I will confess that I’ve just become a fan of CBS ALL ACCESS “The Good Fight” binging the show in preparation to speak with first-generation Nigerian-American Nyambi Nyambi who plays the character Jay DiPersia and investor with a passion for justice. The acclaimed legal drama returned fo a fourth season this month.
The series—created by Robert King, Michelle King, and Phil Alden Robinson—is a spin-off and sequel to The Good Wife, which was created by the Kings.
The “Good Fight” follows Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart, as she loses her employment after an enormous financial scam destroys the reputation of her goddaughter Maia (Rose Leslie) and Diane’s savings, leading them to join Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) at one of Chicago’s preeminent law firms. The series stars Baranski, Leslie, Jumbo, Erica Tazel, Sarah Steele, Justin Bartha, Delroy Lindo, Michael Boatman, and Audra McDonald, and features Paul Guilfoyle and Bernadette Peters in recurring roles.
If Nyambi Nyambi looks familiar and you are a CBS fan you might know him from starring alongside Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy in the CBS sitcom “Mike & Molly.” For six seasons, Nyambi portrayed the sarcastic Senegalese waiter/café owner Samuel.
The ambitious Nyambi has kept his mind on his money and his money on his mind. Some of his television credits include PBS’ “Mercy Street,” NBC’s “Blindspot” and “American Koko,” an ABC digital series from Viola Davis’ production company JuVee Productions. Plus he’s put his magnificent voice to use in the role of ‘Martian Manhunter’ in the Warner Brothers/DC Entertainment animated features “The Death of Superman” and “Reign of the Supermen.”
An artist who respects every aspect of his craft Nyambi has paid his dues in the theater has been a part of the highly acclaimed production of New York City’s Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park working alongside Al Pacino and Ruben Santiago-Hudson in “The Merchant of Venice” and “The Winter’s Tale.” His additional theater credits include the first Broadway revival of August Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” and the role of Caliban in Classic Stage Company’s “The Tempest,” opposite Mandy Patinkin. He has worked with the Classical Theatre of Harlem and the Williamstown Theater Festival. Nyambi is a proud member of the Labyrinth Theatre Company based in New York City.
Alongside Danai Gurira (“Black Panther”), Nyambi serves on the board for Almasi Collaborative Arts, an organization dedicated to developing emerging African artists.
Maybe his birth (April 26) on the campus of the University of Oklahoma was the first clue thirst to Nyambi’s thirst for knowledge. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Bucknell University before earning his Masters of Fine Arts from the Graduate Acting Program at New York University. A disciplined man Nyambi played four years of Division 1 basketball for Bucknell and made the ESPN Dick Vitale “All-Name Team,” which honors the best names in college basketball. Post-college, Nyambi took on the role of coach and led basketball teams at teen camps.
A comic book aficionado and avid gamer, Nyambi writes and draws in his spare time and has two published works as an author. He contributed a poem to the Eisner Award-winning graphic novel Love is Love, which continues to donate all proceeds to various charities in honor of the victims and their families of the Orlando Pulse shooting. Most recently, Image Comics published a comic he wrote in collaboration with his sisters for the award-winning series “Bitch Planet.”
Here is what fellow Taurean Nigerian-American Nyambi Nyambi had to share about being a part of the CBS family and why he loves comic books.
THE LOS ANGELES TIMES: Well happy almost birthday Nyambi Nyambi. You are April 26th and I am April 27th, I am just saying!
NYAMBI NYAMBI: Thank you and happy birthday early to you, as well.
LAS: Oh my gosh, I love your voice.
NN: (laughing) Thank you.
LAS: I also love you in CBS ALL ACCESS “The Good Fight” and I dig your character [Jay DiPersia] a lot. It’s been a while but how did you find him?
NN: Producer Brooke Kennedy asked me this question early on in the process. One of the important things was that I didn’t know. That’s where the character started. The idea that I don’t know and he doesn’t settle for that. That’s not who he is.
LAS: You are a first-generation Nigerian-American. New York has a healthy enclave. Does Los Angeles?
NN: Yes. Nigerians are everywhere. Literally—everywhere. In all the big cities doing all the big things.
LAS: What I’ve gathered from your biography is that you are a well-rounded artist. I was especially curious about your passion for comic books. Can you share a little bit about that with me?
NN: Yes, I am passionate about comic books. I’ve been a huge fan of comics all my life. The first half of my life was all comic strips and then I discovered the comic book stores, later on in life. For the past 15 years, I’ve had my head in a comic book every single day.
LAS: Wow. Don’t you also do illustrations?
NN: I do. I do. That’s something that I’ve always done. Now I’ve taken a deeper interest in refining my skills. In college, I use to give away drawings as gifts to women that I had crushes on.
NN: Lately I’ve been taking online classes. Trying to soak it all in. Using that work, those drawing skills to help support my imagination when it comes to acting.
LAS: You are a very committed artist. In love with your craft. I respect people who put in the work.
NN: Thank you.
LAS: Can you describe a few of your CBS ALL ACCESS “The Good Fight” colleagues in terms of superheroes from the comic book universe?
NN: (laughing) Wow.
LAS: Just a few. Please.
NN: Ok. Christine Baranski is Wonder Woman. Luka Quinn is Black Canary. Delroy Lindo at first I had him as Superman but now I’ve changed it, he’s Batman.
LAS: Delroy as Batman? I can see that.
NN: He’s been [Delroy] a great friend, off the screen.
Audra McDonald is Storm but as Nubia.
LAS: Nubia? I don’t know that character.
NN: Nubia was the late 70’s. She’s in the Wonderwoman universe and she actually battles Wonderwoman in a couple of issues [of the comic book] and wins. She [Nubia] is also an Amazon. Audra is incredible. Six Tony Awards. Having her on our show and working with her on a daily basis is just a dream come true.
LAS: Preach. What’s next for you — creatively? I’m excited and I will be closely following your journey. I see you, April 26th.
NN: I’m working on a graphic novel, I also took a documentary class and the hope is to do a documentary centered around comics. I’m developing this right now because of this pandemic a lot of these comic book stores are suffering. They are small businesses.
LAS: I can imagine.
NN: When we come out of it and where we come out of it, it’s tough to gauge where some of these businesses will be at the end of the spectrum. A colleague and I are shaping up a short film right now. Our goal is to then push it to a full-length film. I’m writing it with my writing partner.
LAS: When you can share more — will you?
NN: Of course. Happy Birthday, April 27th.
LAS: Happy Birthday, April, 26th.
Nyambi Nyambi (@Nyambi) · Twitter
This phone interview has been edited for clarity and length.