The Knockturnal recently caught up with Allen Maldonado. We discussed: life during the pandemic, how he started acting, and his role in the new comedy series ‘Sneakerheads’, now streaming on Netflix.
The Knockturnal: How have you been holding up with the pandemic?
Allen Maldonado: It’s been, it’s been okay, for me, man. Just, I’ve been working like nonstop for like five years. And this was the first time that I was forced to do nothing. And I’m not saying that I don’t appreciate working non stop for five years. But it was a perfect time to kind of reset and do nothing and kind of just get back to myself, you got to understand, when you working like that, you’re starting on for TV shows and writing for two. You’re often other people more than yourself like I was more of the character, I spent more time in the character, then myself as a person. Because I would always go from project uprising, and that does a lot to your site, you often forget, like, what do I like? Not what this particular role like, it’s, that’s how deep I go. So, um, it’s, it was great for my kind of just opportunity to self reflect.
The Knockturnal: How have you remained hopeful and positive during this time?
Allen Maldonado: I mean, listen when you are a person of color, that’s all you have. So, you know, it’s all you have you learned that as a way of life. So this is just another obstacle that we will persevere. So it wasn’t ever a thing of like, I didn’t never feel hopeless. It wasn’t, it wasn’t a thing of hopelessness. It was a thing of it just igniting more hope, knowing that this is something that now we have to bear and have to navigate and figure out how to live in. So it’s just a challenge that, you know, we got to be up for.
The Knockturnal: When did you discover that you wanted to go into acting?
Allen Maldonado: I was 17 when I really made the decision to become an actor. It was in High School, when I joined, Shout Out to Miss Bartlett fell in love with it instantly. It felt like it was the most natural thing that I’ve ever done in my life. And I’ve tried a lot of different things growing up at that point where this skill just felt natural to me. And you know, after that I just pursued it with an obsession. And, you know, when I turned 21 is when I booked my first major television role on the young restless.
The Knockturnal: Who would you say has had the biggest influence on your career?
Allen Maldonado: I do so much in this business. I could point out different people for different versions as an actor, as a writer. There’s so many people that impact me and inspire me throughout this journey. But ultimately, my mother, ultimately, my mother, she’s been with me through, you know, through it all, she was the first person to invest in my career and me as an actor. So, um, you know, she has been my biggest influence.
The Knockturnal: And as you kind of just mentioned, you wear a ton of different hats in this industry. What’s one thing you wish you would have known when you started your career?
Allen Maldonado: Oh, man, that it’s a business. Like I came in this game as a pure artist. And, you know, you find yourself frustrated, and not understanding how the business works, and how you have to build and build equity. In this game, in order to get actual shots at big projects, like you know, when you first started, I’m talented. I deserve to be in this manner, Mandela film, and it’s like, well, you haven’t proven to the investors that they can gamble $2 million on you. So that would have just helped me with my psyche, in understanding that it’s, I’m not, for lack of or winning in this game, because of my talent is because I’m losing in business. And once I figured that out, that’s when things really took off for me.
The Knockturnal: Looking back at your career, has there been a moment where you look back and you’re like, “Wow, I made it”?
Allen Maldonado: You know, I don’t know if I ever want that feeling. I don’t know if I ever want to feel like I made it. This is what I do know is that this business is like running on a treadmill. You never stopped running. You never, identify like, oh, I’ve made it known I’ve reached a certain milestone or reached a certain map in this run. And that’s what the entertainment business is. And for me you know, I don’t ever I love the joy of running I love the joy of being in the game. In you know, pursuing that’s driven by I guess the lack of I made it type of feeling. You know, I want to feel I would always be hungry. I always want to want more for myself, you know?
The Knockturnal: In regards to Sneakerheads, which is now on Netflix, would you be able to discuss your role in it and give our viewers a brief synopsis of the show?
