As a dancer Woody McClain toured with some of the biggest names in music. Using his talent as a performer, while on the road he began creating video content in an attempt to build his profile as an actor and social influencer. Rather than waiting for an opportunity to be seen he created his own. Woody saw opportunity in Kevin Hart’s, Permission to cuss stand-up comedy routine and decided to bring it to life. You’ve more than likely seen it. Kevin Hart did and liked it enough to invite Woody for a meeting. The rest it history.
Woody McClain has now traded in his dancing shoes for the big screen. He stopped by to tell us about his journey and what’s to come.
What is something you’re obsessed with?
Woody: I am obsessed with bowling. I am the best bowler you will ever meet. Not really, I’m not, but I’m pretty good.
What’s your high score?
Woody: My highest score is like 185. I don’t want to brag though.
What three words best describe you?
Woody: It would have to be goofy, serious, and Kind-hearted.
What weird talent do you have?
Woody: I can play the Tuba.
What are your three favorite apps on your phone?
Woody: Instagram, Facebook because all of my Aunties and Uncles be on Facebook and my PayPal app.
What’s a fashion trend that you are really glad went away?
Woody: The tall T’s. The super long T Shirts that I used to wear in middle school. I’m happy those are gone. They were horrible.
Time freezes for everyone but you for one day. What do you do?
Woody: I think I would probably just go on a shopping spree and get anything I wanted. Is that legal?
If you could shop for free at one store what would it be?
Woody: I like Topman. Topman is dope.
What does your personal hell look like?
Woody: My personal hell is babysitting a whole bunch of babies at once. That’s hell. [laughs]
If you could appear on one television game show which would it be?
Woody: Is Lip Sync Battle a game show? I want to do that for sure because I’d kill it.
Where are you from?
Woody: I am originally from Charleston, South Carolina, but I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida.
You toured with Chris Brown as a dancer?
Woody: Yes, I did three tours with him.
How was that experience?
Woody: Man, it was great. He’s just a lot of fun, and we are both super goofy and silly so we made a lot of comedy videos and just had a lot of fun.
The content creation part of your career started in tandem with dancing?
Woody: Yes. My friend Splack came to me when Vine first started and he was like, “Yo, dude you’ve gotta jump on Vine with us.” and I was like, “no, that’s stupid. I want to dance.” Then I happened to go on Facebook and I saw this video on my Facebook with 30 million views and I called him back and was like, “Yes, so about that Vine thing, can I still do it?” He’s like, “No.” but he called the next day and was like, “Yes, let’s do it.”
From there I just always wanted to create and just make people laugh.
What motivated the Permission to Cuss, Kevin Hart parody video?
Woody: I just happened to be sitting at home and I don’t know what I was doing, but I heard the Kevin Hart special from the next room and I was imagining in my head like, “Yo, this is funny, somebody needs to actually do it.” We can hear him talking about it, but nobody has actually brought it to life. I was like, “I think that’d be really cool if I did that.” We posted it. The next day, woke up and it had ten million views and then Kevin Hart’s guy called me and came and met with me and then I got signed by Laugh Out Loud.
Was your goal to get the attention of Kevin?
Woody: I didn’t think of it. When you’re creating videos you don’t really think anything of it. I have no expectations for anything that I do. I hate to be disappointed. I just did it, watched it and I was like, “Oh, yeah this is funny.” I posted it and then I woke up to like one hundred and something text messages like, “This is genius.”
Then when I got the call from Wayne and we came in and met Kevin. He was super serious and all about business but he loved the concept that I brought to him and he just wanted to do more. We did 12 more for his act, Laugh Out Loud, and hopefully I can work with him on some other stuff soon.
When you met him for the first time were you nervous?
Woody: No, no I don’t think so. I was dancing for so long and I’ve met so many people it was just like, “Oh, you liked it? Oh that’s dope man, I’m happy you liked it, let’s do more.” [laughs]
The transition from social / digital media star to television and film star can be difficult. How did you achieve success there?
Woody: I feel like a lot of people in the industry look down on people that do social media but what they don’t understand is we’re learning how to write, produce, direct, act in our own stuff. If you’re doing this consistently for years you become a natural at it. It’s just like sharpening that tool.
My content, personally, I’ve always been super grounded. I was never over the top goofy. I made sure all of my comedy and all of my content came from a real place. It was easy for me to transition from social media.
What are you working on right now?
Woody: I just shot a film called, Canal Street, directed by Rhyan LaMarr. I’m super excited for the world to see that. It’s crazy.
Can you tell us a little about the character you play?
Woody: I play a character named, MayMay. He comes from the streets, but he’s not a threatening guy. He just gets caught up in the wrong situation. Everybody’s pointing fingers at these group of kids, and we don’t know what’s going on. I can’t even say no more, because I feel like I’m about to give up the plot. It’s going to be great, I promise.
Is there more dancing in your future, on the professional level?
Woody: No. Never. I will never go back on another tour ever again. My knees are done. My knees hurt so bad. I also have the Bobby Brown project coming up. That will probably be the last time you ever see me dancing. Unless, I do Lip Sync Battle. [laughs]
Tell us about playing Bobby Brown, how did that come about?
Woody: It was just the right timing, because when I was dancing, I was brought in to be the dance double for Bobby Brown, for the Whitney Houston story. Then I came in and I met Angela Bassett, the director. She’s like, “Who are you? Where did you come from?” I’m like, “Oh, I’m a dancer.” She’s like, “Okay. All right, go ahead.”
That was the first time I was introduced to Bobby Brown. I didn’t know he was such a great performer. Then after that, I got hired to dance at the Soul Train Awards with Brandy. Then they said last minute, “Oh, you guys have to dance with Bobby Brown. He’s going to be doing, Every little step.” I was like, “Oh, shit. That’s dope.” Second time Bobby. The third time they came around, they was like, “They’re doing this New Edition movie, you should go audition for Bobby Brown. I’m like, “This is the third time. I might as well give it a shot.” I gave it a shot. Shout out to Robi Reed and Tina Robinson for hooking it all up.
If you could go back to your younger self and give one piece of advise, what would it be?
Woody: I would say, you’re doing great. All the hard stuff you’re going through right now, it’s just preparing you to be a better person. I would remind myself to treat people like human beings. In the industry I’ve seen people treat certain people poorly. Treat certain people like they’re beneath them. We’re all equal.
If you could share the screen with any other actor or actress, who would it be, and why?
Woody: Easy, Eddie Murphy. I grew up watching all the Eddie Murphy stuff. I would love to share the screen with Eddie, for sure. He could play my dad. That would be dope.
Anything else you would like to go OnRCRD?
Woody: I want to go on the record to say, I am the best at whatever I decide to do. Nobody is ever better than me. I will be the best. I am the best. Mic drop. [laughter] My Kanye moment.
To keep up with Woody, follow him @woody_thegreat
Photographer – Mario Barberio
Grooming – Kimberly Johnson
Wardrobe Stylist – Joi Salvador