The Last O.G. is about to air the last episode of its sophomore season, but first—let’s talk about black ass cousins.
As TBS’ press release describes The Last O.G.:
After losing his job, Tray (Morgan) goes all in on his dreams of becoming a chef. Tiffany Haddish stars as Tray’s ex-girlfriend Shay, who has an intriguing business venture of her own on the horizon. Season two also features returning series regulars Ryan Gaul, who plays Shay’s affable husband Josh; Allen Maldonado, who plays Tray’s goofy but well-intentioned cousin Bobby; and Taylor Mosby and Dante Hoagland, who play Tray and Shay’s teenage children, Shahzad and Amira.
I spoke with Maldonado about portraying cousin Bobby, a standout character in the series, which is a particularly impressive feat when working with larger-than-life personalities such as Morgan and Haddish. On a fun phone call filled with that same energy, we chatted about what he pulls from to portray Bobby, working with Jordan Peele (there was magic right from the test shoot!), and how he’s paying it forward in the digital creative space.
“My father’s Puerto Rican and spent my summers as a child in Spanish Harlem Wagner Projects, off 120th-121st and Pleasant,” Maldonado told The Root. “So, a lot of who cousin Bobby is, is a mixture of cousins, family members, and friends in the neighborhood. His happy-go-lucky [nature] and free spirit—that comes from me.”
I likened the dynamic between Bobby and Tray to a buddy comedy, and the chemistry between Maldonado and Morgan has a lot to do with that. He recalled a moment when he went to test for the show, opposite Morgan.
“I start going, he starts going and next thing you know we’re [improvising] for about 10 to 15 minutes straight,” Maldonado recalled. “Jordan Peele was throwing out ideas and different stuff to do and as quick as he says [something], we respond. I believe that’s how I booked the role—just off our natural chemistry and the way we were able to bounce off of each other ... and [it’s the same] in real life, man.
“Throughout the show, throughout the first season, we’ve really grown, [and he’s become my] friend, mentor, father figure, everything. He’s a special person to me in life, in general, so I think that’s what everybody sees when they watch the show,” Maldonado adds.
Speaking of mentorship, Maldonado is using his growing platform to pay it forward in his own way, with his app, Everybody Digital. He refers to it as “a short film version of Netflix.” The platform will be showcasing its second annual film festival in October 2019. His company is also looking to launch a Tech Expo to champion diversity in the tech industry, particularly using his platform to educate black kids.
Peele executive produces The Last O.G. via Monkeypaw Productions along with Morgan, Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Tannenbaum for the Tannenbaum Company, Saladin Patterson, and Joel Zadak of Artists First.
Notable guest stars this season included Method Man, Rev. Run, Talib Kweli, Rakim, Bresha Webb (Marlon), and Diarra Kilpatrick (American Koko, The Twilight Zone).
The season finale of The Last O.G. entitled “Fight The Power,” airs tonight, June 4 at 10:30 pm ET/PT on TBS. Check out the clip below to get prepared!