Actor & Comedian Woody McClain Talks New Series, Stories With Kev, Being A Black Man In Comedy, & What’s To Come
Woody McClain, a name that’s become extremely familiar within the comedic and acting realm, as of late. For this Charleston, South Carolina-bred actor and comedian, the gift of providing good laughter and entertainment for the soul comes effortlessly. Whether he’s making people ferociously laugh at his undeniably funny video skits, online, or making viewers grow an outstanding amount of admiration for each and every good or bad character that he portrays, we can all attest that Woody McClain is an inimitable talent.
When the 28-year-old dropped out of college and uprooted from Jacksonville, Florida to Los Angeles, California, he never imagined that he’d someday be one of social media’s most prized digital content creators, nor did he think that he’d be a rising actor, worldly recognized for portraying an iconic R&B/Pop legend—New Edition member Bobby Brown, in the heralded BET biopic, The New Edition Story.
Early on for McClain, it was all about the music, he says. He actually had dreams of becoming a band director, but, after gaining inspiration from a dance crew on the campus of his college, his road to success was rerouted. McClain was soon an aspiring professional dancer, seeking opportunity in the land of endless opportunities as he moved to Los Angeles, back in 2012. It wasn’t long before his hunger for the stage actually led him to sharing the stage with famed artists, such as Chris Brown and Fifth Harmony, performing as a backup dancer.
Still, more was in store for him. You never know where life may take you, and, ironically, it took McClain from dancing with the stars to becoming a star, himself. After uploading comedy skits to YouTube and other social media platforms, McClain quickly realized that dancing wasn’t the only way that he could entertain the people. His parody rendition of Kevin Hart’s “Permission To Cuss” went viral, as it not only gained him a worldwide following but the attention of Kevin Hart, himself, too.
In 2015, McClain signed with Kevin Hart’s production company, HartBeat Digital. But, though comedy had become a new love for McClain, through acting out his skits, he decided that it was time to venture off into the big screen. He snagged his first breakout, leading role in The New Edition Story, and, from there, things have only been looking up for Woody McClain. Following the great success of the film, McClain was recently seen in BET’s Tales, and he is also set to take on the role of ‘MayMay’ in the 2018 film, Canal Street, which will also feature Bryshere Gray.
However, one of his biggest achievements yet happens to be his latest endeavor, Stories With Kev, a Laugh Out Loud network-exclusive series, created, executive produced by, and starring McClain.
An illustrious digital content creator, budding actor, and honed comedy man, without a doubt, McClain is headed for the top, using his passion to fulfill his purpose… and there is no stopping him now.
We recently caught up with Woody McClain to talk about his new series, Stories with Kev, being a black man in comedy, and what’s to come. Check it out below!
Parlé Mag: Let’s talk about your newest comedy series, Stories With Kev, which just recently premiered via Laugh Out Loud Network. As we know, the series is based on Kevin Hart’s infamous stand-up routines, with you taking on the starring role of Kevin, himself. So, tell us, you also being the creator and executive producer, what was the process in coming up with the concept for it and actually bringing the whole project to life?
Woody McClain: Man! I just really loved Kevin Hart’s storytelling. You know what I mean? Every time I see him doing his stand-up, I can literally see the story in my head. So, for me, it was just that I wanted people to see it how I see it. You can see something like three hundred million ways, but I just wanted the audience to see how Woody sees it.
Parlé Mag: So, how did you pitch the idea to Kevin?
Woody McClain: We didn’t even pitch it to Kevin. It was just one of those things where we did his ‘Permission to Cuss’, and it went viral online. His right-hand man, Wayne, reached out to me and was like, “Yo, dude! You have to come in and meet Kev.” From there, Kevin always said that we were going to do something. So, when he had the opportunity to do his Laugh Out Loud platform, he gave me the opportunity to executive produce and star in Stories With Kev for it.
Parlé Mag: Wow, that’s amazing!
Woody McClain: Yeah! Super dope.
Parlé Mag: You’ve also been signed to Kevin Hart’s HartBeat Digital for a good while now, and, aside from that, it seems that you two have also built some sort of a friendship. So, in getting to know the man behind the comedy, what would you say you’ve grown to learn and respect the most about Kevin and his craft?
Woody McClain: It’s not all fun and games with Kevin. We see him online, and he’s always laughing and joking, but he’s super professional. He’s all about his business and about making a better future for his family. I really look up to him for that.
Parlé Mag: As not only an actor, but a comedian and content creator, when it comes to recreating or pulling inspiration from other comics and creators, how do you go about delivering it in a way that’s fitting for your style of comedy and, also, at the same time, making it your own?
Woody McClain: Hmm, that’s a good one! I look up to people like Eddie Murphy, Bernie Mac, Martin Lawrence; they’re all my favorites for different reasons. I love how Eddie Murphy can turn into a different character. I love how Martin Lawrence uses his body to make people laugh. I love how Bernie Mac just didn’t care about what people thought about him. So, I just take all of those things, and I apply that to myself. But, I use my real life situations, so that’s how it becomes mine.
Parlé Mag: What do you think viewers will enjoy most about Stories With Kev?
Woody McClain: This is funny! [laughs] Kevin is a funny guy. If you heard his stand-up, it had you dying, but with the visuals, I think it takes it to the next level.
Parlé Mag: Being that you have been a strong force within the comedic realm of digital media, how important is it for you to produce diverse content that can really push the limits and unconventionally showcase your ability to think outside of the box?
