EXCLUSIVE: Black Lightning's Marvin Jones reveals his intimate connection with Tobias Whale and living in the grey areas
The Big Bad of 'Black Lightning' also reveals how prejudice drove Tobias to a world of crime
If you're a fan of 'Black Lightning,' it is impossible that you haven't been impressed and even a little scared of the big bad of the show, Tobias Whale. Unlike every other superhero show on The CW — read, 'The Flash', Supergirl, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow – 'Black Lightning' has refused to follow the weekly villain format in order to focus on the back story of the primary baddie; and how rewarding this creative choice as been for the viewers.
Tobias Whale, played by rapper-turned-actor Marvin “KRONDON" Jones III, is one of the best characters on the show. He rules the despicable underbelly of Freeland, where criminals are running amuck, but we get to see how the prejudice against the black albino man had a huge hand in turning him into the crime lord we all love to hate.
Marvin spoke to Meaww regarding Tobias' future on the show. Stay tuned till the end to find out if we will get any original "KRONDON" music for 'Black Lightning':
Meaww: How excited were you about bringing a black albino man on screen, especially one whom we get to see as a three-dimensional character whose life story we get to see?
Marvin: Excited is not the word! I’m actually honored and privileged to be playing this role and to portray such an unseen character and disposition. It’s a dream come true.
Meaww: Could you educate us on some of the prejudices faced by albinos and how they may have kick-started Tobias' career in the underworld?
Marvin: One of the main prejudices against albinism is that people think we are handicapped. Truthfully, I have low vision and it is something that all races of human beings face. Our inability to produce melanin and or tan is a result of the genetic disposition that is albinism. Other than that, we are perfectly normal human beings.
Our unique appearance is considered unusual, weird or ugly only to the ignorant. My character Tobias faced the same prejudices growing up, even from his own father. These feelings spurred a lot of his anger, along with the absence of his mother.
Meaww: Despite being a superhero show, I see 'Black Lightning' as a show that explores the gray area beyond good vs bad. How true would you say this assessment is, especially with regards to Tobias and Jefferson Pierce?
Marvin: That is very accurate. Jefferson and Tobias both share similarities in their respective positions. They are misunderstood and they’re both on a quest to make change. They also have pasts that haunt them, which continues to motivate them in present day.
Meaww: Your character is on the receiving end of some of the meanest insults, especially pertaining to the fact that he is albino. Was it in any way traumatizing for you or was it more along the lines of cathartic?
Marvin: I welcomed the insults because they foster education and raise awareness to the injustices being done to those around the world with albinism. I give so much credit to the writing staff of 'Black Lightning'. They are making leaps and bounds in subject matter on network television.
Meaww: Your scenes with Lady Eve is arguably the most entertaining to watch on the show. How do you prepare for a shoot with Jill Scott? Is it more improvised or rehearsed and perfected to the core?
Marvin: Thank you for your kind words. Sincerely, Jill Scott is a queen. She is great singer and an incredible actress. Working with her was a pleasure. My preparation was the same as any scene. You have to come to the game ready to play and perform at a comparable level. And if at all possible, exceed your counterpart.
Meaww: Tobias Whale is one of the most menacing characters I have ever seen on TV, how did you perfect the death stare and the growl?
Marvin: Thank you again for such kind words! I honestly have to say I just put my all into the character. I give up myself for the sake of Tobias and the viewer. I want him to be received as a real human and as feared as any villain has been in a long time. So I just focus and don’t lose sight of that.
Meaww: What can you tease us about Tobias' future?
Marvin: Just know that you’ve only seen the beginning of the great white whale.
Meaww: How was the transition from rapping to acting like?
Marvin: The transition has been welcomed, but also scary… if that makes sense? I love it! I love telling stories, no matter the medium. I’m still very new to this level of responsibility in the world of acting, but I look forward to expanding to even more different roles that allow me to show new sides of my character and personality.
Meaww: Did you have to audition for the role or did the showrunners approach you to take on the role?
Marvin: I had to audition and go through the normal process that most actors go through, especially new actors, when getting this wonderful role. A big shout out to Vicky Thomas! She made it such a wonderful experience. I am forever grateful to her and Bonnie. When I met our showrunners/creators Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil, it was unbelievable. I have infinite love, honor and respect for them.
Meaww: Have you written music for Black Lightning? Would you consider doing it?
Marvin: I haven’t written any music for the show yet because I’ve been so focused on portraying Tobias. I’ve been asked this question quite frequently, and hopefully it will happen in the seasons to come. I’ll have to carve out the space and time to do that.
Shout out to my brother GodHolly who does the Black Lightning theme song and all the original music on the show. He’s done such a great job. I love what he’s putting together. It really fits the mold of the show. Personally, I am still working on music and am currently connected with a new artist from South-Central Los Angeles named Bale. Be on the lookout for him!
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