We had the good fortune of connecting with Murad B. Yunus and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Murad B., we’d love to hear what makes you happy.
Being surrounded by the incredibly talented, kind, and generous people in my life makes me very happy. It feels like everything is possible and that you can accomplish ANYTHING. In contrast, when you don’t have that— you start second guessing yourself in all facets of your life, and that can make you incredibly miserable.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a filmmaker turned actor.
Usually it’s the other way around, and I love both, but I really enjoy the immediacy of acting and performing. Both crafts inform the other. I’ll find myself thinking about a moment in a film and how I could do that as an actor but also what was the lens size and lighting setup, what was the context of the story, and mise en scène, and how that all made me feel or how it would inspire me to create.
Recently, street photography really inspires me to develop characters. Living in Los Angeles has a lot of interesting people, so you can’t help but pull from people and wonder what their lives and their stories are about.
I think what sets me apart is probably my upbringing. I grew up in a really small town in the middle-of-close-to-nowhere in Illinois as a minority. This was the 90’s to early 2000’s where what you saw on TV and in movies weren’t actors who looked like me. I kinda have to laugh about it because I had a “safe dream” of being a film director because I thought being an actor was impossible— that the general public wouldn’t accept someone like me to be on screen except as a token character or worse, a one-dimensional villain. That was often the case back then. For 6-7 years I pushed down those feelings of being an actor. Just terrible self deprecation, terrible self image. Almost a fiery hate for who I was. I think, while it was a somewhat damaging experience, I think it gave me resilience, and ultimately self acceptance. I refuse to give up on my dreams, and I think that’s what sets me apart.
I think how I got to where I am now is because of the kindness of a few key people who encouraged me to the path of pursuing acting professionally. My buddy who I met in art school, David Cordero, randomly decided to take photos of me when we were hanging out one night. He complimented me on my presence in photographs. He did all these interesting lighting setups I hadn’t seen before. It was the first time where I actually felt “cool” and validated. And now David is this wonderful artist, designer, and educator in Chicago. I’d highly encourage everyone to check him out here: www.south-shop.com
Later, when I moved to Los Angeles, I was working retail alongside a friend of mine who was an actor. His name is Michael Osborne and he gave me books and resources (stuff that wasn’t super well-known at the time). In addition to being an actor, he’s a great filmmaker and artist. I want to shout him out here:
There’s other wonderful people like actor Michael Liu, photographer Jersey Greene, and writer Lorrena Maria Magaña-Galavis, who gave me all this key information to get my career started.
I’m truly lucky that people were so knowledgeable and encouraging.
It definitely hasn’t been easy. Even to this day, to this moment— I’m still figuring things out, but I think the difference is that I’m embracing the challenges and seeing them as opportunities to develop myself more and more as a performer and storyteller. I’m way more open to trying different things and to go outside of what I thought I should or should not be doing.
The biggest lessons I’ve learned is to slow down and quiet the voice that says you should be doing a billion things at once. The likes and the scrolling and the distraction isn’t worth it. I’m still learning it. Just be conscious of what you’re doing. Be conscious of the moment and not to be on autopilot, ya know? I’m just here, typing away at this sentence, thinking back and enjoying the memories that brought me to this moment and the wonderful people I’ve met along the way.
I think what I want people to take away from all this is to make the choice to be happy with yourself.
A lot of it is a choice, I think.
Yes, we’re all flawed, but that’s OK.
Yes, there’s things in our lives that are out of our control, but hey, do the best you can, right?
When you’re happy with yourself, you really allow yourself to fire on all cylinders, and some of your best work can come from that in whatever it is that you’re pursuing.
I think a lot of happiness involves doing the things you want to do, so don’t live for others’ approval.
I’ve seen the kindness and generosity of my friends and family, and I can see how that plays a big part of their happiness. So be kind and if ya have a little extra, be generous.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
As a caveat, they would have to take a motorcycle riding course and get their M1 motorcycle license with a couple months of riding under their belt. Having a motorcycle in Los Angeles is literally the best hack for living / visiting this city:
You get to all your destinations faster, you can do more in a day, and parking is easier. Riding through the city (while it can be stressful), is actually super fun.
One of my friends did just that and the experience of the city was 10 fold better than any other visit they had previously.
So, as for their itinerary:
Especially if it is their first time, the staple is to ride to Deus Ex Machina in Venice for a quick bite and coffee. It’s a fun shop to look around and meet other motorcyclists who have a passion for custom bikes. From there, ride through Abbott Kinney to Main Street through Santa Monica, then ride PCH and “mosey on up” through the Santa Monica Mountains and experience some of the best canyon riding the world has to offer (sorry, can’t name specifics, but there are some best kept secrets up there). You can stop at numerous outlooks and just take in the serene beauty. It’s absolutely crazy to think that this place is only 20-30 mins from West LA. People from around the world come here just to ride these roads. It’s insanely picturesque.
There’s motorcycle staples like The Rock Store where you can catch Jay Leno driving through on Sunday’s, and of course right off PCH is Neptune’s Net in Ventura which is the very touristy, very iconic ocean side restaurant in the original “Fast and Furious”. But hey! You gotta do it at least once!
The remainder of the week is modge-podge of more motorcycle rides, restaurants, hikes, and cool places.
Another icon of motorcycling in Southern California is The Angeles Crest Highway. It’s otherworldly beauty with more scenic views and landscapes and iconic pit stops like Newcomb’s ranch—- which unfortunately due to the pandemic has been closed, but people still hang out in the parking lot to talk shop and look at people’s cars and bikes. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Say you’re not in the mood to ride, totally fine.
My favorite spots to hike and hang out are the Baldwin Hills Overlook, Kenneth Hahn (during the week!), Malibu Creek Park, and Griffith Park are all staples of Los Angeles for a reason. Pack a picnic, bring a camera, take it all in, and reflect on the good times.
Foodwise: Hollywood Pies and Masa of Echo Park for some Chicago style deep dish pizza, Monty’s makes incredible burgers, Nomoo for more burgers, Ginger’s Ice Cream, Randy’s Donuts, My Lai in Mar Vista, and Tacomiendo. And that’s just off the top of my head! Now I’m hungry!
I know I’m missing so many other activities, but I think all these are a great start.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Hands down, I want to shout out to my lovely wife Michèle. I absolutely would not be the person I am today without her love, support, artistry, and generosity. Whenever I have ideas or thoughts, she’s the first person I turn to make sure they aren’t terrible. Whenever I’m in doubt, she lifts me up. She knows what to say and when to say it. Also, I was really fortunate to grow up with my wildly talented siblings Deeba and Omar. They are some of the most funny and creative people to be around. My brother and sister were heavily involved in school plays and debate and speech teams. They made storytelling such a normal part of my life. I owe so much of my performative confidence to them. They were so supportive of my short films and the feature film I made. My brother is one of the stars in my first film. He was there every single day helping me make that thing a reality. I literally couldn’t have done it without him. My sister has always been such a great sounding board for ideas, and helps me keep ideas on track. She’s a tastemaker for sure. Lastly, I have to shout out to my selfless parents, Meher and Muhammad. They sacrificed so much to come to the United States from India and Bangladesh. They left their families, friends, culture, and livelihood behind to create the basis for the life I have now. They truly cared and were so heavily invested in our education. Thank you. I love you all!