Damon Wayans Jr. isn’t all about jokes. These days, he actually means business.
The comedian and actor has launched his own startup in hopes of disrupting the entertainment industry in Los Angeles and New York.
The “New Girl” star has created Special Guest App, which is designed to help comedians and singers and DJs find work on a regular basis without relying on an agent.
“I've noticed there's a lot of talented people out there who have the talent but they don't have necessarily the representation to help them be seen,” Wayans told FOX Business. “I felt like that was a problem to be solved, and I wanted to make an app that allows entertainers to get gigs and be seen by other people as much as possible.”
Wayans Jr., the son of producer, comedian and actor Damon Wayans, took his idea to serial entrepreneur Kris Jones to help him design the app and get the idea off the ground.
Jones believes the concept could transform the entertainment industry, which he said has been led by “a lot of traditional ways” for decades.
The system “leaves out 95% to 98% of non-managed talent who have this sort of uphill battle trying to get discovered and trying to get paid to do what they love to do,” Jones said.
Special Guest App allows anyone to hire talent as well as giving newcomers a shot at scoring gigs. Last year, the app raised more than $1.5 million in venture capital, with plans to open in Atlanta, Austin and Nashville in upcoming months.
One of Wayans’ biggest sticking points in creating the app was to avoid taking a cut from the entertainers and charge the party booking the service.
“A lot of entertainers and musicians do a lot of stuff for free, and they just wait for their big break,” Wayans said. “This is a great way to make money and take care of yourself. We have a lot of former ‘American Idol’ talent on our app already.”