Allen Maldonado of “The Last O.G.” is the next O.G. | Marijuana

Allen Maldonado of “The Last O.G.” is the next O.G.

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The evening before the world premiere of “The Last O.G.,” Tracy Morgan’s new show on TBS, I was invited to an exclusive private screening by cast member Allen Maldonado. You may recognize him fromBlack-ish” and a slew of other gigs on both the small and silver screen. Not only was I honored, but I also felt guilty. With only 200 spots available in this advanced screening for friends and family, I was not worthy!

First off, any invite with a floating Tracy Morgan head on the flier — it’s a wrap. Tracy Morgan is a legend, a GOAT. He is probably one of the funniest comedians to ever do it. And he’s got a new show on TBS? Who’s bringing the popcorn?

gif of John Cusack putting a giant bag of popcorn into a car

Being a stoner, the letters OG hold a special place in my heart. Also being a hip-hop head,  the words “original gangster” share the same space, and Tracy Morgan is a walking definition. Fitting to the name, “The Last O.G.” hints at his well-deserved place in not only the comedy realm, but also entertainment as a whole.

The second I walked into The Downtown Independent theater in downtown LA, I couldn’t help but notice the surplus of brownies to the right. More floating Tracy Morgan head branding? Here for it. Shout out to the marketing and promo team — this was pure genius.

I still can’t get over the fact everyone thought these were weed brownies, myself included. And for good reason! The individual wrapping and high-quality casing in which the Greyston-baked dessert sat in was highly reminiscent of a high-end edible.

Even so, I couldn’t help but laugh on my way out. I overheard a young lady who was scared to try her brownie in the event that it was laced. She was driving home and could not fathom the risk. I told her I went through the same thought process in my head. We laughed.

On the back, in large type, the words “CHOCOLATE FUDGE BROWNIE” was written on top of the fine print.

“Tracy Morgan returns to TV in The Last O.G., a heartfelt comedy about an ex-con looking for a second chance in a changed world after a 15-year prison stint.”

While the show itself is indeed a comedy equipped with both crude and light-hearted humor, I soon find out the premise of the show stems from real-life scenarios that everyone’s favorite comedian had to overcome. Never forget: Everyone has a story. What do you do when the person who makes everyone else laugh needs a laugh? You get inspired, and you do better.

Tracy Morgan was involved in a life-threatening car accident in 2014 and was going through his own bouts of depression. This is his comeback to television, and “The Last O.G.” is a home run. The pilot episode had the entire audience cackling, knee-slapping, snorting — pure laughter filled the room.

Tiffany Haddish dancing

Tiffany Haddish in Girls Trip

Maldonado plays the cousin Bobby, who is the most animated character in the show. Each time the camera turned on him, I couldn’t help but feel proud to know him, but also I felt proud of how talented he is. He didn’t land this role by chance. He didn’t land this role by being passive. He earned this role right alongside Tracy Morgan, Cedric The Entertainer, and Tiffany Haddish, who exploded on the scene with the release of “Girls Trip.” 

Throughout all of the commotion, I was able to squeeze in a few hellos and thank-yous as the night went on. This was definitely Maldonado’s night, as he was gifted with red roses and pulled left and right for kisses. Whether he’s acting, writing, directing, or inventing his own app called Everybody Digital, he’s always smiling. And that’s what I love most. That man exudes positive energy and it’s so appreciated.

After the screening, the only things I was worried about was 1) How long I would have to wait for the second episode? and 2) Which of my friends has cable? With my sad schedule and lack of self-care, I hardly have downtime to chill or watch any type of television, but this show is about to change all that.

The only other show that I’ve felt this much love for is Netflix’s “The Rapture,” and that’s saying a lot. I later got the chance to speak with Maldonado about his journey and work ethic.

Q: Your Instagram handle is so accurate, you seem to be everywhere. I saw you even stopped by “The Breakfast Club” radio show. Talk about your work ethic.

A: I put everything I have into what I do. My focus is to build a legacy that will last a lifetime. I came from nothing so all is appreciated, but I strive for more with everything that I build from my acting career; my writing (he’s writing for the second season of The Last O.G.); my music; my company, Get It Done Records, where we focus on library music for TV and film; my kids foundation, Demo Nerds; and lastly, my new app Everybody Digital — a short app, aka “the short film version of Netflix.” It’s a platform concentrated on short films and short-form content.

Q: What was it like on the set of The Last O.G., working with the legendary Tracy Morgan and Cedric The Entertainer?

A: It was incredible! They are both legends in the game. I’ve learned so much during my first season with these two. Every day I’m getting a headache from laughing too much.

Q: Talk about working alongside Tiffany Haddish, who is such a strong female force.

A: She is a once-in-a-lifetime talent. I’m so happy for her success as I’ve known her for years and to see her rise to stardom, I couldn’t be more happy for a person. I’m excited to see what she does next like everyone else is.

Q: The storyline of the show is about an ex-con who is released from prison after serving 15 years. What’s the message you want the people to get from watching the show?

A: Second chances. The show is a comedy, but it has a lot of heart and dramatic tones as the theme is a convict released to an unknown world. It’s about family, bettering oneself, and even though we make mistakes, we can only attempt to make them right.

Q: What has been your favorite experience from working on this show?

A: The mentorship of Tracy Morgan. My OG is a real OG and coming from the area that he grew up in, we communicate on the same level. As a hustler! Even though we’re playing in the game of entertainment, we never forget the hustle it took to survive and succeed coming from the hood, and we apply it to our work every day.

About Author

Shirley Ju is a journalist based in Los Angeles. She is the former Editor-At-Large at HipHopDX.com and currently works at Power 106 FM. She lives and breathes hip-hop and is literally on top of new music the moment it is released. If there's a show in LA, you can find her there. Born in the Bay, the hyphy movement is ingrained in her. She also started her own site at fomoblog.com, which covers all the dope events in the city! She loves all things weed-related and probably will rejoice if you pass her the blunt.

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