This Is Us has added another regular member to its already supersized ensemble cast. Asante Blackk, who was recently introduced as teen dad Malik Hodges on the NBC drama, has been upped to a series regular for the fourth season of the hit show, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The back story of Blackk’s high school character was shown on the This Is Us Season 4 premiere, but his connection to the Pearson family was not revealed until the very end of the episode when he met newly planted Philadelphia resident Deja (Lyric Ross) at a party.
Blackk described his character Mailk, a teen dad who is doing everything he can to provide the best for his baby daughter, as a “great young man” who will become a major part of the Pearsons’ story.
“He’s connected to the Pearsons in a very, very [key way]. He gets close to them as the season goes along.”
Because This Is Us does so much time-jumping, some fans have speculated that Deja is actually the mother of Malik’s child and that the scenes at the barbecue were actually flashbacks. But This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman has pretty much debunked that theory.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Fogelman said Mailk will play “a big part in Randall’s family’s story — and Deja’s story particularly.” But he reiterated that Randall (Sterling K. Brown) will react to “his daughter becoming interested in a young man who has a child.” The This Is Us boss’s statement certainly seems to suggest that Malik was a father before he ever met Deja.
Blackk, 17, was previously nominated for an Emmy Award for his role in the Netflix drama When They See Us, where he played teen Kevin Richardson.
In August, the young actor told The Playlist he had been diligently auditioning for acting roles all through high school, but it wasn’t until the summer before his senior year that he got his first call back.
“My second call back ever was for When They See Us,” he said.
While his television acting credits are currently only listed as two roles (When They see Us, This Is Us), Blackk is already being called a “prodigy” by Fogelman.
Asante Blackk joins the This Is Us cast alongside new series regular Griffin Dunne, who plays Nicky Pearson, as well as series stars Sterling K. Brown, Susan Kelechi Watson, Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Justin Hartley, Chrissy Metz, and Chris Sullivan.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.