My earliest memories of Damon Wayans are from his brief, almost cameo role in Beverly Hills Cop and his awesome characters on the Fox sketch comedy show In Living Color—especially Homey D. Clown!
When I first saw a message from Twitter that Damon Wayans was following me I assumed it was either a fake account or just *a* Damon Wayans. Surely THE Damon Wayans wouldn’t follow me on Twitter. I called it out on Twitter, though, and behold it was the authentic, Damon Wayans!
After some back and forth on Twitter we’re now on a first-name basis—he told me I can call him Damon. I did a little digging and found that he’s one of the celebrities who has branched out into technology. Ashton Kutcher invests in Uber and Airbnb. Ryan Seacrest builds physical keyboard add-ons for iPhones—or at least he tried to before BlackBerry shut him down. Dr. Dre makes headphones and streaming music services. Will.i.am tried his hand at crafting a smartwatch. Damon chose to go into app development with Flick Dat.
My curiosity was piqued, so I reached out to Damon to talk about how he went from comedy to tech, or how the two worlds mesh for him now. While we were at it, I delved into some general background as well to learn more about what makes him tick.
I learned that Damon chooses Star Trek over Star Wars and Marvel over DC. His favorite sport is basketball—and if Wikipedia is correct he’s good friends with one of the greatest players to ever step on the court, Michael Jordan.
Damon told me that his taste in music is quite eclectic—a side effect from his younger days as a DJ. His musical idol growing up, though, was Michael Jackson and the first concert he ever went to was The Jackson 5. He also appeared in a Janet Jackson video.
Then we moved on to the tech stuff. As I mentioned above, Damon has gotten into the world of tech through app development. He still performs and does stand up comedy, but he also launched a company called MIMS, which stands for Money In My Sleep, and has worked with his team of developers to create a few apps—namely Flick Dat.
I asked Damon what sparked him to jump into the world of tech. He explained, “I woke up and realized that content creation was a sucker’s game through the disruption of traditional media. It’s about distribution! So I decided to stop being a content create-whore and become a distribution-pimp!”
The first app he created was Flick Dat—a digital business card creator that allows you to turn any contact into a simple or tricked-out business card, complete with a custom video greeting or photo background. You can send and receive and categorize the digital business cards with a simple flick gesture in the app. Damon told me, “I got the idea by going to conventions and returning with a stack of cards I didn’t remember whom I got them from.”
Damon is not a developer. He has a team of work-for-hire developers, but he oversees the vision. He told me that he owns all of the intellectual property and dictates the overall user interface and user experience elements of the apps.
He isn’t completely new to tech. Damon told me that he doesn’t remember exactly what make or model his first computer was, but he’s positive it was a Windows PC. He got fed up with being inundated with pop-ups and made a switch to Mac. Now he’s a Mac diehard, but he always stays one major OS release behind the curve to give Apple plenty of time to work out any bugs.
Damon has two smartphones—an iPhone 6 Plus and a BlackBerry he uses just for email. That actually seems somewhat common among celebrities for some reason. On the tablet side he told me that he has every generation of the iPad so he can test out his apps and make sure they function properly across all of the hardware versions.
I inquired about how Damon uses technology—computers, mobile devices, apps, etc.—personally on a daily basis. He said, “On a day-to-day I write scripts and test apps with technology. I do a bit of social media but I limit my involvement. I feel it detracts from my creativity.”
Damon believes the number one benefit of the technology we use today is the fact that we have access to all of the knowledge in the world right in our pockets. Professionally, though, Damon feels like technology is a bit of a double-edged sword. “In some respects tech has helped by getting me involved in mobile app development and allowing me a new way of staying relevant with the fans. Tech has hurt me because it’s killing the old revenue streams for content creators.”
What inspires Damon Wayans? “What inspires me today is knowing that whatever I can dream I can probably make a reality with technology.”
He was less forthcoming in talking about what exactly those dreams might look like. “I have several ideas but I’d have to kill you if I told you what they were. I’m mostly interested in video though. I have 30-plus years’ experience as a writer, director and producer of television and film so I plan to use that to create fun tools for users.”
Fair enough. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s on the horizon for one of my favorite celebrities. Mr Wayans—I mean Damon—has a standing invitation to go grab a beer together next time he’s in Houston. My treat.