Woody McClain: I think it’s super important to have a broad range of comedy. One thing I’ve learned from Kevin, he always says that he’s not trying to be ‘white funny’, he’s not trying to be ‘black funny’, he’s just trying to be funny. You know what I mean? He doesn’t want any labels attached to it; he just wants to make the world laugh, and that’s one of the things that I really, really got from Kevin. Just being funny, not one type of funny.
Parlé Mag: What do you think are some of the biggest challenges for black men in comedy and Hollywood, in general, and how do you hope to kind of break those barriers and bridge that gap of division?
Woody McClain: I think that comedy is so different from when I used to wake up and watch Def Comedy Jam. I was so used to hearing people say the things that they felt, but, now, we can’t really do that because if you say something, you’re going to have like thirty thousand people talking about you in your comments.
Parlé Mag: Right.
Woody McClain: They think it doesn’t affect us. It kind of does, a little bit. So, I feel like that’s tough. I can’t even answer that question, man. I don’t even know how.
Parlé Mag: I guess because there are so many challenges!
Woody McClain: Yeah, it is! It’s a lot.
Parlé Mag: We all know that you have the gift of making people laugh, but do you ever find it difficult to put that humorous side of you away when having to get into more serious acting roles? Let’s take The New Edition Story, for instance; there were some parts where you had to get really serious.
Woody McClain: Oh, no. I love it all! I love it all, equally. One thing I love about acting is that I love to make people feel; I love to see other people feel emotions, so if it’s a serious role, best believe I’m going to be serious. If it’s time for me to be funny, I’m going to be that funny guy. If it’s time for me to be romantic, best believe… [laughs]
Parlé Mag: [laughs]
Woody McClain: I just love making people feel, so I don’t think it’s hard to tap into that.
Parlé Mag: Speaking of The New Edition Story, are there any plans for you to also portray Bobby Brown, again, in his forthcoming biopic?
Woody McClain: Ooooh, I’ve been hearing about that! I don’t know. So, I’m just excited to see what happens.
Parlé Mag: You recently appeared in BET’s Tales. What’s the backstory behind you becoming apart of that project?
Woody McClain: Oh, yes! My team hit me up, and they asked me to go audition for Tales. I auditioned; I got the role. Just meeting with Irv Gotti and hearing his vision, it was amazing, and I had to be a part of that project. Irv is so visual, and he’s a fun guy. It was such a blessing to be a part of his vision.
Parlé Mag: Taking things back to the beginning, you actually started out as an aspiring professional dancer. Now, you’re a successful actor and comedian. What has been the biggest adjustment for you, thus far, with your newfound lifestyle?
Woody McClain: The biggest challenge, for me, has been my weight.
Parlé Mag: Really?
Woody McClain: As a dancer, I was in shape. I was so in shape that I used to not care about what I would eat. I never worked out, and I was like one fifty. Now, if I don’t work out, my body is like, ‘What are you doing?’ [laughs] So, I have to like force myself to go to the gym.
Parlé Mag: So, would you ever go back to professional dancing?
Woody McClain: Oh, nah!
Parlé Mag: [laughs] Why not?
Woody McClain: My knees are done. They start cracking, and you can hear them crack!
Parlé Mag: Looking at your career, as a whole, did you ever expect to be right here, in this position, at this point in your life?
Woody McClain: No, never. I really thought that I was going to be a band director. It was all about music, for me. I went to Florida A&M University and was in the marching one hundred band. I knew that this was going to be my life, forever! Until I went to this dance crew on campus, called ‘FAMU Strikers’. When I went to their show, I saw all of these girls screaming, all of these regular dudes who you see on campus, every single day. And, I’m like, ‘You know what? I think I need to be a dancer. I need to have women screaming for me, as well.’ [laughs] So, I mean, it always changes for me; the motives are always changing.
Parlé Mag: What do you think are the key ingredients to obtaining success?
Woody McClain: Just staying motivated, staying focused. Don’t let anybody take you out of your lane. Just be consistent. I feel like those are the things that you need.
Parlé Mag: When it’s all said and done, what impact do you want to leave with the people? What do you want people to understand about Woody McClain and your craft?
Woody McClain: What I want to leave? I just want people to understand that I really feel like none of this stuff means anything if you don’t help others. You know what I’m saying? So, I’m definitely trying to get in a position where I can hire my friends. You know? So, I can be on a project and hire my friends and family to come act on it. I’m all about helping the people who deserve to be helped. People just use the same people, all the time! But, it’s like so many talented people, in this world, who don’t get their shine because they’re over-shined by people who’s been known. I feel like we need to show attention to other people who’s been grinding just as hard.
Parlé Mag: Most definitely. I agree.
Woody McClain: I really want to help people who don’t have those opportunities.
Parlé Mag: We know that you have the new Canal Street film coming in 2018. So, talk to us about that.
Woody McClain: Yes, Canal Street is coming out next year! It’s an amazing project. Hopefully, I can be able to work with the director again; we’ve definitely been talking about it. Rhyan Lamarr, shoutout to him. My bro, Bryshere Gray, is in it, as well! So, it was dope to come from The New Edition Story and then jump on another project together. The chemistry was even better. The way that our society is going, with the division between white people and black people—they’re trying to divide us, I feel like this is the film that talks about all of those things. It’s right on time. It’s crazy. The director, he wrote this film back in 2005.
Parlé Mag: Wow, that’s been a long while ago.
Woody McClain: Yeah! It’s crazy. Everything in this film is happening now.
Parlé Mag: Are there any other projects that we can expect from you in the near future?
Woody McClain: I think that’s about it, so far. That’s all I got that I can talk about. Stay tuned!