Sure, Marvin Jones III plays corrupt politician turned gang leader Tobias Whale on The CW’s Black Lightning. But, the actor hopes his evil will inevitably contribute to the greater good.
The series, which depicts the first African American superhero family on network TV, “is definitely needed,” he opines, noting they tackle issues of racism and social injustice “right out of the gate. I know I’m the bad guy, but I enjoy creating this necessity for something good.”
Another topic he’ll highlight: Albinism, which both the rapper — known as Krondon — and his character live with. “It’s a huge responsibility to display the limitless possibilities that someone with a genetic disposition, or any difference, can use to their advantage,” Jones says. “This is my opportunity to discredit any stereotypes of someone that has a difference, and show true ability and skill.”
He gets into action with Us.
Us Weekly: What’s the appeal of Tobias Whale?
Marvin Jones III: Well, he’s an ex-politician and underworld boss in Freeland, the world of Black Lighting. There, you have a single dad raising two beautiful daughters, who also have superpowers. For me, to come in and be the antagonist in such a positive world is a really fun thing. And there’s a similarity being African-American and having Albinism. It’s a perfect fit. Although, in the comic book, he’s a much larger man. I am a much sexier version. At least, that’s my opinion!
Us: What motivates Tobias?
MJ: He wants more control, destruction and manipulation. He’s a heinous overlord, but his acts have layered reasoning. His power completes him, but what is missing in order for him to be completed that way? It is going to be very fun and interesting to see it unfold.
Us: How does the show mirror today’s society?
MJ: It’s based off of the social injustice that we’re facing right now, where racism is right now in the world. Black Lightning is a way to make it a conversation at the dinner table or while you’re throwing football in the backyard. Whatever it may be! It’s a way to fuse the realities we face in 2018 with entertainment. We’re able to create escapism and make sure we are focused on growth as a people.
Us: Growing up with Albinism, were you faced with ridicule and doubt?
MJ: To be completely honest, throughout my career and my life, I have been faced with adversities that come via the ignorance of my own people and the internal pendulum that swings from African-American shades and differences in color. But, that was based in ignorance. Admittedly, it gave me a complex. I must say, through the grace of God and through a change in thought process, I made it an advantage. Everything that I was told in life I could not do, I made a point to actually do. I think that that’s why, with a character like a Tobias Whale, who also has Albinism, I was able to create a world and a back story for him.
Black Lightning airs on The CW Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET.
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