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Here’s Why Malik on ‘This Is Us’ Looks Familiar

If you’ve been watching This Is Us season five, then you’ve definitely noticed that there are new series regulars. Chances are one of them, Deja’s (Lyric Ross) new boyfriend Malik (Asante Blackk), looks pretty familiar, though. Here, four reasons why you might recognize the 19-year-old actor.

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1. His Current Role

Blackk is widely recognized for playing Malik, Deja’s boyfriend on This Is Us. The character had a rocky start at first, butting heads with Deja’s adopted dad, Randall (Sterling K. Brown), who’s trying to protect her. Despite the fact that he’s a teenage dad to Janelle, Malik develops a bond with Randall. During the season five premiere, the pair even engaged in a meaningful conversation in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Perhaps Malik is the son Randall never had?

Ross previously teased Deja’s relationship with Malik during an interview with PureWow. “There’s going to be a lot more in store for Malik and Deja’s story line. I can tell you that,” she said. “There might be some new characters popping up that we’ve heard about before, but we haven’t gotten to meet yet.”

Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

2. His Previous Role

In addition to his role on This Is Us, Blackk starred in the groundbreaking Netflix series When They See Us as teenage Kevin Richardson. Based on a true story that divided our nation, When They See Us centers on the notorious case of five teenagers of color, dubbed the Central Park Five, who were wrongly convicted of a rape they did not commit. The gripping series spans from 1989, when the teenagers were first questioned, to 2002, when they were finally exonerated and reached a settlement with the city of New York in 2014.

When They See Us was created, co-written and directed by Ava DuVernay (12 Years a Slave) and is one of the most powerful stories available on the streaming platform. Surprisingly, it was also Blackk’s debut role.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

3. His Accolades

Blackk’s performance in When They See Us was so resonant that it not only made this editor cry, but it also snagged him his first Emmy nomination. The young actor received a nod for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for his performance. The award ultimately went to A Very English Scandal star Ben Whishaw, but Blackk still has plenty of time to rack up a win.

4. His Family Resemblance

Do his high cheekbones and face shape look kind of familiar? Well, if you’re a fan of Orange Is the New Black or The Handmaid’s Tale then you might see the resemblance between Blackk and his aunt, actress Samira Wiley.

Wiley gave her nephew a shout-out on Instagram after his Emmys nomination and captioned side-by-side photos of them, “Ain’t even had my @televisionacad Emmy for 1 whole year yet, and the boy already coming for his auntie’s crown! Haha.”

She went on to write, “Congratulations to my stupidly talented nephew, @asanteblackk on his first Emmy nom for his breathtakingly beautiful portrayal of young Kevin Richardson in @netflix’s @whentheyseeus! Love you so much, ASANTE!!!!!!!! Congrats to you, @ava, and the rest of the cast, crew and creative team of @whentheyseeus! #sowelldeserved.”

That’s one talented family.