In the new Fox limited series Shots Fired, Yohance Myles plays a father trying to do what’s best for his son in an environment that is filled with racially charged injustice and shootings. At home, the father of five is juggling Hollywood with fatherhood—raising teens and toddlers under the same roof. Myles sat down with INBETWEEN for a frank talk about fatherhood, what it means to raise strong African-American teens and how he’s helping start an initiative to help other youths succeed.
By Rachel Naud
Photo Sean Richardson
Can you tell us about your new series, Shots Fired?
Shots Fired is a new Fox limited series that opens the dialogue in navigating viewers into one of the world’s most pressing issues, which continues to plague our very own country…racially charged injustices and shootings. I play a character named Leon Grant, the father of Cory Grant, who is an eyewitness to a tragic shooting in the series. Although Leon’s family resides in a community housing project called Gateway Station, it’s Leon’s duty to provide his family with the necessities of maintaining a suitable lifestyle. Leon is a hard-working father who believes in providing an honest way of living. He is a man of spiritual belief and family values. Leon Grant is faced with a difficult decision to do whatever it takes to protect his son.
How can you relate to your character on the show?
I share similar concerns to those of Leon Grant’s character in that I face my own personal fears of fulfilling my purpose as an African-American father in today’s evolving society. I always like to say, “In order to WIN, one must recognize that there is a RACE.” There are challenges in today’s world with parenting young African-American men to become productive leaders and successful citizens. I embrace and relate to Leon Grant’s goals to provide his family stability through work, education and value. The balance is to provide our sons with how to take ownership of one’s own identity, while identifying with the world’s view of racial profiling and inclusion.
In addition to acting, you’re a father of five kids—ages 15, 14, 12, 1 and a newborn. What is it like raising teens and toddlers together?
It is very exciting. I get a chance to let my older sons witness the challenges and joys of being an active father. The goal for me is to guide my sons in completing high school and eventually pursuing college/university life. The hope is that they consider creating their own family, one day, after establishing a stable life for themselves. My home always feels like experimental theatre because you never know what you are going to get on a daily basis from all of the different personalities residing under one roof.
What are you dealing with these days with your teens?
I know what you are thinking…girls! Well, the beauty of my conversations with them about girls and how you treat them, view them, and/or communicate with them, seems to hit home pretty easy whenever I ask the boys one question…“How would you want your sister to be treated?” My oldest just turned 16. We’ve already established trust-building conversations about sexual intercourse and the understanding of its pre-adult life consequences: pregnancy and parenting, drugs, alcohol, choosing good company to have as friends, scholastic excellence, protecting the family name and image, and other important topics. Each of my sons is uniquely different, so establishing open and honest communication is always a priority.
You are involved with the mentoring program, Go to High School; Go to College, where you help high school graduates transition into an academic institution of higher learning. Why is it important to you to do this? What have you learned through participating in this program?
What I have learned from Go to High School; Go to College is that there is a great number of students who are prepared and are excellent achievers, but there is still more work to be done for those who could get lost in the shuffle. It takes a village to raise a family…that family includes our youth…and that youth is the generation for tomorrow.
What is your advice to parents on supporting their own teens in their future endeavors?
I am an advocate of being very careful with understanding the interest and talents of our teens’ endeavors. We (parents) can either make or break their dreams. God has blessed us to be guiding lamps for them as they discover what their true path of existence and purpose might be. Always encourage and support them. ■
Shots Fired airs Wednesdays at 8 PM/7c on Fox.