You may recognize this actor from his role as Messiah on the Netflix dramatic series Seven Seconds. He currently plays a former Special Ops soldier on Spectrum’s new hit series entitled Joe Pickett. We are ecstatic for you to check out our recent interview from this talented gentleman, Mustafa Speaks.
SFND MAG: Before we get started, we just want to let you know how much we appreciate you for interviewing with us Mustafa. We are glad to have you in this issue of So FN Dope Magazine. How have you been my brother?
MUSTAFA: The pleasure is mine, King. I respect what you all are building at So FN Dope Mag. I’m very well. Blessed.
SFND MAG: For our audience who may not be familiar with your work just yet, tell us a little about yourself and what attracted you to start a career in acting?
MUSTAFA: I’m originally from Booker T. Projects, Jersey City, NJ. I am what many would consider a Renaissance Man. Prior to my career in acting, I studied as a Marine & Environmental Scientist specializing in Shark Behavior. As an undergrad, I became internationally published for my work discovering a repellent for sharks. I transitioned into acting after ending my football career with the Pirates and accepting an academic scholarship to continue my scientific research. With a little extra time on my hands, and a tip from a friend, I decided to join the stage play at the university. I immediately fell in love with the craft and discipline of the arts. Reminiscent of my sports days. I found almost immediate success in the Hampton Roads area and decided to pursue a serious career in LA upon graduating. During in LA, in pursuit of my ultimate goal, I’ve developed numerous talents and skills along the way.
SFND MAG: Mustafa Speaks is a very interesting name. It is very strong and unique and it immediately drew us in and made us want to Google you right away just to see what you are all about. Is that your birth name or was that the name you chose to use as an actor / producer?
MUSTAFA: Coley Mustafa Speaks is my birth name. It means Wealthy Chosen One. My father’s name is Coley Speaks. He blessed me with “Mustafa” because he wanted to give me a name with meaning…Arabic for “Chosen One” Contrast to the “slave name.” He’s a product of the Black Islam era in the 60’s and 70’s, so self-empowered and identity was his foundation. Growing up, close friends and family called me Mustafa. In school and professional settings, I went by Coley. Very recently, I decided to solely go by Mustafa.
SFND MAG: Did you have any formal training as an actor or was it something that you had to learn just by doing or did it just come naturally to you?
MUSTAFA: I definitely learned on the job performing in school stage plays. I did have something innately that allowed me to perform at such a high level since I was so green. However, after my decision to take it seriously, I immediately immersed myself in professional training.
SFND MAG: So we watched the trailer for the new series you are in entitled Joe Pickett and it looks really good. If you can, please tell us a little about your character Nate Romanowski, and what inspired you to take the role?
MUSTAFA: Nate Romanowski is a simple man who must fight to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. I fell in love with the character because not only is he the baddest man in cinema…a Master Falconer, Ex-special ops soldier and superior survivalist, but his heart, integrity, and unique perspective permeates everything he does. These are the stories I’m compelled to tell.
SFND MAG: From the looks of it, the setting of this series seems very rural and somewhat in the wilderness. As you just mentioned, your character is a former special ops soldier and looks like he is quite an outdoorsman. What was it like to be on set for this series as compared to others?
MUSTAFA: Shooting in the beautiful location of Calgary, Canada was a dream come true. I’ve never been in such a place before. Snow capped mountains. Lush forests. Big open skies. A major treat for a city boy from the projects. Being outdoors really helped me tap into the character on a deeper level.
SFND MAG: You also have recently secured a recurring role as Coach Kenny Boone on Season 4 of All-American, which airs on The CW. This is actually one of our favorite shows to watch. Did you find it easy or challenging to settle in with such a dynamic cast?
MUSTAFA: I found it very easy and comfortable to settle in. I understood my assignment and was ready to rock regardless, but it was cool to feel how warm and welcoming the entire team was. As a fan of the show myself, it was exciting to work with such dynamic talent and be part of the storytelling. Nkechi Okoro Carroll, the amazing showrunner, has built something special.
SFND MAG: You look like a pretty athletic guy. Do you have any experience either playing or coaching football or any other sports. If so, was it easy to transfer some of that experience into your character as Coach Kenny Boone?
MUSTAFA: Yes, I played at Hampton University. Linebacker. 2004/2005 D1 MEAC Conference Champs! My experience absolutely helped me tap into Coach Boone. Honestly, I fight the urge to suit up every time I film. Ha!
SFND MAG: Of all the roles you’ve played to date, which one has been the most challenging and why?
MUSTAFA: Nate Romanowski has definitely been the most challenging thus far. The levels and layers of this character are so dynamic that the gold I find as I mine his soul is endless. Pushes me to the limit every day I’m with him.
SFND MAG: With all that comes with the television and film industry, I am sure that it is important to remain inspired. Who do you typically look towards to find that inspiration as an actor?
MUSTAFA: I simply look at my wife, Michelle Mitchenor. She is truly my inspiration for what can be accomplished. She’s FN Dope! Not only as an artist, but as a woman. I’ve witnessed her journey and learned so much. I’m an avid student. The inspiration I get from my children is too great to explain here. My family/community in Jersey is another major source of inspiration. It all keeps what I do in perspective. My livelihood as an actor is a very small part of who I am and what my life is about.
SFND MAG: What else can we expect from Mustafa Speaks in the upcoming year of 2022. Any other exciting roles or projects in the works?
MUSTAFA: I have several projects bubbling, including some that are under my personal production umbrella, but right now, I’m focused on and enjoying the ride with Nate and Coach Boone.
SFND MAG: Since we are nearing the end of the interview, could you please let our readers know when and where they can go to see latest work? In addition, where can they find you on social media?
MUSTAFA: Catch me on Joe Pickett now streaming on demand at Spectrum Originals and All American Mondays on CW.
SFND MAG: So...We often conclude our interviews with this next question. Before you go, could you name for us one other person that you think is So FN Dope and tell us why?
MUSTAFA: Michelle Mitchenor. Look her up. You’ll see why.
SFND MAG: Mustafa thank you again my brother for interviewing with us. We are looking forward to seeing much more of you in the future.
MUSTAFA: Much Love.