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"BRUH" Star Mahdi Cocci Talks Criticism, His Legacy and Working With Tyler Perry

Photo Credit; Brian Wilmerding

From the Navy to Hollywood, that is the story of rising actor, Mahdi Cocci. Cocci, one of the stars of Tyler Perry’s hit Bet+ Show, Bruh, and the Issa Rae Netflix hit movie The Love Birds, describes his upbringing as traditional. “My mom instilled the importance of post-secondary education for financial success,” says Cocci. “And God bless her for it.” Scouted by an agency, the Minneapolis, Minnesota, born actor decided to put his burgeoning career on hold once the push for him not to attend school entered the conversation. “That really wasn’t going to fly with mom,” Cocci explains. But now, after serving in the Navy for 10 years, Mahdi has shifted into turbo mode with his growing resume.

While at a lake getaway in Deep Creek, Maryland, Cocci has recognized the importance of keeping his mental health in check during the current civil unrest and pain that is sweeping this nation. “With production shut down, there’s no auditioning and I love to audition. There is a feeling of incompleteness.” Mahdi says that it is human interaction these days that is keeping him from going stir crazy. “The interaction is really stimulating. The chance to converse and express myself really helps,” he describes.

In fact, it was the interaction between Mahdi and his childhood friend that first led him to believe he could model. It's the interaction between Mahdi and some of his fellow actors, who are now practicing monologues and scene studies together, that is keeping him creatively alive. Cocci’s passion for human interaction is fitting as he takes on his latest role, Tom Brooks, on Tyler Perry’s Bruh.

Photo Credit; Brian Wilmerding

The BET+ original series is all about the interaction between a group of 30-something Black men, who explore the world of dating, careers, and friendship in present-day society. “I’m closely connected to my character, Tom. I value friendships and I have the type of bond my character has with his friends,” Cocci explains. “Anytime I am able to tell a story of the bond of brotherhood to a wider audience, I am in.” And as the bond on-screen and off-screen is apparent between Mahdi and his co-stars, he does hope audiences will walk away seeing four professional Black men who are not “adhering to some of the stereotypes we see on mainstream media. In film and on television.”

As The Love Birds actor career continues to take off, he is privy to what comes along with his work. Like Hollywood mogul Tyler Perry often experiences, a lot of people will have a lot of opinions. Perry, who is often criticized for his storytelling in regards to Black women and the Black experience, has recently seen critics turn the dial up on how they are receiving his work. “It’s such a small scale for me,” Cocci says. “People are going to have opinions one way or the other. Whether they like the project or hate me in the project. You have to think like Tyler Perry. He chooses to tell the stories that his audience wants. What we do really is a service, and that service is to tell the stories of the human experience,” Cocci further explains.

The human connection that Mahdi speaks highly of is something we should all continue to strive for. “I want people to see me and view me as a person who is empathetic, accepting, and understanding. That is important to me,” Cocci shares on the legacy he would like to leave behind. Mahdi’s bright light shines through the screen and is as infectious off-screen, and it is because of his compassion and genuinely wanting good for others. That light is how he pushed through fear and began creating the life he wants to live, even when he did not feel good enough during his acting classes. Mahdi keeps going, which has led him to book roles on shows such as Watchmen, and The Gifted.

As Mahdi continues navigating Hollywood, he hopes that bright light will inspire others to do the same.

Watch Bruh on BET+ every Thursday.


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