What inspired you to become an actor in such a competitive industry?
What inspired me to become an actor was a combination of things. I started modeling back in high school and I had a friend who was a talent manager ask me if I ever thought about acting. I was already a big movie buff, so that was the first seed planted. It took me a long time to finally take it seriously and get over my tremendous insecurities, but I eventually found an acting class that really helped me find my motivation, and reinvigorated my desire to tell stories as an actor. That mindset led me to meet Jimmy Gonzales, who became a great friend and mentor to me. And he is the person most responsible for me having a career today. He was very generous with information and laid me a blueprint of how to get in the game
How has being on BET’s hit series, “Bruh” impacted your life?
Being on “Bruh” has completely changed my life for the better! Tyler Perry gave me an opportunity to finally be able to say I am making a living as an actor. Getting over that hump was really challenging for me, so the show was really a milestone. And I’ve really bonded with my castmates. We became a family, and all of those people will be my friends for life. I have also had the opportunity to audition for and play more challenging parts on other shows and movies since being on “Bruh.” So it has enabled me to grow in so many ways. And I have taken my mom on a couple nice trips too. I joked with her that being a good mom eventually pays off. It just took a lot longer than she may have hoped lol.
What does success look like for you?
Success is being able to continue to make a comfortable living by doing something I love and is fulfilling. That coupled with being able to connect with people and spread love through the art.
What are some of your rituals before getting in front of the camera?
Before getting in front of the camera, I always like to do hours of solo work on the scripts. I will absorb the script, and create the circumstances in my imagination to make it real to me. Then I like to work with a partner and have all the conversations from the script with them to familiarize myself with saying the words aloud. Then on the day I will rehearse with the other actor if they are willing. Some actors don’t like to rehearse, and I respect that. Then we will just wait for the director to yell “action,” and let the magic happen.
What type of training or coaching is necessary to be your best?
The type of training I find necessary to be my best is a mixture of different tools I’ve learned along the way. I view acting training as analogous to physical training. The goal is often the same, to build a physique, but there are different ways to achieve that goal. In acting the goal is to tell the truth on camera, and there are many different methods and techniques to try to help accomplish that goal. We all have to find what works best for us. I have found that strengthening my imagination is what I need to be at my best. That’s a continuous process, and requires a daily practice just like working out. I also work with a coach who is a working writer/director, so he is great at giving notes on how I can better tell the story.
What advice would you give someone who seeks to become an actor?
The best advice I would give someone seeking to become and actor is that it’s not about being good, it’s about being useful. Good is arbitrary. You can be good sitting at home watching TV. If you are useful to tell the story, then you will be used, meaning people will hire you. It’s never about us as the actor. It’s always about the story. So the more we understand that we are only there to serve the story, the better we will become at actually serving it. And that means leave the ego at the door. Sometimes we will be called upon to serve the story by saying only one word. Sometimes we will be called upon to be the lead. Embrace both. Be of service. Listen to those who have walked the path before you
Where would you like to see your career in the next five years?
In the next five years I would like to have a few more movies under my belt. I would like to play a part that challenges me by having to show a lot of vulnerability. That scares me, so I know it’s something I have to do to continue to grow. I would like to play an antagonist. The “nice guy” type roles have been my bread and butter, and I’m thankful for that, but I know I have a dark side that I have yet to share on screen. And I would also like to have completed my first writing project
About Mahdi Cocci
Mahdi Cocci currently stars in the BET+ series “Bruh,” a 30-min comedy series from powerhouse producer Tyler Perry, which celebrates black male brotherhood. Cocci also co-stars in the NETFLIX romantic comedy feature THE LOVEBIRDS opposite Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani, which is now streaming.
BET+ series “Bruh” examines the contemporary world of dating, career, and friendship through the lens of four African American men with a brother-like bond. Cocci plays Tom, a doctor with lady problems, but he is also the glue that holds the group together. “Bruh” Seasons 1, 2, and 3 can be streamed on BET+, and they have been renewed for a fourth season.
THE LOVEBIRDS is a rom-com from Paramount/Netflix that tells the story of couple Jibran (Nanjiani) and Leilani (Rae), who on the brink of breaking up, get unintentionally embroiled in a bizarre murder mystery. Cocci portrays Keith, a coworker to Leilani, whose friendship with Leilani causes Jibran to be jealous. Originally scheduled to premiere at SXSW, the film is now streaming on Netflix.
Cocci was born in Minneapolis, MN, and was raised by his mother, Stephanie. Education was always emphasized growing up, and Mahdi earned a full Navy ROTC scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh. He put his burgeoning modeling career on hold to serve as an officer in the Navy upon graduation. After serving honorably, Cocci shifted gears and pursued a career in acting. His first professional credit was earned on the TV series, Dynasty, in 2018, roles on other network shows soon followed, including The Terminal List, Games People Play, The Gifted, The Resident, MacGyver and more. Mahdi will be appearing in a recurring role in an upcoming Marvel project, The Walking Dead, Grownish and a BET+ Original Movie in 2022.