Wayans. The mere mention of the name likely brings to mind the talented siblings who took Hollywood by storm in the 1990’s and successfully created a dynasty that traversed the decade and reigns to this day. Determined to carry the torch, the latest generation of Wayans is working hard to earn their rightful place on the throne.
Says Damien, “There was always a misconception of what it’s like being a Wayans or a second generation Wayans. A lot of people thought we were just born into money and it was like—nope—it was a tough road, a tough journey.” But the Wayans are nothing if not tough. The new kids on the Wayans family block have taken the popular misconception of a cookie cutter lifestyle and capitalized on it, resulting in the launch of BET’s Second Generation Wayans show.
“You know, me and my cousin Craig [who co stars in the show] were project kids, project bred—we were not born with a silver spoon in our mouths,” Damien reveals. People look at you in a good light sometimes and people look at you in a negative light sometimes. Because you are a Wayans, they expect you to be [like] your family at times. We’re trying to carve our own name and ground ourselves, like our uncles grounded themselves.”
In keeping with family tradition Marlon Wayans, Damien’s uncle, is one of the executive producers for Second Generation Wayans. The show, which Damien says is largely based on real life experiences, reflects years of the ups and downs, successes and failures which he and the younger Wayans have experienced while trying to break into showbiz. Because ‘elders’ Shawn, Keenen, and Marlon have frequently appeared in the spotlight, the assumption is that the entire Wayans family is solidly linked into the film industry. With Second Generation Wayans Damien, his cousin Craig, and Uncle Marlon wanted to dispel that notion and portray the true path which the younger generation has taken.
“Hollywood is a very fickle town,” explains Damien. “It’s a very ‘What have you done today?’ type of town especially now a days. They’re not making certain types of movies like they used to. Sometimes you feel like Hollywood is its own clique, so that’s why I’m happy I got my clique—my Wayans clique!”
Underneath it all is the rocky, albeit quirky, and genuine love that is the glue that bonds the Wayans together.
“It’s always fun being able to do what you love, and my family is my best friend; so throughout the years that I’ve been working with family it has kind of become second nature. You know, we have our arguments; we have our disagreements, but at the core of it all we are family, and we love to have fun with each other.”
Outside of the show when he’s not working out at a spin class, or chowing down on some Crazy Rocking Sushi on Santa Monica Boulevard, he’s writing and working on projects for his production company. In addition to developing a movie, he’s also directing a six part You Tube web series called That’s a Friend. The series is designed to make viewers beg the question “Is my friend really ride or die?”
“It’s about putting your friend to the ultimate test,” says Damien. “So if you’ve ever wondered, ‘How ride or die would my friend really be in a time of need?’ we take scenarios and we see how ride or die that friend really is.”
The multifaceted Damien Wayans is slowly proving his staying power in this industry, leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that he is indeed a ride or die Wayans.