Derek Yates was born in Chattanooga, TN on December 12th where he was raised by a creative and loving family. He comes by it honest as an artist. His mother, Tiki Finlayson, was pursuing a modeling and acting career until she decided to focus on being a mom, and his father, Mark Yates, can play the drums like no other. And extended out from there just about all of his family members have some sort of artistry in their blood.
He grew up as a fun-loving kid, always imagining and playing, and also always involved in something to express his talents whether it was through plays, singing, or dancing, and sometimes a combination of the three. Through high school he continued to be involved in the arts and even became the President of choir his Senior Year.
Fast forward in his pursuit to express his talents, he auditioned for American Idol, Glee Project, and local talent showcases, all the while never giving up as he knew this was what he was born for. He eventually linked up with Ambiance Models and Talent in Chattanooga, where he began taking acting classes in order to prepare for IMTA in NYC during the Summer of 2009, where he placed in many categories and even had some interest from managers and agents. After that, it only solidified his love for the arts, and before long was booking independent film work allowing him to create an impressive demo reel. He also landed not only his first theater role, but his first musical theater role that was a lead, which was none other than Link Larkin in Hairspray, his favorite musical that was performed at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre in the Summer of 2011.
In January 2012, Derek became represented by The Jana VanDyke Agency for the Southeastern Region. He gained much audition experience that eventually landed him his first non-Union TV show booking on Swamp Murders airing on DiscoveryID in 2014, and then a few months later landed his first Union TV show booking on Hindsight that aired on VH1. That same year right afterward Derek was voted as "Ellen's New Gardener" after his viral video submission won over the hearts of the internet and the producers of the The Ellen Degeneres Show. AND he decided after much thought due to his then recent Eligible status to become a SAG-AFTRA member as a birthday gift to himself to top off 2014.
Eventually, he decided that it was time to take a leap of faith, so by April 2016 he was packed up and driving across the country from TN to CA to move to the best place for acting, Los Angeles, but not before he filmed a role on the primetime TV show on ABC, What Would You Do? and then after relocating to LA booked a role on Being Mary Jane that is set to air on BET in February/March 2017 alongside Gabrielle Union.
As a part of giving back, Derek and his mother co-founded 1N3, a non-profit that raises awareness about the consequences of driving while intoxicated after his brother was killed by a drunk driver on August 1, 2011. While Derek may not be physically present in TN with his mother who travels to various events and schools to speak alongside the woman who killed her son and telling their stories in tandem, he contributes by helping with the larger graphic work and video editing as needed. He hopes to use his platform as an entertainer to raise more awareness as he has already been doing with the 252K+ and growing followers he's accumulated on social media.
Outside of entertainment, Derek enjoys working out to stay healthy and fit, Netflix and Hulu, and just having a fun evening with friends whether it is a night out on the town or simply staying in for a game night.
ACTOR . MODEL