'The Rookie's Titus Makin on Jackson's Evolution & Second Half of Season 2

TITUS MAKIN JR.
Q&A
ABC/Andrew Eccles

Before going on holiday hiatus, The Rookie left viewers with a lot to process from Season 2's fall finale — particularly with Officer Lucy Chen (Melissa O’Neil) getting roofied and stuffed in the trunk by a date turned Mr. Wrong (Michael Cassidy). 

Luckily we have Titus Makin, who portrays second generation LAPD Officer Jackson West, to help make sense of it all. However, trying to get intel out of the multi-talented actor isn’t easy — maybe the 29-year-old’s training as a budding cop is helping in more ways than one! 

Read on for what we were able to glean from the actor.

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You have such a diverse resume prior to The Rookie. What would you say drew you to this part? What separates Officer West from the other characters that you’ve played? 

Titus Makin: What drew me to the part in the first place was it was action. I had never done a role where, one, I was out of high school or college because I look indefinitely young for whatever reason. Two, I also wanted to challenge of playing a cop. I knew there was a lot I had to learn, but I was looking forward to it. I also wanted to do a really cool Will Smith running scene as a cop. 

What were some of the main challenges you face in order to present an authentic representation of a rookie cadet? Something that was actually addressed in the show. How did you prepare? 

We have some fantastic tech advisers. Before each season they come in and put us through a speed version of academy training. We go to the shooting range, learn how to clear a room, arresting. There was definitely a learning curve because there was a lot I didn’t realize about portraying a cop. You would think it’s challenging, but it was even more challenging than you would assume. 

(ABC/Christopher Willard)

In the fall finale we were left with Lucy in serious danger as she was abducted by Caleb, who is presumably working with serial killer Rosalind Dyer (Annie Wersching)? Can we expect an all-hands-on-deck rescue mission with this hitting close to home? Will Bradford (Eric Winter) be leading the charge? 

I think this would be Code Red majorly. I think people can expect to see everyone on board working to make sure she is safe. Bradford will one hundred percent be leading the charge on that. 

When it comes to Jackson, viewers are now getting to see a new love interest coming into the picture. What can you tease about his relationship with Sterling Freeman (Daniel Lissing)? What is it like to show this new side of your character? 

I’m excited to see where it goes. We’re also not done filming the entire season, so I’ve only got to experience a few episodes. He definitely gets to play a role in Jackson’s life for a while. I have no idea where it’s going though. It has been a blast because the actor who plays Sterling is fantastic. It feels like an awesome, safe space where we have fun playing back-and-forth with the dynamic of the characters. 

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After a rocky start to the season, Officer West seems to have started to find his stride and feel more confident in your abilities. Short sleeves! Do you think this will continue or could another struggle be in his future? Will we see him interact with his police commander father again? 

I’ve been super happy that Jackson is developing into more of a boss cop. He really is coming into his own. It has been cool to see him shed that book smart mentality and jump into the street smarts of it all. We continue to see him grow. I was talking to the writers about it. They even asked me, “Do you like seeing Jackson come into his own?” I was like absolutely. After a while it gets annoying to play afraid of everything. Intimidated by it all. I was annoyed as much as the audience probably was. The writers really made a cool adjustment on that. He is moving in a good direction, which he always was in the first place. Though he is excelling quicker now. 

You’ve developed a bond with training Officer Lopez (Alyssa Diaz) given all you’ve been through together. Out of the field she has some trouble ahead with her boyfriend Wesley (Shawn Ashmore) and his struggles with PTSD. Do you see him stepping in to lend support? What can we expect here?  

I’m intrigued to see where that goes myself. I fully believe they will come out on top. I like the dynamic there and that there is an interesting twist to this dominant character. On the surface Wesley is wealthy and has his stuff together, but he has these secrets and struggles. So, it’s really cool to see Lopez have to tap into a softer side, and we see all these colors come out. I’m rooting for them. 

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People are still talking about Captain Anderson (Mercedes Mason) being killed off last season. Do you think we’ll ever see her full-time replacement? 

I don’t know. We’ve kind of buzzing about that on set as well. Are they going to introduce a new captain? They danced around it in a few episodes with a guest star introduced as a captain, but I don’t think they are really going to step back into that stationary world. A lot of the show is on call, out and about in the field. I think it works to the benefit of the show if they keep it out there and not keep so much business at the station. 

The Rookie has been strong in its new night this second season, with ABC giving the series a spring season pickup earlier this fall.Why do you think viewers are connecting with the show?

It’s really cool to see the growth of the show. That’s a huge blessing in general. On top of that, I definitely think it has a lot to do with the fact that it is easy to digest. People can typically watch a cop show or any kind of procedural, get in and out. The thing about our show that really resonates is it’s not just a procedural. It really focuses on the life of a cop. The struggles outside of the workforce. It’s not about us just clocking in, solving the crime. It’s more about the personal lives and the struggles you face as a cop. I think it adds more humanity to the cop drama more than just solving cases. 

ABC

Is there a case or story that you want to see on the show in this world that hasn’t been already?

My friend and I were just talking about this. The show pulls a lot of the calls and things we show up to are pulled from true stories. The majority are actual things that have happened. A funny one my friend brought up was how it would be interesting to see what’s going on in the car when the cops are just swerving down the highway trying to stop all the traffic. You know how annoying it is to get stuck behind that. It would be interesting to see how annoying that call is and how it would be for that cop. On a more serious side, I think it would be fascinating, although it might be sensitive to the climate we’re in. But I think it would be interesting to tell the story of a young African American cop standing off with a young African American vandal of some sort. That dynamic where you’re seeing yourself in the person. The same age, both two young African American men, how would that standoff go? 

Your resume includes performing, even having a run as a Warbler on Glee. I know you’ve been working on some new music under Butterfly Ali. Where did the inspiration for that name come from? 

I’ve done music from the beginning of my career before acting. Butterfly Ali was one of the songs I wrote for the upcoming LP. I sat on that title and in the same way a mother gives birth to a child. I felt like I was birthing this new music and avenue that really spoke to me. I wanted a name that presence and artistry. I love float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. A quote by Muhammad Ali. Butterfly is such a beautiful creature, insect. It shows that you can be this beautiful person and be a boss and stand strong. I put it all together equaling Butterfly Ali. 

The new single Rose has a smooth R&B vibe to it. What kind of response have you gotten so far from it? 

I couldn’t be more blown away by the response. It has only been out a short amount of time and picking up traction. It’s on a radio station today, which is awesome. People have been really receptive to it. They are accepting my soulful side they didn’t know I had. 

Can we expect to see a little musicality on The Rookie? Perhaps a musical episode like other series have done? 

We actually talked to the showrunner and creator [Alexi Hawley] about that because so many of us have the musical background. He was actually really intrigued by the concept and not closed off by the idea. Probably, it would be when we are a few seasons deep. He is open to it. I think it would be hilariously awesome if we can pull it off. 

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Speaking of potential future seasons, what would you like to see happen to Officer West? Will the student become the teacher? Maybe new rookies coming into the fold? 

You nailed it. I would love to see a wave of one or two rookies come in and we get to step up and start becoming training officers ourselves or being in a position where we can go in the field solo and not need to have a training officer. It would be interesting to see how Jackson would do. 

The Rookie, Season 2 Returns, Sunday, February 23, 10/9c, ABC