heart, and mind are the compasses that guide you toward your dreams. You are what you eat.”

If that last part is true, then what Myles has been eating—or drinking, rather—the last two decades is a cocktail of hard work, talent, and good luck. After graduating from Ensley High School in 1998, he received his Bachelor’s in Performing Arts from Alabama State University and his Master’s in Fine Arts from Louisiana State University. From there, he landed his first role as an extra in Stomp the Yard, and he knew then that his dream of being an actor could become a reality. What followed proved him right: his first lead role as Tony in the film Finding a Good Man; another lead as Clyde in the USA TV series Common Law; and recurring roles in Containment, Into the Badlands, and The Originals, among others. His newest projects include Fox’s upcoming series Shots Fired—an examination into our criminal justice system and the racial climate of America—and the feature film Created Equal, a commentary on women’s rights, which is set to appear at the Sunscreen Film Festival in St. Petersburg, Florida, this year. Myles plays a lead defense attorney named Willis Thompson in the film. “Created Equal is about a Catholic nun in pursuit of becoming a Catholic priest. This movie is all about women’s rights and the fight for religious/spiritual freedom,” he shares. “I mean, who would want to miss out on working alongside the likes of Lou Diamond Phillips, Gregory Allen William (Greenleaf), Edy Ganem (Devious Maid), and Aaron Tveit (GraceLand)?”

Myles is adamant that he built his career on the foundation created by his upbringing, namely by his mother. “It is so important for parents to be very patient and diligent to nurture and guide their children to discovering their God-given gifts. My mother also knew the importance of spiritual awareness and devotion to Christ. Those vital elements have remained close to my heart, which has further protected and motivated me to achieve the best for my life and family,” he says.

He also notes that though he lives in Mississippi now with his wife and four children (plus one on the way), growing up in Birmingham was a pivotal part of his coming of age. “It was wonderful and at times very adventurous,” he says. “Although I am an ’80s baby, the ’90s brought a dynamic culture shift for most of us who could remember. There are so many societal issues that have either stemmed from or dictated the South’s experience for influencing a guy like me to appreciate Birmingham’s rich historical impact on the world.

“Birmingham has made me so well prepared to tackle the adversities and diverse experiences that helped shape my view of life,” he continues. “Our past helps tell us who we were, our present gives us understanding to where we are, and the future is woven into both the past and present…it’s all about seeing where you want to be.”

Myles is certainly finding that to be true in his own life. He says that one of the most gratifying experiences he’s had so far was a true full-circle moment that happened on the set of the movie 2 Guns when he got to work alongside one of his acting heroes, Denzel Washington. It was after watching Washington’s performance in John Q that Myles knew he wanted to become an actor. “The movie John Q is such an amazing story,” he says. “Denzel Washington’s authentic performance moved me in such a way that it inspired me to pursue a career in storytelling but more so, a career in creating work that helps change, heal, or advance the human development. Working alongside Denzel was a momentous opportunity. It’s one thing to aspire to be like someone you deem as iconic, but it’s another thing to have them personally inspire you to strive for excellence. Watching Denzel put his all into creating 2 Guns was breathtaking.”

In addition to acting, Myles is also a professor at Jackson State University, where he teaches theater and film acting courses, and serves through a plethora of philanthropic and community service outlets. Perhaps most notable is his own—the Yohance Myles “The Being Within Actor’s” Studio Session Inc. to help guide aspiring actors by sharing life skills singular to the career. With Shots Fired, Created Equal, and a host of other exciting opportunities on the horizon, Myles says that he’s happy to ride the wave and see where it goes. “I have been able to sustain by the grace of God and my faith, family, and love for acting, and to raise my children within this competitive and complex career in Hollywood,” he says. “I am excited about what’s to come in the near future, but I try not to look ahead so much. I honestly feel like I have successfully mastered the art of patience. It’s all about the process. Remember: It’s not about perfection.” 

Leave a Reply