Malaika Jackson, who has made a name for herself as an actress and TV host can currently be seen in the new Netflix series The Baby-Sitters Club. She recently spoke to TVGrapevine about her life and career. Here are some of the highlights from our chat
How would you describe yourself and your career?
HOWDY YA’LL! I would describe myself as a super positive, high energy person who lives life to the fullest every day that God has allowed me to be on this planet! In terms of my career, I love being an actor. It’s amazing to play make believe every day and have fun. I also get to meet and hang out with the coolest, talented people, performers, cast and crew. I feel blessed to be able to do acting on a fulltime level! I’m truly living the dream!
How would you describe your role in The Baby-Sitters Club series?
I play a character named Mrs. Papadakis. I know what you’re thinking, what a last name right? She is voicing an issue of concern to the members of The Babysitter’s Club and she is not afraid to say how she really feels about any antics she sees going on!
Did you read the books as a child?
Yes, I read a couple or so when I was a child. I love the fact that book follows the ups and downs of a young teen business club for babysitters. I remember they touched on deeper issues like illness, moving and divorce. As a kid, I had to move a lot of times, I even lived in a different country in the Caribbean so I felt like I really related to the topics. Also, my parents divorced when I was little so the topics about divorce in the book really resonated with me on a personal level because of felt like I could relate to the familial emotions of it.
Which character did you most relate to?
I would say I would relate to Kristy. She is the founder and president of The Babysitter’s Club. According to my friends and family, I’ve always been a natural born leader just like Kristy. We are both athletic, and our parents are both divorced. I was raised by my mom who was a single mom of 4 kids. Similarly, Kristy’s mom (played by Alicia Silverstone) was also a single mom who had 4 kids. In fact, the whole reason that the idea of The Babysitter’s Club came to fruition, was because Kristy saw how desperate her single mom was to find a last-minute sitter for her little brother so Kristy hatched a plan to start a full-service babysitting because she saw there was a need for babysitters in Stoney Brook Connecticut. Genius! I would say we are very similar in many ways due to the fact that we are both innovative and think outside the box!
What attracted you to the role?
I liked playing Mrs. Papadakis because she is straight up and tells it like it is. She says what she means and means what she says. I love that! If she has a valid issue or concern, she addresses it. She is not afraid of what other people think, which is a quality I deeply admire.
In what ways do you relate to your character?
Well I’m from Toronto so we keep it very real and tell it like it is. However, there is a way to tell it like it is but still be polite. Mrs. Papadakis is unafraid to voice her opinion in public settings. I’m the same way. If I have something to say and I think its valid, I’m going to say it, respectfully of course!…(laughs)
What was it like working with such a great cast?
I first met Sophie, Malia, Shay, Momona when they all came down to get a bite to eat. They approached me and said a warm hello to me. They were so polite, warm and respectful and made me feel so comfortable on set. I remember thinking to myself, “wow – these young ladies are so polite and professional. I’ve worked with a lot of younger actors before but these were some of the most professional and sweetest young ladies I’ve ever worked with before– hands down!
What were some challenges of playing the role?
Originally, I auditioned for a different role in my scene but later they upgraded me to a bigger role – Mrs. Papadakis! I was super excited. However, the only thing is that I got the lines super last minute. This is normal in the industry but for most actors it can be super stressful, but with diligent practice and hard work, I was able to get the lines down within a super fast turn–around time, right in time for the show!
What are some of your favorite memories from working on set?
Favourite memory working on set was getting to work alongside Alicia Silverstone – who I have a lot of admiration for ever since she starred in the movie “Clueless”. She sat directly beside me in my scene. In between the breaks we had a lot of interesting talks. I learned all about her passion for vegan food, motherhood and a healthy lifestyle. Her young son was on set a lot of the time. They have the most amazing bond. Whenever the director said cut, he ran up to her and gave her kiss in between takes. It was super cute! The energy and vibe on set wereamazing. It was a great experience working on the show!
What else are you working on?
Currently, the industry just opened back up so projects are just starting to pick up again. I filmed a commercial a few days ago with my two little boys. We had to social distance, wear masksand adhere to health protocols. Everyone is trying to adjust to a new sense of normalcy!
I have two movies coming out this year: Little Fish & Flora and Ulysses. In the movie Little Fish,I play a clinician. It’s about a couple who fights to hold their relationship together as a memory loss virus spreads and threatens to erase the history of their love and courtship. The second movie that’s coming out this year is Disney’s Flora & Ulysses, it’s about the adventures of a young girl and a squirrel with superpowers. I play an animal control officer. Both movies have been delayed due to Covid–19 but are scheduled to come out sometime this year!
Tell me a fun fact about yourself.
When I was a host on MTV, a producer dared me to do a segment where I went bungee jumping. I thought all was well and I was ready to do it, but when I got up to the bridge and looked down I tried to back out but they said I had to do it since we already drove up to Whistlerso I had to jump because the cameras where rolling…(laughs). It was the scariest and most exciting thing I’ve ever done in my life! It’s indescribable! The Biggest Adrenaline rush ever!
What are you watching on TV these days?
The show that I’m loving on Netflix right now is called “Dare Me”. It shows the dark side world of high school cheerleading. It’s not just a typical cheerleading show, there are a bunch of crazy, unpredictable twists that happen in the little town. I like it because I never seen a show like it before. I also think that the actors on it are well casted, super believable and thrilling to watch. It’s currently my late-night pleasure!
Anything else you want to share?
After a very successful media career doing hosting at MTV, winning Miss Caribbean Canada, having 50 commercials under my belt and bridging into a successful film and television acting career, one of my new found joys in giving back to others. I coach actors, television hosts andmentor young women who want to break into the entertainment business. Nothing brings me more joy then seeing people achieve their dreams!