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Well, as a first-timer, there’s always going to be challenges. But I had my family around, and that’s always

good, since they’re funny guys and add to the process. If they were unfunny, that would probably be a problem.

They’re also producers who understand that they have a brand, who know how to execute that brand



Shawn and Damien Wayans

The Dance Flick Interview with Kam Williams


In 2000, the Wayans Brothers made a big splash with Scary Movie, a hilarious spoof of horror flicks. Since that phenomenal franchise has raked in about a billion dollars at the box office, it’s no surprise that it also spawned a cottage industry of imitators, including such similar parodies as Not Another Teen Movie, Date Movie, Epic Movie, Superhero Movie, Meet the Spartans and Disaster Movie.

Now the Wayans have returned to the genre with Dance Flick, a spoof of dance films featuring plenty of their relatives both in front of and behind the camera. Directed by Damien Wayans, the picture is based on a script he co-wrote with his Uncles Shawn, Keenan Ivory, Marlon and Cousin Craig. Plus, the movie stars ten Wayans: Damon, Jr., Kim, Shawn, Marlon, Craig, Keenan, Chaunte, Michael, Cara Mia and Gregory.

Recently, Shawn and Damien shared their thoughts with me not only about making the movie but about being members of a family which has become as associated with acting as families with pedigreed thespian lineages like the Barrymores, the Phoenixes, the Fondas, the Bridges, the Baldwins, the Arquettes and the Redgraves.

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Kam Williams: Shawn, Damien, thanks for the time.

Shawn Wayans: Hey, what it do, Kam?

Damien Wayans: Hi.

KW: Shawn, the first time I ever interviewed you was at the Four Seasons for Scary Movie. You might remember it because I brought my young son along who was in the fourth grade at the time. He was dying to meet you and Marlon because he watched your TV show, “The Wayans Bros,” every day after school. And you guys were great with him, signing autographs and taking pictures with him.

SW: That’s right. I remember. How’s he doing?

KW: Very well, thanks. He’s a sophomore at Princeton.

SW: Wow, that’s great! Time sure goes by fast, huh?

KW: What took you so long to parody another genre? After all, the Wayans revived the whole interest in spoofs with Scary Movie. But then everybody started ripping off your idea with Date Movie, Epic Movie, Superhero Movie, Disaster Movie and Not Another Teen Movie

SW: You mean, “Not a Wayans Movie.” Yeah, we did start something, but we took time off to pursue some other projects. Then, when we missed having that kind of fun, we picked a genre that we wanted to lampoon and went back at it.

KW: Damien, this movie marks your feature film directorial debut. How challenging did you find it?

DW: Well, as a first-timer, there’s always going to be challenges. But I had my family around, and that’s always good, since they’re funny guys and add to the process. If they were unfunny, that would probably be a problem. They’re also producers who understand that they have a brand, who know how to execute that brand and to make sure that comes across. And I think they did a good job.  

KW: Did you have a hard time commanding the respect of your veteran actor relatives in the cast, being younger than them?

DW: Nah, they all listen. They’re uncles, and at the end of the day, they want that respect. And they earned it.

SW: We all respected each other. We thought he was the guy for the job because we knew he had the talent to be able to do this. It was a really fun, family project, and we had a good time.

KW: Why is it so many actors and actresses I interview credit a Wayans brother for helping them get their start? 

SW: Yeah, we’ve helped a lot of folks. [Chuckles] But we had help. My brother Keenan helped us. So, we try to help other people who share that passion and are serious about comedy.

KW: I see that five of you worked on the script for Dance Flick. What was involved in that process?

SW: We just went into a room, drank some green tea, began feeling jittery, and started being funny. [Laughs]

KW: When coming up with ideas, do you think about how expensive it will be to shoot a particular stunt?

SW: Yeah, as you get closer to the actual time when the movie’s going to be shot, the more challenging  the stuff you wrote hopped-up on green tea becomes to execute.

DW: [Laughs] Exactly!

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks, who do you think would make a good Supreme Court Justice?

SW: Who do I think would make a good Supreme Court Justice? Michelle Obama.

DW: I’m a go with Judge Mathis, or Oprah. [Chuckles]

SW: Hold on, he’s got more questions. You might want to save Oprah.

KW: You might answer Oprah to The Rudy Lewis question: Who’s at the top of your hero list?

DW: Keenan.

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

SW: Eat Right for Your Metabolism by Felicia Drury Kliment.

DW: Mine was Donald Goines’ Black Girl Lost.

KW: Bobby Shenker wants to know whether that hilarious “Men on Film” sketch from In Living Color will ever be adapted in to a movie.

SW: Will it ever? I can’t say whether it might ever make its way to film, but I can’t say never either. 

KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?

SW: I guess of flying.

DW: If he didn’t say that, I was just about to say it. That man is nervous about flying.

SW: I don’t really like flying, and I ain’t down with getting in the ocean either. Sharks!

DW: Me, I was a little nervous about this movie until Keenan calmed me down when he came in and said, “You’re doing a good job. You rock!”

KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?

SW: Yes, very happy!

KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good belly laugh?

SW: Watching this movie.

DW: Yeah, watching David Alan Grier play Sugar Bear. [Laughs]

SW: And watching that scene from Superbad where they were drawing penises.

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What music are you listening to nowadays? 

DW: Ooh, that’s a good one. I rock that Jay-Z all the time, and Diddy.

SW: I have to listen to older music because I don’t feel like we’re getting great new music right now. I like Kanye… Common… Little Wayne…

DW: Yeah, I like Kanye. I love what he’s doing. I’m a big Dre fan, and Eminem.  

KW: The Laz Alonso question: How can your fans help you?

DW: By coming out to see Dance Flick, and bring everybody you know.

SW: And don’t bootleg our movies.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

DW: I know what Shawn sees. You see Grandpa, because you look just like him.

SW: What do I see? A hard worker.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

SW: That question.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

DW: I would say, to keep the hustle alive, never take “No” for an answer.

SW: And stay close to your family, and teach those younger than you how to do it.

KW: How do you feel when Barack Obama became President of the United States?

SW: It was an unbelievable feeling.

DW:: Yeah, it was incredible.

KW: “Realtor to the Stars” Jimmy Bayan’s question: Where in L.A. do you live?

SW: I’d rather not say.

DW: I stay down the block from where you don’t want to go.

KW: Do you still have ties to New York?

SW: Yeah, New York will always be a big part of our heart and our soul.

KW: What’s the target audience for Dance Flick?

SW: Anyone who wants to laugh.

KW: How do you want to be remembered?

SW: As guys who did some quality work and who were good people.

KW: Is there any message that people can take away from this movie?

SW: That even during a recession, you can laugh.

KW: Well, I really appreciate the interview, and best of luck with the film.

DW: Thank you.

SW: I’m glad to hear your son’s doing well. Tell him I said, “Hi!”

KW: Will do, definitely.

To see a trailer for Dance Flick, visit:

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Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered

the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

By H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar's astonishing rise to become the world's principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar's changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America's economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan's bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt's handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar's dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power--and the enormous risks--of the dollar's worldwide reign.  The Economy

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Sex at the Margins

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This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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The White Masters of the World

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W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 21 May 2009




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