Allen Maldonado: Yeah, man, Sneakerheads is the first scripted series about sneakers. We follow myself, Devin. He’s an ex, sneakerhead five years removed. He’s now married with two kids. And he finds himself in a crossroads in life where he’s trying to recreate a re-embrace his sneaker, a code that he left for his family. So now he’s torn between the two. He runs to his own running make Bobby play by King batch Andrew bachelor, and to begin his adventure to find this elusive shoe. This little shoe that no one has ever discovered. So it’s a show about friendship. It’s a show about self-improvement. It’s an adventure show. You don’t have to be sneaky to enjoy the friendship and the arguments that come home between me and Batman. So it’s, it’s We’re number two top 10 in the world on Netflix, which is an incredible feat. I’m just totally appreciative of all the success that it has and what and then what is continuing to do in the next couple of weeks.
The Knockturnal: Would you consider yourself a sneakerhead?
Allen Maldonado: I would say I’m a novice. I’m a novice. There’s levels to this like I can appreciate a good shoe.
The Knockturnal: Have you learned any tips or secrets that come with the art of collecting sneakers?
Allen Maldonado: Well, you know, I definitely did a lot of research and in developing my character. So learning about hyper stride, friends and families, and the different collabs and what the collabs actually mean and the inspiration behind it. It’s a culture, it’s something that not only do you have to embrace, you have to learn it. And that’s the beauty of it, I guess, finding yourself in any culture is that discovery. And that’s what’s dope. And that’s what we have in the show, as we’re, as Devin is rediscovering this new sneaker culture and we’re discovering this magical world that is inside of a sneaker culture. It’s uh, it’s pretty cool.
The Knockturnal: How is your character different from other roles that you’ve taken on?
Allen Maldonado: Oh man, his is the first time that I’ve been the straight character. I’ve always been the comedic component to you know, where I’ve always had to be a little more comical and animated. This is a row where I actually was able to be grounded and you know, stay true to that.
The Knockturnal: Do you have a particular sneaker that maybe reminds you of your childhood or one that you just like look at it and it instantly reminds you of a time when you were younger?
Allen Maldonado: Yeah, the ‘Crazy 8’s’! That was the first and only shoe my mother bought for me as a child. Shoes weren’t seen as something that you would spend $100 on knowing that we got to make sure we got the lights and you know in the bill was paid so that was the first and only pair that she bought for me as a kid.
The Knockturnal: If you could wear one sneakers for the rest of your life, which pair would you choose?
Allen Maldonado: Oh, easy. Air Jordan 1s! Which is great because I just released my own custom AJ 1’s in celebration of the show. Kind of marking this moment in history of us being the first scripted series. I released a custom shoe called “Wild M’s” designed by the great Katty Customs and she’s designed shoes from Chris Brown to Zion Williams. And we collabed on the shoe, it’s currently selling on kneesout.com and we are only making 100 pairs! So this is an exclusive and again time capsule of when Sneakerheads released and honoring the first-ever scripted series on television.
The Knockturnal: Tell us a little more about the shoe and the inspiration behind the design.
Allen Maldonado: Well it’s a combination of several animal prints from Cow to Zebra to Tiger to Giraffe. It’s the combination of all those animals with mine and Katty’s logo on the heel. It’s a dope shoe and there’s mink on the tongue. It’s a custom shoe that’s a piece of art and that’s what we really wanted to execute in the design. Katty Customs killed it and I’m excited for people to begin to collect them.
The Knockturnal: You’ve been absolutely killing it. You have a ton of new projects that have been coming out and releasing and you’re working on a ton of different ones as well. In times like this, how do you celebrate your success?
Allen Maldonado: Wow, you know, with my dogs, man. I got two dogs and finding peace with them and just being quiet and still with them is how I celebrate. I’m sort of not so into partying and all. I’ve done all of that years ago and I’ve celebrated the highest heights on that end. And those are fun and it’s not like I don’t have those moments anymore. It’s the quiet moments that I really enjoy now more. Like in celebration of when we went up into the top seven in the world on Netflix. I just was sitting out by myself with my dog in silence. I was really embracing what is happening because it’s outside of me. It’s outside of me, I really appreciate how everything has been developing, and I know it’s bigger than me.
The first season of ‘Sneakerheads’ is now streaming on Netflix!