On the silver screen, Titus Makin is known for the hit TV shows Pretty Little Liars, Grey's Anatomy, Glee, and now The Rookie. When Makin isn't filming, he is an accomplished singer and songwriter who goes by the stage name Butterfly Ali. He shares how he rose to stardom and found creative outlets for his many talents in an interview with QG.
Growing up, Makin was very athletic and participated in gymnastic competitions as well as dance. During Makin's childhood, his sister actively pursued acting, and watching her perform in school plays sparked his interest. In his senior year of high school, he landed a role in a musical that allowed him to act and showcase his gifts for singing, dancing and athleticism. From that moment onward, he knew acting would become his career.
Opportunities gained earlier in life helped build the foundation for leading roles such as Jackson West in the police drama series, The Rookie. Makin's character Jack West is the son of the Commander of Internal Affairs. As the TV series progresses, audiences will witness West's ups and downs as he struggles to make the transition from his police academy days to working in the real world.
Makin shares a few of the standout moments for his character in Season 3.
"And now in Season 3, we're starting to see him come into his own, find his voice," he explains. "This season we've already seen him deal with a racist training officer that he has, and how he heads that up and stands on his own two feet. He risks his job to try to get this cop fired so he can get them off [of] the street. And we also see him deal with some situations with police brutality. So, he's been coming into his own and finding a voice this season."
Makin is pleased with how The Rookie approaches dark and sensitive subjects like police brutality and racial injustice. He feels that previous police dramas have not always authentically captured the raw reality. He praises the showrunner for having frank discussions and allowing creative input from the cast.
"And for some people, it's hard to process," he said. "But it's a conversation worth starting and continuing to have when it comes to seeing a cop treat a Caucasian person differently than a person of color."
According to Makin, audiences will see the consequences of such actions and what takes place behind closed doors. These moments will paint a very different image from the news media and how events are perceived by society.
In addition, he recently released a music video for the song titled Pray for `Em which expresses his feelings towards racial injustice. Makin considers his singing style to be soul-funk. The nature of the genre inspires him.
"And when all else fails, we can continue to pray for the situation, pray for each other and just try to create conversation and show love the best we can until we're in a better space," he said.
He names a few of his favorite roles thus far in his acting career.
"I did a show called The Path on Hulu, and it was about this cult in the backwoods of New York," he states. "And it's just a really edgy show. So, as an actor, that was probably my favorite one to dive into artistically speaking. As far as a personal message and having a platform to say something that I believe in will be Season 3 of The Rookie."
Despite the challenges created by the pandemic, The Rookie has been able to continue filming with safety precautions in place. Makin tries to stay in good spirits amidst all the uncertainty.
When considering a dream project, he is most captivated by films such as 12 Years A Slave, Harriet and Django.
"I've always wanted to be in a very racially charged film," he said. "There's just something about a gritty truth. Something that's like you drop in just experiencing all these emotions and being able to tell that story from such a raw space."
He offers advice to others who may be considering a career in the entertainment industry.
"I would say to them, take a class," he advises. "If it's acting, take a class to see if you enjoy the process. Some people will be shocked that it's a little more rigorous than expected when it comes to learning lines and dropping into the work of it all. As far as the pursuit of acting and singing, keep going. The best advice I've ever received is, they'll be forced to choose you if you're the last one standing there."
And with so much already accomplished, there is still more to come. Alongside continuing The Rookie, Makin has some exciting new projects soon to be released.
"I have an EP called Preacher's Kid that will be coming out on June 11th. And the first, technically the second single from that and [the] video called Testimony is coming out April 23rd.”
Photo Credit: Rowan Daly