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Actor Malik Yoba’s UJ workshop unveils the fusion of film, storytelling, and architecture

Storytelling is powerful. Architecture tells a story in and of itself in the design space that speaks to your emotion, mental state and physical state.

These were just some of the words shared by actor and entrepreneur Malik Yoba as he shared insights with the University of Johannesburg (UJ) Graduate School of Architecture  (GSA) students during a workshop on filmmaking and the impact of storytelling in the creation of architecture.

“The intersection of storytelling using film and coming to a place like GSA to talk to architecture students excites me because there are so many parallels. The students are approaching their work through storytelling. There’s a universal understanding of the power of architecture in storytelling.”

He added that having an opportunity to come to GSA and present his own work was amazing.

“I have been to many schools at university and high school level and I have never seen a programme like this one. It is fascinating, I am glad we were able to film it and push this story out to the world.”

The Yoba Development founder said part of the goal was to get students to come to the GSA as the price point was also attractive.

“People need to know about this programme and come here to get a world class education.”

Even though the Hollywood legend offers over three decades of commitment to the arts with over fifty film credits and more than a dozen lead roles in network/cable television series, he considers himself a community and youth advocate first.

Yoba Development is a company specialising in real estate, education, and media. While Malik Yoba is in the country for the Joburg Film Festival currently taking place around Johannesburg, he is also looking to visit potential development sites, see what the issues are, document them and archive the stories for later purposes.

Personal journeys of GSA students

Architecture students Alice Findlay and Phinda Mdingi were part of the group who took part in the workshop.

Alice Findlay

Masters student Alice comes from a film background and was also a dancer and actress.

“I eventually started to feel, on set, like I didn’t have the same agency that the other creative people around me had. Architecture is one of those things that are so mentally stimulating and brings together so many facets like politics, art, culture and science. Studying architecture makes me feel like I can fully realise my ideas.”

The GSA Unit 20 maintains an interdisciplinary approach to design thinking and education and this is what has helped Alice in furthering her studies.

“This programme allows other artforms to come in. Film is about storytelling and stories are how we make sense of the world and that is what architecture is as well – making spaces to  make the world make more sense.”

For Honours student Phinda Mdingi, studying architecture is going to help her fix her mother’s home.

Phinda Mdingi

“I come from Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape. My mom wanted to build her dream home and unfortunately got scammed by the people who were building the house. From then I was inclined to one day learn how to build things myself and help her and other people in my area who also had such problems.”

The workshop with Malik Yoba was more than taking film notes but rather a sense of agency and purpose.

“It helped me find direction in focusing on my story and shining a light on what it is that I came here to do. We know him as an actor but he taught us by sharing his story and passions in real estate.”

She said the GSA Programme has helped her expand her architectural thinking.

GSA’s interdisciplinary approach

Professor Mark Raymond, Director of the GSA encouraged the students to use their own agency through the knowledge, information and skills learnt to take on bigger issues and be the change that they wanted to see in the world and said he hoped the workshop would help the students in the work they would be producing.

“The thought always becomes the thing, if you can imagine it, it can become real.”

About Dr Malik Yoba

Dr. Malik Yoba, born in the South Bronx and raised in Harlem, gained fame through roles in the Disney classic “Cool Runnings” and the groundbreaking ’90s police drama “New York Undercover.” As a serial entrepreneur, he is the founder and CEO of Yoba Development, focusing on real estate, education, and media.

Watch the workshop highlights here:

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