Photo credit: Christopher Allen for C.Allen Photos
There are few actors of Romany Malco’s stature who would plan a special visit to their hometowns to spend time with fans and raise funds for the nonprofit of a childhood friend.
But that is exactly what Malco did in a recent three-day visit, creatively dubbed, “Back to Baytown.”
He spoke with students at various Baytown-area high schools, hosted a community meet and greet, and spent time with fans at “A Night Out with Romany,” to help raise funds for A-Place.org, a nonprofit started by one of his best friends, Jewette Johnson.
Johnson, who passed away in April, played a pivotal role in helping Malco move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in entertainment. He launched A-Place.org to create a world where justice, opportunity, and compassion are equally available to every individual.
“There is work to be done … I’m back to carry on his vision,” said Malco.
The 45-year-old actor, who values connecting with fans via social media and in person, expressed excitement on returning to Texas to give back to the community that gave so much to him. During his visit, he also shared insights on his journey in the entertainment industry and his unique perspective on life.
A former rapper-turned-actor, Malco has developed a body of work in his 15 years in the industry that has allowed him to create an extraordinary life.
“The thing that I like to say to people that are aspiring to this, is that you have to give 107 percent of yourself. It is about work and focus, everything goes into that, period,” shared Malco.
Launching his career with a break-out role in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” Malco went on to nab roles in both film and television, including “Blades of Glory,” “Las Vegas,” and the “Think Like a Man” franchise, as well as the Emmy Award-winning television drama, “The Good Wife.”
For Malco, success has nothing to do with fancy cars or a mansion nestled in the Hollywood hills.
“We have been taught to interpret success in a way that is actually a fast track to an ordinary life. I define an extraordinary life as freedom, and the way that I define freedom is the ability to explore without consequences; that, to me, is the extraordinary life,” said Malco.
Sidestepping the lavish lifestyle and choices that would have mired him in debt, Malco instead has chosen a simpler path that has allowed him to live life on his own terms.
“Fortunate thing, I don’t have a lot of debt. I don’t own a car. I don’t own a giant house; that is not what I live for. I work, I choose my jobs,” said Malco.
The Los Angeles-based actor calls his perspective on life “a paradigm shift” and a “way of looking at things” that is different from what society advocates.
“Rich for me is how long can I go, how many days, months or years I can go without working – how many days, months or years can I sustain my life without having to get a job,” said Malco.
Raised in both the Caribbean and New York, Malco spent his formative years in Baytown, and has held onto the principles and values instilled in him by his father, who the actor calls his “biggest cheerleader.” He empowered Malco with the confidence that would shape his outlook on life and inspire him to follow his dreams.
“I am hoping to influence many people, because as long as you are thinking that buying the nicest clothes and keeping up with the Joneses is the way to success, the longer you will be in debt, the longer you will be enslaved and the harder it will be for you to travel and explore and learn new languages and make new friends,” Malco said to audience members during his recent visit.
His advice during his Back-to-Baytown visit was simple – discover and pursue your purpose.
“On the road to purpose, everything you need is there, but we are trained to disengage our purpose to pay bills. I am trying to explain this to everyone in the world, anyone who will listen. I am even going to learn other languages so that I can explain this to everyone possible.
“It is not about what you own, it is about what you contribute, and that starts with identifying your purpose,” said Malco.
Malco was cast in the lead role of the movie-turned-TV pilot, “Keep It Together,” co-starring Kevin Hart and is currently filming Sony Pictures TV series “Mad Dogs.” He also will appear in the Chris Rock film “Top Five,” due out in theaters in December.