The millennial content creator, co-host of Keepin’ It Rel with Young Wayne podcast, commercial actor, and event host takes team no sleep, literally. The Whitney Young High School graduate talks with Chicago Defender about his upbringing, how black brotherhood saved his career in Hollywood, and offers advice to rising stars.
Chicago Defender: Wayne you’re no stranger to success. As a veteran Chicago event host and talent, how has the access you’ve gained through expanding to a larger audience played a role in how you navigate in the industry?
Young Wayne: Having a larger audience has expanded my reach directly and allows me to show my personality by creating access into Wayne’s World in a way that has seemingly been impossible. There’s always been a bigger plan at work for me and growth has shifted my perspective to understand it through the lens of “just go with it” (that I learned from Chicago’s Second City Improv School). As my success and notoriety grew, I now understand the power of two words: Yes, And!
Chicago Defender: Growing up in Chicago comes its own set of lessons. What is the most valuable lesson you learned in adolescence that still holds true today?
Young Wayne: Hard work pays off and be yourself (and if you don’t know who that is take time to figure it out). As cliche as it sounds, being consistent as you work to perfect your skill set is the best way to elevate yourself. After the consistency the natural next step is very simple, be yourself. Be the person your family raised you to be. Even with outside influences and those you admire in your industry, their success serves as inspiration for you to make it your own; that gives the industry something new, something fresh to embrace.
Chicago Defender: Let’s talk about your new podcast with comedian and Chicago native, Lil Rel. Keepin’ It Rel with Young Wayne, hit the ground with major success and guests. You’ve featured Tabitha Brown, Tiffany Haddish, DeRay Davis and so many more. Talk to us about this collaboration and how it came to be?
Young Wayne: First of all, thank you! Quick backstory, Rel and I have been good friends for 12 years and have always wanted to do something together, it just needed to make sense. I watched Rel on IG Live (all the time) interacting with his fans/supporters, whether it was telling stories, dropping gems, or re-enacting the Lean On Me movie… I called him one day and said, “Man, as long as you’ve been on LIVE, that could’ve been a podcast episode or something. I think we should do one.” He sounded like he was with it. I immediately called my boy Emmanuel Everett and had him create a one-sheet document detailing what the show would be. It made it all the way through an agency and podcast company and landed us Keepin It Rel With Young Wayne.
Chicago Defender: Friendship and brotherhood in Hollywood appear to be very real amongst black men. What value does it hold and how has that alliance of brothers helped shape the experiences you’ve encountered on your journey?
Young Wayne: I have always known if we as black men could work together, there would be a lot of power in it. It holds extreme value, we are in the rooms now, making major decisions. There’s no time to hold each other back. In my opinion, it’s all about finding those who believe in your vision and talent then cultivating it. We can now put each other in positions to win and elevate our careers.
Chicago Defender: Oftentimes, we see so many of our local talents leaving for New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta. For you, how did Los Angeles represent the tangible next step and why?
Young Wayne: For those unfamiliar with me and my brand, I was working with the Nike/Jordan family in Chicago as a host/personality for a variety of events. Additional opportunities would come but nothing ever steady. One day, a brand rep shared with me that they were canceling events in the city until the NBA All Star 2020… and it was only 2018 (at that time). I immediately processed that as I wouldn’t make money in Chicago for 2 years; because I had a few leads with the brand in Los Angeles, I decided to take my talents here and pursue consistent work. Also, with my commercial acting experience and interest in producing content LA is the place to be.
Chicago Defender: Lastly, what is the best piece of advice you can offer a rising star looking to make noise in the city?
Young Wayne: Stay locked in, stay solid, stay consistent, let your work speak, and tell your story. Allem!!! I say that because so many people believe there’s a person that’s going to “put you on.” Well if that was true, they still need to show your work to make it make sense. So without the work, you have nothing. There’s no timetable on it either, but that shouldn’t discourage you, let it serve as a motivation. The more work you’ve done, the more opportunities you’ve had, means the more prepared you are for the opportunity when it arises. You can’t cheat the work, because there’s a chance, it won’t last.